3 June ~ Should Scotland fans support England? That question has become a tedious by-product of the national team's recent inability to qualify for major tournaments. In the build-up to Germany 2006 it cropped up on BBC Question Time, and this time around it has formed the basis of a YouGov poll, with 21 per cent of Scots saying they could bring themselves to get behind the UK's sole representatives at South Africa 2010. Scotland manager Craig Levein and political leaders of all hues have also been asked for their opinions, responding with diplomatic messages of goodwill for Fabio Capello's side. Just as well, then, that Denis Law is still with us.

Aside from the fact that the other members of the Celtic fringe haven't had to explain who they'll be supporting this summer, what makes this debate especially irritating is that England fans couldn't care less whether the Scots get behind them or not. Seeing your team not qualify for the finals is bad enough; engaging in some serious soul-searching and then being ignored by the new-found object of your affections is even worse.

After all, one of the joys, perhaps the only joy, of supporting Scotland is seeing the Auld Enemy lose. In the nearly 40 years that I've been watching the boys in blue come up short, England have never failed to bring me solace. There have been occasional pangs of guilt along the way, never more so than in 1990. But even though I found it hard to dislike a side containing Beardsley, Waddle, Gascoigne and Barnes, the mere thought of the fuss the media would have made of England beating Argentina in the final made me grateful for their wayward penalty-taking.

Born in England to Scottish (non-nationalist) parents, I've often been accused of being a treacherous fake by friends. They've got a point I suppose, but ever since I watched the likes of Gerry Francis and Kevin Beattie humiliate the hapless Stewart Kennedy at Wembley in 1975 I've stayed resolute. England's self-perpetuating sense of entitlement, undiminished by 44 years of "hurt", has played its part too, as did John Motson with his orgasmic cries of "Keegaaaaaan" whenever the bubble-permed pest stuck one in the back of the net.

So all I can say to that one-fifth of the Scottish population who'll supposedly be giving their backing to Rio and the lads in a few days time is, think again. Your support, which in my experience has never been reciprocated, will be appreciated by no one, believe me. And let's face it, you'll only be letting yourself in for yet more disappointment. James Calder

Comments (15)
Comment by tratorello 2010-06-03 11:14:48

As an Englishman I've always wanted Scotland to do well (must be something to do with Ipswich's 1980s Scots contingent, Wark, Burley and Brazil) but have added benefit of being able to laugh when it all goes horribly tits up (as it invariably always does)

I couldn't care less whether Scottish football fans want England to do well, goodness knows the England team are a difficult enough bunch to support when they, supposedly, represent you, let alone if they were your oldest rivals.

Comment by Afrikaams 2010-06-03 11:38:39

Tratorello's 1st paragraph kinda sums up how I feel in reverse. I'm embarrassed by a lot of the 'anyone but England' stuff we get up here. I don't imagine any other country really cares if the Scots support them or not, so why do we expect the English to?

Comment by mmsredarmy 2010-06-03 11:47:04

Though I was fairly sure where my allegiances lie, last nights world cup send off programme on 5live really drove home why I will not be supporting England in South Africa.

The panellists, like some many other media outlets, were so biased and extremely arrogant regarding England’s chances for the world Cup.

For example, I only really heard them talking about England’s potential later rounds opponents, assuming without comment that England would win their group, never mind qualify from it (though I fully believe England to qualify, though it might not be as easy as many seem to think).

They then talked about which other team from the group might qualify (in 2nd behind England) and who ‘might’ give England a good game in the group phase.

The discussion then moved on to other teams who might do well and who might struggle.

One panellist decided that Argentina would struggle (in a group with the ‘mighty’ Nigeria, Greece and South Korea). Though diego may be mad, it would take something really special for them not to qualify from that.

The next one ‘predicted’ to struggle was Italy. Yes a shadow of previous teams, but they are in a group with, wait for it Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia. Slovakia have naturally done well to qualify and will be decent, but there is no chance they will deny Italy a last 16 berth when your head takes over from your heart.

Germany were the third them in this list. Yes again a poorish team compared with previous years, but in a group with an Essien less Ghana (who I think will be really poor after a good 2006), a 4 year older and poorer Australia (who have selected only 3 forwards in there squad including Harry Kewell) and a Serbian team who though qualify well, bombed last time and are totally unproven.

No chat at all about England maybe struggling, what if say they have a poor game with the US and etch out a draw? The pressure then to perform will be massive and the others will not be rollovers.

The bit on the programme that actually made me laugh the most was when they talked about a ‘dark horse’ doing well. Some of the chat was on Chile with one saying they could go to the semi’s and others agreeing. Yes they are a good team and a team that looks like it will play attractive attacking football, but look at the draw they have. In Spain’s group so lets say likely 2nd place and then drawn to play the winner of Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast.

Anyway, the main point is the media hype really really puts me off with England and I generally only really enjoy tournaments when they are out and I am not thinking that we need x team to win because they are more likely to stop England.

Chile will be my team for the earlier rounds and then a fall back of a good football playing Brazil or Argentina.

Comment by bluemonday 2010-06-03 12:48:16

mmsredarmy, aren't you guilty of exactly the same thing as the 5 Live panellists did with England's group by writing off the chances of Nigeria, Greece, South Korea, Paraguay and Slovakia in their qualifying groups?

Comment by sampson 2010-06-03 13:48:17

Who cares what the Scottish think about our chances in the World Cup? They have, in general never wanted us to do well, and I am very surprised that a significant minority have decided to back England.

It is not just the Scot's either, the Welsh in my family are completely behind whoever England are playing and most of Ireland feels the same way.

Most English people could not care less about any of this, and will still support the other home nations when they are not playing us. Slightly baffling really, but it does come across as a bit patronising as well. Put it this way, when Liam Lawrence was called up to the Ireland squad myself, like many other Stoke supporters, did comment that they were the England B team (Lawrence is from Mansfield, but he has been for a drink with Glen Whelan, which is enough to qualify). Although that might be just because English supporters in general are likely to have at least a passing interest in the National teams that their player represent, although how Manchester United supporters, just as an example, chanting "Argentina" can look at themselves in the mirror I don't know.

Personally I'v always loved watching the Scot's fail. It's as good as seeing the Argentinians, Germans, or even the Aussies get beaten.

Rivalries are an important part of the entertainment in sport (as long as it remains sensible), so come on Scotland, get behind the Yanks!

Comment by beaver 2010-06-03 14:16:34

Would Rangers fans be expected to support Celtic, or Liverpool fans be expected to support Man U? So why on earth would Scotland fans support their biggest rivals during the World Cup?

Comment by Dalef65 2010-06-03 14:17:56

When the 2012 Olympic Football comes around,There will be a true dilemma for the Scots fans.
The UK(or GB or whatever)team will be ENGLAND in GB shirts,cos all the other Home Nations have refused to participate.
So we will probably have a situation where half the Scots are supporting UK/GB/England,and the other half,who will never support an English XI want their own(!?)team to lose.......!!
Should make for interesting viewing tee hee...

Comment by Dalef65 2010-06-03 14:23:52

Just an added thought as well,there will be a double whammy for the Scots,in that great chunks of the rest of the world,think that the words UK,GB and England all mean the same thing,and the 2012 Olympic football tournament may perpetuate this false impression.
Oh dear.......!

Comment by diggy 2010-06-03 18:07:20

What about this dilemma: who will the Irish go for if England play France in the quarter-finals?

Comment by Melbourne Arab 2010-06-03 22:25:35

I don't think there will be any dilemma at the Olympics because nobody takes Olympics football seriously - and, for the few who do, it's not "our" team anyway.

As for the false impression people overseas have that UK/GB/England is all the same, I think this is a good thing because it means that people see Scotland as an entirely separate nation insofar as they give it any thought at all.

Comment by Seeing Red 2010-06-03 23:08:54


I'm totally in agreement with you, and I'm English. The day after the 2010 World Cup draw was made, The Sun ran with a front page which said:

E ngland
A lgeria
S lovenia
Y anks

The arrogance is breathtaking. We've won a world cup, once, on home soil back in 1966. Since then, it's been disappointment after disappointment. How come then, that our media seems to think the mighty England need only turn up and steamroll any opponent in our way?

In 2006 the only player who escaped criticism (in my opinion) was Owen Hargreaves, who I think had a good tournament, and surprisingly he was free from the glare of the English media, playing in Germany for Bayern Munich. I really don't think it's a coincidence.

Comment by English Republic 2010-06-03 23:27:37


I think there are plenty of English who want nothing to do with "Team Gee Bee" at the Olympics too, myself included! I would prefer to support the opposition rather than an "English" team wrapped in the butchers apron. As for this navel gazing of the Scottish media, have they not got better things to do than to ask Scots whether they'll be supporting England at the World Cup? It's about as relevent a question as asking a vegetarian what he thinks of sausages. Do these people actually realise that NOT supporting the football team of another country is a perfectly normal state of affairs?

Comment by mmsredarmy 2010-06-04 09:04:38


not at all, as all these teams can, and in two cases will.

My point was not about writing off teams, is was about a group of panellists who seem to decide that every other ‘big’ team might struggle through their qualifying group regardless of opposition, while England would naturally win their group to such an extent that the panel decided it was not worth their time discussing.

Comment by Magic Spongers 2010-06-04 11:50:01

For most of us, there's more to football than just slating England. We have even been known to enjoy watching other teams rather than just sitting down for England matches hoping they'll lose.

The likelihood is that the powers that be in Scotland will be concentrating on their own national side anyway:

Comment by AYRSHIRE_ANGUS 2010-06-04 12:13:48

I couldn't quite believe that Radio5 felt it necessary sent someone to Heathrow to provide us with "live commentary" on the England team taking off.

I'll settle for another loss in semi-final penalties please!

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