Scotland’s preparation for the big game has gone really well so far. We have tried out various formations in the three practice matches and our coach now knows the team he is going to pick. It was inspired of him to tell the lads to play as badly as possible, in case there were any English spies at the training sessions, and he has not given the Auld Enemy any clues at all.
We are particularly grateful to the French. Our coach invoked the Auld Alliance and they were good enough to lie down against the English so that the Sassenachs will now arrive at Murrayfield in their usual mood of over confidence. This would not have been the case if they’d only had the Welsh and Italian games under their belts. The French always amaze me with the skill and ease with which they can lose to England. Mind you, they’ve had plenty of practice given Agincourt, Crecy, Poitiers etc.
I am giving no secrets away by telling you that the Scottish team will be watching re-enactments of Bannockburn for the next two weeks. For those of you who are not familiar with the details, there were several reasons for the defeat of 40,000 Englishmen by 13,000 Scots. Robert the Bruce picked the battlefield and confined the English so that they could not deploy properly. He chose marshy ground, dug pits to stop the cavalry charging and scattered iron spikes called calthrops so that the horses of the heavily armoured English knights were lamed. It helped that the commander of the 2,000 Welsh archers in Edward’s army panicked and gave the order to fire at the wrong time so that they shot their arrows into the backs of the English cavalry instead of into the Scots infantry. At least, whatever the actual truth of the matter, that was the excuse that the Welsh gave after the battle.
So the scene is set for another glorious Scottish victory on 8th March. Thanks to our gallant French allies, the English will be expecting to win easily. We’ve picked the battlefield and, if the Good Lord and the Scottish weather don’t do their job properly, we’ve got two weeks to water the pitch and get it as boggy as possible. We can scatter a few calthrops around the away dressing room and we might even get Jonny’s kicking foot with a bit of luck.
Now all we have to do is to persuade the English to put on heavy armour and canter onto the field on horseback. Failing which, we are probably looking at another Flodden rather than a repeat of Bannockurn. Still, as we always say up here about our English kin ‘It’s nae loss whit a freen taks’. And we will have another nice new wooden spoon to stir our porridge with (unless the Italians nick it off us for their polenta).