In case you had forgotten, I have rules about the countries that I support to beat England. In cricket, it’s Scotland. For rugby it’s Scotland, Wales, Ireland and South Africa. At football I will happily cheer on my Sassenach cousins except against Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales (unless that diving bastard, Gareth Bale, is playing for the Taffs).
It follows that I enthusiastically supported England throughout their 1966 campaign. We had failed to qualify despite that magic day in 1965 when I was part of a crowd of 100,393 at Hampden Park to watch John Greig smack the ball past the Italian goalie and give us a chance of going to the party when we won the return leg. We didn’t.
Come the Finals, I was 16, 6′ tall and able to pass in pubs. Watched most of the games in the Station Hotel, Perth nursing a pint of Light. That’s where I was on 30 July 1966. I still remember cheering when England won, despite that non-goal.
Now, if Scotland had ever won the World Cup, we all know that we would have wandered up to pick up the trophy in a diffident and self-effacing manner, making absolutely no attempt to rub our opponent’s faces into the fact that we had gubbed them. We would have taken the cup home and put it on our national mantle piece, alongside our many Nobel prizes and other awards for inventing most important things and generally being better than everybody else at everything. We would never have mentioned it again unless somebody asked us about it. In which case we might, under repeated importuning, have primed our pipe, lit it and puffed reflectively as we told the tale of the day. Modesty is our middle name.
How very different from our Sassenach cousins. They have talked of little else since they became World Champions. We, of course, took the title off them by humiliating them 2-3 at Wembley in 1967 but they still bang about that 1966 game.
Anyhow, it’s World Cup time in Brazil. We appear to have been robbed and to have failed to qualify again. So, it’s ‘c’mon England’ for another campaign.
My worry is that Alex Salmond will probably be at my shoulder this time as I cheer on the Southrons. In normal times, I am certain that he would have bought his Uruguayan, Italian and Costa Rican shirts for England’s qualification group by now. I am also certain that he will be hoping that England go all the way this time in the expectation that the media will go on and on and on and on about it and drive some of my fellow Jocks towards the Yes delusion.
Whatever. c’mon England. I still hope that my friends and fellow countrymen will win in Brazil. And that Sleekit will, in due course, lose in Scotland.