Vote! Are you supporting England in Euro2012?

Yesterday, me and a colleague – yes, a female one – had a wee blether about the football.  That’s right.  Women in Scotland who like football and like to think they know a thing or two about it.

We were discussing Engerland’s prospects and both of us admitted to having a wee soft spot for Roy Hodgson.

Particularly as we felt there was more than a touch of sniffiness evinced at the time of his appointment and since then.  This, I reckoned, was because he hadn’t followed the usual, expected path as a football manager, eschewing the glories offered by the lower leagues, choosing instead to manage *abroad*.  With enough success to eventually result in a gig in his homeland, with the Fulham job leading to a much bigger posting at Liverpool.  We all know that job ended in tears but he wasn’t exactly welcomed in the post nor given a fair chance at it.

There’s also the small matter of his unconventionality – for a footballing type.  His interest in culture is remarked upon, as his ability to speak a host of other languages.  That foreign-ness thing again.  And then there are those who just don’t think he is up to the top job in football (sic).

The cautious 0 – 0  1 -1 (I was having a senior moment clearly – apologies) draw in the opening match against France allowed the detractors the opportunity they had been seeking, to start questioning his appointment openly.  Yep, this early. Yet, I think his approach is the right one.  Safety first, a gentle easing into the tournament, without unleashing everything in one big bang seems to be his way.  And as it’s worked for teams like Germany in the past, who are we to question the tactics?

Especially when he managed a win against hoo-doo team Sweden.  The first half was far from pretty and the second was occasionally slipshod.  But he changed the tactics at halftime and it worked.  And a win is a win is a win.  The fact that the triumphalism usually accompanying English adventures in championships is missing suggests that everyone agrees a win against Ukraine on Tuesday is far from guaranteed.  And is perhaps evidence of a new realism.

Whisper it – England is not nearly as good a team as it used to be.  The so-called Golden Generation is on its way out and Hodgson has clearly decided to give them a shove, as the decision to leave Ferdinand behind (inexplicable though that might seem) suggests.  This is an England team in transition with Hodgson building for the future – so long, of course, that he gets the chance to do so.

That Ferdinand decision speaks of a man who knows his own mind and what he wants to achieve, who will refuse to be blown off course by the force of public and media opinion.  Something else to admire.

Which all suggests that we will see a different England at this tournament.  One that has lower expectations stepping on to the field more in hope than innate belief at their greatness.  And a little success in such circumstances would be a very good thing – a success borne of endeavour rather than arrogance.

Not least because of the constitutional flux in which these islands find themselves thanks to the Scottish question, or questions, to be put.  And actually, a little success for England – in their ain colours, not the ones belonging currently to us all – might also be a very good thing for doubters everywhere.  If England can stand on the country’s own, so can the rest of us.  Divvying up the political – and therefore, cultural and sporting – furniture can be achieved, without recrimination and without the prophecies of doom so beloved of Unionists everywhere being fulfilled.

There’s also the neighbourly question.  Or the Andrew Wilson Doctrine, as I like to think of it.

No one likes a surly neighbour.  You don’t wave yours off on their summer holiday wishing them a flat tyre on the way, a missed ferry and a two week downpour.  So why when it comes to our national neighbour are we so consumed with ire and ill-feeling?  Yes, yes I know the media don’t make it easy for us all.  But we can simply tune them out and turn them off surely?

Moreover, it says something unpleasant about us when we allow ourselves to be defined by the people we share a border and language with, as well as chunks of culture, heritage and history.  This doesn’t make us the same, far from it, not least in our political outlook and leanings.  So not quite siblings then, more like cousins.

And just like the cousins we meet up with on family occasions, we might wince a bit at their choice of attire, their life choices, at their brashness, their loud laugh and ridiculous moves on the dancefloor.  They might embarrass us – worse, some of them might have a few skeletons we hope they’ll keep firmly in the cupboard – but when it comes to bigger stuff, well they’re family.  And mostly, families look out for each other.  All families have their disagreements, some even manage to have fall-outs that last for years, but in the main, either we’re agnostic about what goes on in their lives or are content to wish them well.  Just as they are with us.

So it should be with England in Euro 2012.  As we stand on the cusp of taking the biggest decision Scotland will face in hundreds of years, we should be shrugging off the old ways and trying some new ones on for size and fit.

Dumping the one that requires us to support anyone but England on sporting occasions would be a start.  And if we’re brave and mature enough to try on one that has us at least smiling at their progress in this football fest, then we might find we actually quite like the fit.

Are you supporting England in Euro2012?  Yep, I am.  And I might even buy the T-shirt too.

32 thoughts on “Vote! Are you supporting England in Euro2012?

  1. I dont support England in this tournament, simply on the grounds that they are nowhere near being the best team. I wish them all the best but they were not as good as (a disappointing ) France and a bit lucky against Sweden , who dominated the second half. We all know what to expect of their poisonous, arrogant Anglocentric Media, so to will Mr Hodgson, always one step away from turnipdom. Until Scotland gets a football legue where the bulk of the players are Scots, well coached in technique and tactics, we are better not being there. I’m old enough to remember argueing with friends on the way to Wembly, about the merits of excluding Anglo’s or old firm players or whatever. People dont believe it now, but we could have picked three teams then, all as good (or bad!) as each other. Now we struggle to find eleven who even want to play.

  2. There is nothing that “requires” me to support anyone but England. It just comes naturally. There is no conscious, rational process involved. And it involves no antipathy whatever to the people of England. Mind you, I’m hardly a typical football fan. In fact, I’m not really a football fan at all. I certainly don’t support any team. But maybe that means my instincts are more “pure”.

  3. Interesting, isn’t it, that this ‘media’ that we all say we distrust, disbelieve and some of us consider anglocentric, still seems to have such power to shape our views. A number of ABE supporters claim regularly that it is the media attitudes that shape their support/lack of it. Doug Daniel on this thread even suggests that if the broadcasts were done by STV he might hate England less! Really? Is that how you decide who you support if your own team isn’t involved?

    The results of Kate’s poll do not surprise me, or worry me. I’ve been in Scoitland for a long time and don’t plan to move. But – just for the record – most England fans in England dislike the media approach to the England team/manager too. For them hating the media trivialisation/personalisation etc is often given a reason FOR supporting the team. Both ‘reasons’ are excuses. And lets stop confusing the media with the teams, the managers – or indeed the country.

    • You seem to have misunderstood my point, Chris. The BBC and ITV coverage of football events are geared towards an English audience. You may not like the media’s approach, but at least it’s your media, and it’s your team they’re obsessing about. For the average Scot, in order to watch the football, you’re being subjected to pundits going on endlessly about England, relating everything to England, denigrating other teams and saying how easily England will get past them… I’d probably get a bit annoyed if the same was happening in regards to Scotland, but at least I wouldn’t feel like I was sitting in a foreign country despite being in my own home.

      You’ll probably think I’m just being parochial, but I bet if the situation was reversed and you were made to constantly sit through pundits waxing lyrical about every inane aspect of Scotland’s team, when all you want to do is watch the game at hand, you’d get pretty fed up of it and find it coloured your opinion of the Scotland team. Incidentally, the same thing happens for club teams too – one reason many want Rangers to get booted out of the SPL is because we’re so tired of Rangers and Celtic taking up all the Scottish media’s attention.

      Familiarity breeds contempt.

  4. For your average Scot, I think the whole “Anyone But England” thing is equal parts good natured rivalry with your next door neighbour and exasperation at the nature of the media coverage of the English football team.

    What bothers me, actually, is the obsession that we have (on both sides of the border) with the issue. Every time the World Cup or any other major tournament is on the go, we get the same news articles and blog posts where we are told how petty we Scots are and how wonderfully generous the English are since they would support us – something that remains pure fantasy as we never qualify for anything anyway!

    I’m inclined to suggest the only reason it’s an issue is because we are part of the same nation state at present, and it seems impolite not to support each other. Were we independent, I don’t think anyone would bat an eye. Good natured rivalry with your closest neighbours, especially if they are much larger than you, seems very much the modern European norm – they simply seem to have managed the transition from pitched battles to the football pitch much better than we have.

    But then I’m a young soul of the devolution era, so I reckon that I (and my peers) tend to be less “chip on the shoulder” and more “tongue in cheek” when it comes to Scotland-England relations.

    • Absolutely, Allan. I see this as one of those little insights into how insular the UK can be, assuming that certain things are peculiar to us. The idea of cheering on your neighbour’s opponent is not a new phenomenon, and it’s certainly not unique to Scotland. The Netherlands supports Anyone But Germany. Norway cheers when Sweden loses. It’s not even unique to football, because there is intense rivalry between the Australian and New Zealand rugby teams.

      Sporting rivalries are part of the fun, and let’s not forget that Scotland and England share the oldest football rivalry.

  5. I think Daniel hit it on the head regarding theattitude of the media towards the England National team. Personaly, i wouldn’t mind them so much if it wasn’t for the attitude of the comentators… “we” and the continual crowbaring of England into Poland V Russia or any other irrelivant to England fixture. Of course we Scot’s would never bang on about anything that happened, say in 1967, would we….

    I think that a large part of the print media’s unacceptance of Hodgson is more down to the FA’s choice of Hodgson over “their man” St ‘Arry of Redknapp. I did a post on my “Fan With a Laptop” blog looking at the English print media’s attitude, even going so far as to say that Redknapp was “the people’s favourite” before being shown the error of their ways by the Twitterati and the Blogosphere.

  6. A valiant attempt at reasonableness but this is sport!

    The near neighbour principle works in reverse in sport at both Club and International level (Netherlands and Germany, Portugal and Spain etc). For some (New Zealand and Australia) it applies in all sports. This is not something to feel bad or guilty about (providing it remains within the confines of the sport)..

    1968 Olympic Ice Hockey – USSR v Czechoslovakia during the Prague uprising. A bloke jumps on the side of a T-54 tanks and scrawls 5-4 on the side of the turret in chalk.

    That is sports’ gift and its power.

  7. Not much bothered about these championships, professional football leaves me cold, but on the subject of support for England, I remember going for a night out in Edinburgh after Scotland had played England at Football, it was a very unpleasant evening, the atmosphere was poisonous, we still have alot of growing up to do.
    Its a one of the reasons I don’t like nationalism, seems to bring out the worst in some folk.

  8. Yes Doug, over-expectation and hype, a particularly English disease…

    We’re on the march wi’ Ally’s Army,
    We’re going tae the Argentine,
    And we’ll really shake them up,
    When we win the World Cup,
    ‘Cos Scotland is the greatest football team

  9. Maybe next time, but not with someone like John Terry in team and someone like Rio Ferdinand left at home for the formers comfort.

    • Ferdinand’s own boss said he wouldn’t be able to deliver in big games over such a short period. And a player like Ferdinand should be mature enough to accept a manager picks the team, not him, and to deal with it if his name doesn’t happen to be selected.

      I’m sure there were many English players disappointed not to be going. They didn’t all take to Twitter and to the newspapers to throw tantrums about it. Ferdinand’s public attacks on Hodgson because he wasn’t going were disgusting and wrong. It is a great pity the English media didn’t turn on him and put him in his place.

      This is England’s first trip to the Euros in a long time yet all Ferdinand wanted to do was undermine the team and the manager and create division. It was just all about HIM. As far as I’m concerned England should never select him again. He talks about Hodgson “disrespecting” him. What absolute tosh. Respect is a two way street. Where was Ferdinand’s respect for the England manager? Hodgson made the decision to leave him now for good reasons. If Fergie felt Ferdinand wasn’t up to so many big games I think Hodgson was right to listen to that.

      • I would have been able to accept that reasoning the first time he was left out. The second time however, a complete nobody was taken in his place. England had an injury crisis, in such conditions it doesn’t matter if someone isn’t fully fit, if they can play, they go.

        It’s quite obvious, at least to me, Rio wasn’t selected because he happens to be the brother of someone who was allegedly racially abused by John Terry. And I think that is an unacceptable state of affairs.

        I think it sends out a terrible message and the idea of John Terry lifting the trophy is just too revolting. So I hope they go out.

      • That’ll be drugs cheat Rio then…

    • Matthew, it may be “obvious” to you why Ferdinand was left out but it doesn’t follow that your view is correct. You have a view on the matter and that is all.

      As for suggesting “it doesn’t matter” whether someone is fit when they’re going up against top teams in an international tournament, that is just plain silly. Ferdinand’s own boss cautioned that he wasn’t fit, Hodgson needed fit players in order to get results and he personally is under a lot of pressure having only been in the job a matter of weeks. When choosing between fully and fit and not fully fit players I think he made the reasonable choice, especially when considering a not fully fit defender who is, in football terms, no spring chicken at 33. So taking Ferdinand was risky for football reasons alone. He also chose younger players and it seems to me they are delivering for him and are delighted to be there in order to prove themselves. England need to get younger players in and established if they are to start building successfully for their future. Hodgson is giving many the chance now.

      I also think that football players who are representing their country need to focus on the games ahead and not on who is not talking to whoever else in the dressing room. Ferdinand’s own conduct in this matter by publicly attacking the England manager was, in my view, unprofessional and disgusting. But it is a sign of the times in football when players these days think they are accountable to no one and can call all the shots, and, in Ferdinand’s case, even pick the team. Ferdinand tried to undermine England and their manager in a fit of pique. He is behaving like a child and actually proving that Hodgson was right to leave him out.

  10. I grew up never meeting an English person. I “hated” England because I was led to believe this was normal. I had no reason to question.

    When I moved to the distant shores of Edinburgh, suddenly I met people from this evil, arrogant land. Imagine my shock at finding them to be, well, nice.
    This “sporting” hatred is borne of ignorance.What always surprises me, though, is that the ignorance is prevelant in people I know should know better. And it taints our politics and culture.

    We can’t blame the media for backing their favourites. It’s not an exclusively English trait. Just look at the Old Firm dominance of our own institutions. An independant Scotland would be just as jingoistic.

    I am married to a lovely English lady now.

    I still don’t support England. But I don’t hate them.

    • And I think your last comment succinctly sums it up. It’s the irrational hatred that is the issue, as you say often borne of ignorance.

  11. Strange that such a cultured man with an international outlook would choose to build his defence around a racist. As an English man I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve not wanted England to win as winning with Terry in the team would leave a very bad taste in the mouth. Maybe the new manager knows his football, but I’d have liked him to have extended his leadership pove beyond the football pitch with a strong stand against racism by dropping Terry.

    • I agree but there are all manner of other considerations swirling around – and pressures – which we know little about. I suspect this is Terry’s last hurrah and he’ll be dropped more quietly after the championships. It’s a difficult one for a new manager with lots of whispering and comment going on around his appointment – taking a stand on Terry would have been brave but would have created a media storm that would have impinged on his team’s chances. Which is not to say including him is right, just that he probably had to weigh up the consequences of dropping him.

      • I have to say I’m surprised that you are taking such a soft line on racism given your previous excellent pieces on sexism. I don’t really understand it.

      • I’m not being soft on racism. I abhor racism, think Terry should be kicked out of football, think UEFA’s stance on racism generally is appalling and their soft soaping gives succour to the people who think it is clever to throw bananas on to the pitch, as happened last night.

        But whether or not to support England is more than just because Terry is in the team or not. Many of us support something or at least tolerate some things in spite of their flaws – happens in every day life. I might not like the fact that women are under-represented in the debates on Scotland’s future, doesn’t mean I’m going to not take part or watch what is there. Some people prefer to boycott completely – I have and do do this. At other times, you show protest differently – or not even.

        Life isn’t black and white, anything but, when it comes to football.

        Out of interest, are you running a campaign to boycott Euro2012 because of racism? I’d be interested to know if there was one.

    • John Terry has not been convicted of the offence. So for now he is guilty of nothing and it may turn out he is acquitted. We do not have the right to judge ahead of that court case and Hodgson’s position seems to be based on that. His own club, Chelsea, appear to be taking the same view.

      • Thanks Steve, I’d seen it. I also note that Ashley Cole is a witness for the defence and wasn’t he the player closest at the time? What then should we make of Cole, a black player who is offering testimony under oath in Terry’s defence? We can’t call him a racist in this case: he’s black. Yet he seems to be saying Terry is innocent of the charges brought. Do we call him a liar instead? Why would he defend racism towards another black player and if we believe he is doing that what will happen to Cole? Will people turn against him as well?

  12. I do agree with both of you about the commentators and (on the whole) the tabloid press. I don’t know about the players – never met any of them, only aforesaid tabloid press to go on. But neither of these are reasons to be anti-England.

    On the whole, the English will root for any other team from these islands (especially Scotland) if they are competing in any sport/competition, as indeed will the Irish and Welsh. The ‘anyone but England’ approach seems only to be really prevalent in Scotland and I think it is a shame. Worse than that, I believe it is, on occasion, so distinctly unpleasant as to be racist.

  13. Two problems with your analysis Kate:

    1) “That Ferdinand decision speaks of a man who knows his own mind and what he wants to achieve.” Does it? I suspect it shows something far uglier.

    2) “The cautious 0 – 0 draw in the opening match against France allowed the detractors the opportunity they had been seeking, to start questioning his appointment openly. Yep, this early. Yet, I think his approach is the right one. Safety first, a gentle easing into the tournament, without unleashing everything in one big bang seems to be his way.”

    Are you saying this was a deliberate tactical draw? Drawing rather than winning? If so this is certainly a unique approach!

    • If you’re hinting at Hodgson being racist, then how to explain the inclusion of other black players?

      As for the cautious approach, it is not unique. I’m sure he would have preferred a win over a draw but he was playing France in the opener. A more expansive approach could have resulted in a cuffing which would have done his team’s chances and morale no good whatsoever.

    • England are at the Euros for the first time in ages and were playing France, seasoned campaigners at the Euros and former holders of the trophy. Of course they’re going to be cautious. I thought the draw was a great result against France. And it certainly isn’t a “unique” approach when playing teams like France. I know they aren’t yet the France of old but they are on an excellent run right now and Hodgson would have been quite wrong to go into the match being arrogant and saying England were going to beat them. England have done that before in such tournaments and fallen flat on their faces.

      The three points against Sweden were well earned. England are now in a good position. I’d say that so far Hodgson has done better than all right as have his mixture of white AND black players. .

  14. Nice in theory, and I do like Roy, but I just can’t do it. The media just don’t know how to tone it down. They were meant to be having lower expectations, but as soon as that goal against France went in, they reverted back to type. Sweden and Ukraine played a game twice as entertaining as England’s, and all the commentators could say was “nothing about either team to worry England”. The arrogance is too deeply rooted, and I just cannot be bothered hearing about them all the time. A cursory recap of the first half of a really exciting game, and soon it’s “let’s go over to the England camp to see what Steven Gerrard had for his lunch.” They need to go out as soon as possible just to shut the media up.

    And here’s the nub of the problem: it’s not our media. If we had STV and BBC Scotland doing our coverage, they’d hopefully be less sickeningly sychophantic, and there’d be less to get annoyed at. I daresay if I had to hear the Dutch going on endlessly about their solitary Euro win every year, and always obsessed with their team, I’d hate the Dutch team. But I don’t have to see that, so I don’t get bugged by it.

    On top of all that, they have some really horrible characters in their team. John Terry and Ashley Cole are two people I just don’t like. Oh, and it doesn’t help that I really like Germany, which is pretty incompatible with being an England fan!

    • I don’t like John Terry either and think he should have been left at home and indeed, banished completely from football.

      But I wonder if the personalising of our reasons for not wanting to support England is because we know something of the players. We don’t know the personal foibles and unpleasant characteristics of any Russian players, German, Spanish etc in the same way so supporting them is easier?

      Just a thought….

      • Indeed, I thought about that. After all, many of the German team are from Bayern München, nicknamed FC Hollywood – you’d have to think they would have their fair share of primadonnas. But fortunately I don’t read about their exploits in our media, so I’m blissfully ignorant and free to cheer them on!

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