By Pete Wilson
11 June 2010
With the World Cup kicking off in South Africa today, fans around the globe are nailing their colours to the mast, highlighting again the animosity between England and their northern neighbours, Scotland. Or to be more precise, the animosity apparently felt by Scottish football fans towards England at major tournaments where ABE (“Anyone but England”) is typically the order of the day.
England’s players have been shown a motivational video this week from British troops serving in Afghanistan, and one of the most striking moments is when a solitary Scot, sitting on a tank, says: “As you can hear, I’m Scottish, but I’ll be rooting for you guys anyway. I can’t say the same for the rest of my fellow countrymen, but at least you’ve got one on your side!”
But could things be changing on a wider level? Could the frostiness be thawing for 2010? (No! Obviously). But there are signs this year of more Scots – and prominent Scots – than in recent years coming out to support England.
Then earlier this week, the Daily Record reported that the Scottish Hollywood star Dougray Scott is behind England, joining other prominent names including Andy Murray, Sir Chris Hoy and Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher.
In another feature today, the Daily Record reports that Tommy Docherty (former Scotland great) and Graham Dorrans are behind England, and Ally McCoist, Stuart McCall, Kevin Gallacher and Chris Iewlumo are “maybes” that it’s easy to believe would be “England camp”. Over in today’s Scottish Sun, meanwhile, there is an “Exclusive” about how ordinary Scots are supporting England.
And yet, and yet. According to bookmakers William Hill, while almost one in five bets on the World Cup in English betting shops are on England, in Wales that figure is one in nine, in Northern Ireland one in 12, and in Scotland just one in every 20. That doesn’t mean the Scots are just anti-English, of course. It could just mean they’re more discerning.
Sportingintelligence would like the views of all Scots in the comments box below, for a straw poll. If you’re Scottish, why are you backing England, or not?