Despite my Scottish ancestry on both my parent’s sides – incidentally from an early age all my life I had also been told that I possessed a significant Italian family background, an allegation that was disproved last year when, as a birthday present, my daughter arranged me a DNA (ancestry) test via a well-known genealogical website which conclusively proved otherwise – I have always a deep antipathy to the people who inhabit that piece of the British Isles north of the Border.
About a hundred years ago, just after leaving school, I spent seven months of my gap year living, working and finally travelling around Australia.
During that trip, or shortly thereafter, someone told me a joke “taking the Michael” out of the average native – the white Aussie version, not the Aboriginal one:
“What’s the definition of a well-balanced Australian?”
[Answer] “An Australian with a chip on both shoulders …”
What I’m getting round to stating is that, whilst I cannot provide a definitive/comprehensive reason for my lack of warmth towards the Scots, I’m sure that ultimately it has something to do with their seething resentment at being clearly inferior to the English.
Well, that and also perhaps (1) their pronounced sense of “entitlement”; (2) the Barnett Formula (which has entrenched the fact that the Scots receive more per head of the UK taxpayers’ money than any other nation); and (3) their general culture and attitudes to all aspects of life as exemplified by the television comedy character Rab C. Nesbitt (brilliantly brought to life by actor Gregor Fisher) and the uniquely annoying SNP Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon whose habit – in all her public set-piece public pronouncements during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis – of describing vaccination doses as “vaccination dozes” drives me straight round the bend every time I set eyes upon her.
Unlike my Rust colleague Gerald Ingolby – who has sworn off watching any of the EUROS 2021/2021 football tournament – yesterday I deliberately tuned into the ‘live’ television coverage of Scotland’s opening match of their Group campaign against the Czech Republic, kick-off 2.00pm.
The Scots have a particular relationship with the round-ball game.
They have a proud heritage reputation for producing outstanding footballers – most of whom eventually set out for England and/or pastures overseas and further afield in order to fulfill their full playing potential – and an accompanying one down the ages for having fanatical supporters whose devotion probably exceeds not only that of their equivalents in all other parts of the United Kingdom but even some of those in the over-excitable countries of far-off South America.
For any self-respecting Englishman there is little in life to match the experience of watching a Scotland appearance in a major footballing tournament, partly because of its rarity value – I learned yesterday that it had been twenty-three years since Scotland last managed one.
The entire experience was a joy to behold.
The TV company had organised an impressive-looking “open air” studio set overlooking the Hampden Park pitch from which its Scottish presenters and pundits (including the now-obligatory two females) offered their bland pre-match opinions and analysis detailing the brilliance of the Scottish squad members and the likely tactics they would deploy in their quest to progress out of their Group and into the knock-out stages.
For the onlooking English viewer, this spectacle had a strangely entertaining “passive/aggressive” quality.
This sprang from the “fiction” that the coverage was being presented as if Scotland – just like any other nation – was a potential contender for the winners’ trophy, when deep down in reality we all knew it wasn’t.
And then came the game itself.
For good or ill – probably the former – it so happened that my stint in front of the television was punctuated by a series of random incoming telephone calls, during which I was obliged to watch the screen with the sound “muted”.
It was in this state (speaking on the phone to a third party, viewing just the silent live on-screen picture coverage) that I witnessed one of the finest moments of the match and indeed the entire tournament so far: Patrik Schick’s wonder strike from just inside the Scots’ half – a 50-yard lob of the Jocks’ keeper David Marshall which seemed to unfold in a compelling combination of slow-motion horror and classic Keystone Cops farce.
See here for the moment concerned, courtesy of – YOUTUBE
Roll on the EUROS 2020/2012’s next great spectacle – Scotland versus England at Wembley, kick off at 8.00pm on Friday!