Heres a first for scottishleague.net.
England supporter Joe Harle gives us his take
on the World Cup and on Anglo-Scottish rivalry.
That all true patriotic Scots align themselves
with their closest neighbours and unconditionally support
England in Fridays World Cup quarter final against
the favourites and four times World Cup winners Brazil.
Wishful thinking? The notion that thousands of Scots from
Stromness to Selkirk will pack out pubs and clubs to cheer
on Englands finest seems fanciful, even laughable.
There has always been a keen rivalry between England and Scotland
and this is particularly true when it comes to football. Lately,
relations between these oldest of sporting adversaries seems
to have degenerated into outright enmity.
Until recently the majority of English supporters would undoubtedly
have supported Scotland in any major football tournament -
witness the romantic affection and attachment to Irelands
World Cup odyssey.
Many in England are surprised and dismayed that the Scots
seem so openly hostile and critical of the team and its chances.
The English reaction to this antagonism from north of the
border is twofold.
Firstly, it appears that the success of England has invoked
feelings of intense jealousy. The prevailing view down
here seems to be that the Scots are jealous of the success
England have enjoyed so far in the tournament, jealous
because they are not party to the greatest show on earth,
the footballing carnival taking place on the other side of
There is no doubt that many Scots must be envious of the fantastic
reception the England fans have received from their Japanese
hosts. The absence of any hooliganism or ill feeling has
elevated Englands following to the position normally
occupied by the Tartan Army, that of the
most popular travelling support, sociable and gregarious,
fraternising with rival fans and locals alike.
Let us not kid ourselves that the blight of hooliganism has
been consigned to the past, a past littered with many broken
bottles and even more broken bones, but a different attitude
seems prevalent among the England fans in Japan, receptive
to local customs and culture they are there to enjoy the party
not spoil it.
The hooligans are still at large, prevented from travelling
by the great distances involved or by the authorities. They
will return and will continue to wreak havoc until they are
confronted and shouted down by the majority of decent fans,
including those wearing furry lion costumes. The self-regulation
that the Tartan Army have employed to clean up its
act should be used as a template to help eradicate the odious
behaviour so often displayed by these so called fans.
Secondly, if there is a feeling of antipathy directed at the
English from Scotland then the overriding emotion the English
have for the truculent Scots at present is one of apathy.
England simply do not consider Scotland worthy of attention.
In footballing terms our rivals are the Germans, the
Argentinians, the giants of the world game and not
a team ranked 54th in the world who have failed to
qualify for the last two major tournaments.
This is where we feel we belong, on the world stage, in
the last eight of the World Cup.
Contrary to popular opinion not everyone in England believes
we will win the World Cup, a sizeable percentage swept along
on a wave of euphoria patently do, but we do believe we can
compete at this level and we expect to.
If the Scots want to attack our team we can shrug it off,
in fact we probably wouldnt bother to reply. Although
any match between England and Scotland would undoubtedly be
closer than the form book suggests - indeed Scotland triumphed
at Wembley at the last meeting - Berti Vogts' present
team of youngsters, journeymen and dilettantes would surely
struggle to give Saudi Arabia anything more than a
routine workout. To be ignored by your closest rivals is
surely anathema to the proud Scots.
Disliked? Certainly. Loathed? Yes please. Ignored, never!
On a more positive note most Scots are knowledgeable about
football and can see through the English media hype and sensationalism
that is accompanying the team.
To my mind the team is not playing well at the moment, squeezed
tightly into Svens tactical straightjacket they seem
reluctant to come out and really play.
Technically, England have looked to be one of the most limited
teams in the competition, during long spells of the games
against Sweden, Denmark and Nigeria the team played some of
the most unattractive football seen in the tournament to date.
The results have been impressive but not the manner of the
There is real talent in the squad, the number of world class
players can vary between one and half a dozen depending on
your viewpoint. The blossoming of Rio Ferdinand has
more than covered for Sol Campbells defensive
deficiencies and Ashley Cole has added defending to
his attacking prowess. At least the manager does at last appear
to have settled on a consistent line-up even if it was more
by accident than design.
The tactic of getting an early goal and then conceding
territory and possession for the final 60-70 minutes appears
to be a dangerous game to play.
It worked against Argentina but we could have so easily
been undone by any one of the Argentininians relentless attacks.
With a manager who has 15 years of Serie A experience
it should come as no surprise that his teams display the safety
first ethos but the experience of Italy should provide
a warning. They were in control of the South Korea
game but were eliminated due to their refusal to take the
initiative and kill the game.
Can England beat Brazil? There is no reason to believe
they cannot do it. If we can pass as well as Belgium
and take advantage of the chances we can make it is more than
possible. With an attacking triumvirate of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho
and Rivaldo there is always the possibility they will
conjure up a moment of individual brilliance that it is impossible
to defend against, but they have looked far from convincing
at the back and lack a midfield enforcer in the Dunga role
who can weld the disparate parts of this talented attacking
The real test is if and when England go a goal down, they
will then have to discard their defensive shackles and go
looking for the Brazilians.
I believe this game will be very tight, England has not been
beaten by more than one goal in a competitive game since 1993
(Holland, World Cup qualifier). Im backing England
to win with a one goal advantage.
If this South American leviathan that is standing in Englands
way can be moved aside the prospect of a first championship
since 1966 will be a real possibility.
I realise that this prospect would be unthinkable for our
Scottish friends but one thing is certain when the game finally
kicks off we know who the Scots will be supporting.
The question is: do we care?
Scottishleague.net always welcomes contributions
from readers. Unfortunately, not all England supporters are
as erudite as Joe Harle. As you'll find out if you read on...
Much has been made about the lack of hooliganism
at the Finals and long may it continue. There have been suggestions
that the thugs who follow England have stayed home.
It appears that not only is that the case but they have been
busy stealing computers. Here's a selection of their comments
from the Bulletin Board at the World
Cup Archive website aimed at those who suggested that
the current England team might fall slightly short of sainthood:
EAT YOUR WORDS DOUBTING FOREIGNERS!!!!!!
YOU ARE NOW WATCHING THE 2002 FIFA WORLD CUP WINNERS! (this
was at half-time in their match in the last 16)
@!#$ off you fat little dago bastard. @!#$ off
back to the Malvinas....oops....no....they're ours. Never
mind. Theres always a few fields full of dope going spare
to sleep in
you boring, small-minded, malcontent
we know you are blinded by your anti-English hatred
"They'll Be No Transvestite Army In Japan" "You'll
Have To Watch Ingerland Instead"
"name me a team England can't beat" (this was
after they'd drawn with Sweden and Nigeria)
THEN ALL YOU IDIOTS WHO CALL US ARROGANT CAN SAY WHAT YOU
LIKE AND US ENGLISH WON'T CARE! (irony award winner)
Can we just stick to the topic instead of complaining about
foreigners, Anglophobes, and all that scum.
AS FOR THE JOCKS WELL THEY ARE ASSHOLES,
Come on you little fucker, I know you're out there.
"The Falklands War was twenty years ago and we won. Our
economy is the fourth strongest in the world, your's is a
joke AND we beat you at football."
I remember the last time we beat the Argies, the final score
was Sea Harriers 52-Argentine Air Force NIL. I understand
that Galtieri got sent off AFTER the final in Port Stanley,
and Argentina's WC hopes have been Belgranoed. (UN peace
and reconciliation award)
All I can say that there are plenty of rude things to say
about Argentina, which creates the problem of choosing what
to say. One thing I can say, I won't cry for those bastards!
"if it was on an Argie he would have tried to get the
defender sent off with a dramatic roll and card waving. I
don't get all of this 'England are Rasist' bollocks either"
(this one wins the' Racist? Us?' award)
Fuck off home Argies
Rule Britania !!! The Hand of the Cokehead and France 98 have
We aren't racist......we just hate pricks who shout about
how English have a superiority complex and spend their life's
bitching about it. (my favourite)
This could go on and on but I think you get the message.
I've actually omitted some of the stronger stuff. As for the
sad case who thought it was a laugh to say something 'witty'
about my late mother, the less said the better.