The national team, do I as a Scot have to support them? Given the conversations I have been involved with recently, you would think it my obligation as a Scottish born citizen to don a Scotland shirt, kilt and Timberland boots everytime a game comes up. In reality though I am as far from that as I possibly could be. I don’t support Scotland and as controversial as it sounds, I never have in my thirty six years on the planet.
Before you give up on this piece on the grounds of me being a treacherous bastard hear me out. There are many reasons behind this admission. It’s not new and it’s certainly not a secret. It’s just a thirty six year old fact.
Scotland was whipped into a frenzy over the last few days. Would the national team qualify for their first tournament since 1998. Would they remove themselves from the list of UEFA members that haven’t qualified for a tournament since France ’98. A list that included heavy weights of World fitba Andorra, Armenia Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cyprus, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, San Marino and of course Scotland. To see that list was pretty miserable, even as a non-Scotland supporter. As we know, the lads did the nation proud in tense circumstances and are heading to Euro 2020 in 2021. Something that will keep the frenzy going a few more days and leave a few sore heads this morning. It’s also something that I am happy about. I always am when Scotland win. I would never want them to lose. That goes for the Rugby team, women’s curling or even the elephant polo squad. That’s why I don’t get the abuse I get. I don’t go to games and I rarely watch games on the TV. So I don’t claim to be a supporter. The Scotland v Israel game was the first full game I had watched in easily ten years. I was at a serious loose end so I thought “why the hell not” . Incredibly, I ended up doing something I am not sure I have done since the World Cup in 1998. I followed up the Israel match with watching the next game v Slovakia in its entirety. Two full games in a row, a rarity. To be honest though it was nothing to do with the hype that was building in regards to being one step away from a tournament. In truth it most likely would not have been done if Andy Considine wasn’t winning his first ever cap(The big man did not put a foot wrong for the record). However I didn’t make it a hatrick of consecutive games despite the Dons Man starting again v Czech Republic. This due to being at Kingsley Park, of Ryton and Crawcrook Albion for a Northern League Second Division match v Crook Town. That fact there is a big part of my lack of shits given about international fitba. Basically, I am a club fitba man. It’s really that simple. Not all club fitba however as some is a just circus these days. I would go as far as stating international fitba is nearly last on my fitba watching priorities list, sitting above the Champions League and the English mercenary jamboree. But this is lost on alot of people. It seems like you cannot just like one and not the other, club game and not international makes me out to be some sort of leper. Seems OK the opposite way, I have worked with numerous guys in the past who have only supported Scotland and not a club side. This though seemed to be totally acceptable. But when I say I do it the other way round it makes worse than a combination of Pol Pot, Vlad the Impaler and Hitler with coronavirus. I cannot get my head around that.
Pre and post Serbia game I was called a “hun” on numerous occasions. “Only huns don’t like Scotland”, “fucking hun bastard” and “are you some sort of hun fuck” are three laughable insults thrown my way. Unionist was another and I was also accused of just trying to be deliberately different, difficult and awkward. Possibly the funniest I heard was “you are not a true Scotsman”. I always thought that was not wearing any scuds under your kilt, which I can assure you all I do partake in. When I explained to a mate that I spent the Serbia game between being on the phone to the Banks o’Dee-er and watching Terminator 2 he went off on one doubting my Scottishness. This seems to be the easy automatic go to line. Usually if not always used without listening to my point of view. It hasn’t just been now, this has gone on for years. Whether it’s been after refusing offers of tickets to Hampden games, or going to the pub for a midweek qualifier or whatever, I was always questioned about Scottishness when I showed indifference to the national team.
I have been to three Scotland games in thirty years of fitba viewing. The first was Switzerland at Pittodrie in ’93. A massively important game which didn’t go to plan and after a. 1-1 draw Scotland crashed out of USA ’94. The only reason I was there was because it was at Pittodrie, as easy as that. The second match was a Euro qualifier versus Georgia in 2007. A 2-1 win after a honking performance was only viewed as my cousin had organised a bus trip to celebrate the birth of his son. I wouldn’t have been at it otherwise. The third and final game was a friendly against Argentina almost twelve years ago to the day. Did I go to watch Scotland. Not really. I went to see Javier Zanetti, one of my footballing idols in the flesh. This came about after a pal had said if anyone procured him a ticket he would take on the duties of driving down and back in return. As it was a few days after my birthday I thought “El Tractor” and a few beers was a good birthday celebration. Which it was for the record. I highly enjoyable night despite the score. So as you can see I have never been dedicated to the Tartan Army cause.
I get the whole Tartan Army mindset. Check the fixtures, book your holidays from work accordingly, travel abroad, drink beer, have a laugh, take in other cultures. It sounds marvellous to me. I do similar with my soujourns across the continent chasing football bliss. Sixteen countries I have under my belt to date. The difference is, I make weekends out of multiple games across the country I visit and all in a neutral capacity . The beer, laughs, culture and fun is still there. So why if I do similar things do I not get involved following the national side? It is a good question. I bet it’s a hoot. I also bet I would love it,no doubt about it. I think a big part of it has been down to accessibility. Scotland for almost all of my days have played in Glasgow. Off the top of my head, Switzerland, Estonia, The Faroes and Belarus competitively visited Pittodrie since ’91. But they mostly came early on in the wee hours of my Pittodrie career. I have been somewhat alienated from it. We are not like Germany, Italy or the Netherlands among others who take their games round their country. As a kid I wouldn’t have expected my Dad to take me down to the central belt for games. So the physical aspect of support was never there. On top of this, I played for years on a Saturday which led to missing alot of games and this was coupled with training causing me to miss midweekers too. I think this was the most important factor in the lack of caring for the team. I just didn’t see them and that has stuck with me over the years. Out of site, out of mind. Thats really what it boils down to. They haven’t been in my life so it is like I do not have a natural draw to them like I do Aberdeen. The only team I have ever stated I support.
I woke up this morning and the papers are going mad, twitter and I am sure other social media outlets too, and rightfully so. Reaching the Euros is a huge boost for the nation. A great pick me up in what has been a shite year for most. It’s been tough for alot of people and last night has indefinitely lifted the spirit of a nation. It has given people something to look forward to. I have always said football is more than a game, this proves it. Football has put a smile on a nations face and maybe a few hangover induced grimaces this morning too but I can assure you every one will have been worth it. This is the kind of moment that causes baby booms. How many baby’s will be born in Scotland in mid August? It is a massive day for a nation that has had very little to shout about for a long long time. So for my pals, my Dad, the Tartan Army, the team and the nation. I am delighted. However I am not caught up in the euphoria. Just quietly chuffed in patriotic kind of way. It is good to see so many happy.
So to answer my own question. No I don’t have to support Scotland. I think the fact I chose to speak to a lovely lady and to watch a film I have seen about fifty times last night over streaming the game banishes me from every joining the Tartan Army I would guess. I wasn’t glued to the wireless. I wasn’t dancing about in Soul Bar like the arseholes that were, I wasn’t in the march through the streets of Aberdeen after the game with the other mutants that did. I didn’t watch it peacefully in front of the TV in a civilized manner. I also didn’t choose to watch it lying on my hotel bed with some Angolan beers which was the only option available to me. I havent seen any highlights and I doubt I will. No I preffered to ignore it. I didn’t get into they hype pre-game. It wasn’t for me. I didn’t jump on the band wagon like some did either. I woke up this morning pretty much unperturbed by goings on in Belgrade last night. Unlike most of our nation. I just can’t find myself drawn to the team and I think this is so far on its beyond fixing now. So again, no I am not a Scotland fan despite being Scottish. I most likely won’t watch the Slovakia game on Sunday, I won’t be heading to the Euros and I can guarantee I will add many more years on to my Hampden no show. I must have missed the memorandum stating “Thou must follow Scotland through thick and thin as it is the law”. Is it really that much of a crime? What it doesn’t do though is stop me being happy for the country on a whole though. I hope everyone had a ball last night and I hope fans are allowed at Euro ’21 and the real party can start. But for now, I will continue to support Aberdeen and pump money into non league clubs teams up and down the country. When it’s a good idea to do so i will be back on the continent too, without a “see you Jimmy” hat on show. Football is a choice. You chose to like it or not. You choose to support Aberdeen or Annan Athletic, Kilmarnock or Kello Rovers, St Mirren or St Cuthbert Wanderers. So surely you get the choice of supporting the national team or not without being childishly abused for it. Or am I missing something. Whether I am or not, I’m not overly fussed.
Enjoy the hangovers and happiness folks its long overdue. I hope the Euros will be fan friendly. But in true Scottish luck like the qualification itself, they won’t be.
Roll on next week when real fitba starts up again.