I WASN'T going to watch the England v Scotland footer match the other night.
I thought we'd get tanked, or that English supporters might cause trouble which would be attributed to both sides in the traditional manner. Thankfully, the match was not hyped aggressively by the media, and took place in relatively good spirits for a football encounter.
I long for games, at any level, between teams whose fans like each other. But it rarely happens. Online, you read fans saying they love the aggro and nasty songs. It gives the occasion an edge. Frankly, I prefer blurs.
My one and only visit to Wembley was a blur. We got tanked 5-1, I remember that. In those days (1975) of a strong Union — despite the SNP getting 11 MPS elected the year before — it was Scottish fans who invariably caused trouble.
Indeed, I witnessed a scary attempt to get at the television broadcasters in their glass castle.
Perhaps the attackers believed the myth of biased English commentators. In fact, Scottish commentators are far more biased then English ones, who are professional, balanced and painfully fair. Should I read that sentence back?
Oh, to hell, moving swiftly on, for that Wembley game my mate and I flew down by plane and hitch-hiked back to Scotia. Teenagers on a plane. Under-age drink had been taken, and I apologise to the Scottish actor at whose head we threw items of food. It was the first time, outwith the air cadets, that I'd been on a plane. Civilian plane, d'you see? Rules a bit fuzzy.
The rule in those days was that Scotland v England aroused more passion in Scots. Wembley was overwhelmingly ours. I didn't encounter one England fan the whole time, apart from our mate, who put us up for the night.
The other night, Wembley looked split 70-30 in favour of England. The Jocks made most noise, but there seemed little hate from either side, and the home fans restricted themselves largely to singing the British national anthem as if it was English. Bless.
England won 3-2, deservedly so, as the Scots wilted badly in the second half and, as properly trained managers invariably do, Gordon Strachan waited too long to make substitutions. Gordon, a fellow Hibee for whom I've much respect, took the defeat to heart, lamenting that the team could have been heroes. That auld sang.
Another sang and dance has been made about writer Alasdair Gray's latest remarks. He criticised Scottish arts bodies for being "Scotophobic" and appointing English administrators to top posts.
Hmm. I fear Alasdair didn't get the memos about not mentioning anything to do with the E-people. Or indeed The Other Place. E-land. I feel a frisson of fear myself when I mention it.
Like no other time I recall, we write looking over our shoulders, in a country still dominated by a British Labour establishment made all the more bitter as it fades.
The Yes campaign whispers, the No campaign shouts. It shouts down. As it must. In a debate that's essentially about education, the more people know the more they back Yes. Nobody changes from Yes to No. It's all the other way about.
Hence, all the raucous noise comes from the No fans. Worst still, south of the Border, anti-Scottish abuse, both in print and below the line online, is horrendous. There is, thankfully, no like response here.
Everything has changed since the Sixties and Seventies, days of tartan-trimmed troosers and torn-down goalposts.
Back then, when the Union was never under real threat, I remember anti-Englishness being casually widespread. The stronger the Union the greater the anti-Englishness.
Ironically, the most I've heard personally in recent years was during a previous sporting occasion, involving ardent Unionists performing their "proud Scot" pantomime.
Under devolution, anti-Englishness has decreased dramatically while, paradoxically, anti-Scottishness is at scary levels in England.
That said, watching the other night's game on telly at least, Scotland played England at football without it becoming a hate-fest — on either side.
And if football fans, of all people, can get on with each other, surely the rest of us can.
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