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Wha's like us? A few more than we thought

With the Westminster government in a tizz about what constitutes "British" standards, while on this side of the border we decide whether to remove ourselves from that debate, could the evidence from the year's biggest and arguably most important global gathering be that our nearest neighbours are suddenly becoming more Scottish?

The appearance of typical England fans is changing. Picture: Getty
The appearance of typical England fans is changing. Picture: Getty

The build-up to and reaction since their first match has, after all, been terribly, terribly un-English.

For years we have become used to endless pre-tournament hype followed by hysterical hubris, but this time around expectations have been so calculatedly lowered that it was almost a surprise on Saturday night to see England get the ball into the Italian penalty box in the first 10 minutes.

For the most part there has been some humility mixed with more than a smidgeon of awareness among most in what is supposed to be a pan-British media, so that not everyone on these islands will necessarily be heart-broken if England exit early.

There has, of course, been the odd, more characteristic slip-up, notably the chap who sought to assure us during France's opener that in spite of being heavily out-numbered, he and his co-commentator had "loyally" cheered England on in the bar the previous night.

This was, however, the same numpty whose sidekick later had to explain that the "goal" he was describing had hit the wrong side of the net, while he simply could not grasp the less than complex goal-line technology involved in the award of a French goal.

In terms of how things have changed since the British Broadcasting Corporation was a bastion of competence and objectivity - exemplified by the work of our own Bill McLaren, who would describe his son-in-law scoring a try in a similar tone to that which he adopted when an opponent did the same - his performance was a salutary reminder.

Indeed, for all that the absence of the likes of the Terrys and the Coles, whose off-field antics made them so hard to pull for, it is essentially the media that is to blame for the fact that even some born-and-bred in England's capital readily sign up to the ABE (Anyone But England) school of sports supporting.

As with their rugby players, who are coached by a former Scottish age grade internationalist, this England team are led by a man who comes across as eminently decent and down-to-earth. Indeed, Roy Hodgson has, at all times, sought to maintain perspective and composure as he prepares his players in Brazil.

The lager-lout support, meanwhile, seems to have been replaced by a happier bunch of party-goers who have followed from the Tartan Army guide to winning friends and influencing people. Rather than mass recriminations, then, the environment has been created in which England can lose a match with considerable grace and even take pride taken from gallant defeat.

So much so that without trace of irony a wee ginger-haired, Scottish accented lad was interviewed on the Copa Cabana beach praising England's performance and claiming that he still thinks they will qualify from Group B.

The late, great Scottish nationalist Margo MacDonald, once credited with expressing an ambition to witness her fellow Scots shrugging their shoulders and saying dispassionately, "Oh . . . I hear England won today!" would surely have been proud of him.

Yet if England really are becoming more Scottish then God help them as, of all opponents, Uruguay and Costa Rica await them in the coming days.

So, here's tae us, wha's like us?

Maybe a few more than we thought . . . albeit it might be an idea to reserve final judgement until we see the media reaction should England win a game or two.

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

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