I HAVE always found amusing the claim by English fans and commentators that a Euro 2020 win will see football “coming home”.

If it were truly “coming home” it would be to Scotland and not to England it would be returning, for it was the Scots who truly devised the modern version of the game as we know it. Without our civilising intervention, what England might have given the world was just another version of rugby.

When the so-called Football Association was formed at the instigation of a young solicitor from Hull, Ebenezer Morley, what he proposed would be seen now as a basis for rugby with extra violence.

Morley’s draft laws provided that a player could not only run with the ball in his hands but that opponents could stop him by charging, holding, tripping or hacking. A more civilised code did emerge, but the English game was still mainly a question of head-down dribbling.

It was the Scots who had the notion of artfully distributing the ball among the players. This started with young men, from Perthshire and the Highlands mainly, who gathered at Queen’s Park in Glasgow in 1867. They obtained a copy of the FA laws and amended them to conform with an almost scientific blend of dribbling and passing.

When they invented passing, these men had invented football. Far from being an English game, it was one that was conceived to confound the English because the Scots, being generally smaller than their opponents in football’s oldest international rivalry, could hardly afford to take them on physically.

As Scots we can truly feel pride some pride this week as England take on Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi-final. To have the English borrowing our history is quite a compliment, the only downside being that we are no longer there to share in the glory of our invention of the "beautiful game".

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.


IN my view, Shelley Kerr’s recent column ("No barriers to who gets to pick up the mic for TV", Herald Sport, July 2) provided a welcome and accurate assessment of the improvement in football coverage in Scotland, with the contributions of an increasing number of female presenters and pundits. It was a piece which I thought would be well received by everyone with an interest in sport. I can only imagine that James Miller (Letters, July 3), had been self-isolating, maybe since the mid-1980s when he emerged, his views intact, only to fall upon this self-same column.

If footballers (whether retired or still playing) are able to use their experience to offer informed analysis as to how a particular pattern of play developed or to suggest an explanation as to why the defensive formation of a given team is not working well, then that is pretty much what we as the viewing/listening audience are looking for. Some pundits are better than others but it is the quality of their insight we’re interested in, not their gender.

If we were to nudge Mr Miller’s argument along slightly, would he seriously suggest that Hazel Irvine should be looking for other work because she hasn’t had to stage a late comeback against Ronnie O’Sullivan during a closing session at the Crucible? Or that Sue Barker should have nothing to say about Andy Murray’s all-too-brief return to Wimbledon because her Grand Slam title was won over "only" three sets? Really?

Pundits are an important part of sports broadcasting for the obvious reason that we cannot all understand every aspect of the sports we listen to or watch. We sometimes rely on their expertise (and occasionally humour) to help make the coverage that bit more accessible for all of us. When they’re doing their job well, it doesn’t matter whether the analysis comes from Mary or Malky. It really doesn’t.

Andy Crichton, Ladybank.

* SPORTS persons do not necessarily translate from successful performers at their chosen sport to competent presenter, pundit or commentator. Indeed it is quite a rare accomplishment.

Gender should not influence employment prospects. The ability to communicate fluently is surely the prime prerequisite of a good commentator. Unfortunately many talented onfield performers fail to make the transition. This becomes excruciatingly obvious when encouraged to go live on air.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.


AS a keen follower of tennis I always look forward to the Wimbledon fortnight, but whether it's male or female players we are subjected to a cacophony of screams, shouts, roars and tantrums, not to mention arguments with umpires and line court staff.

It's about time these grossly-overpaid players were censured by the All England Club.

People pay dearly to watch and shouldn't be subjected to this behaviour. What message does it send out to the young of today?

Neil Stewart, Balfron.


I WAS interested in your report featuring the football match in 1960 between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden ("Going for gold: Di Stefano’s medal from fabled Hampden night for sale", The Herald, July 3). I was one of the Scottish country dancers from Glasgow University Dance Club who were part of the pre-match entertainment. Imagine my surprise when I went in to teach my first class in school the next morning when a boy stuck his hand in the air and said: "Please Miss, you were better than Puskas."

He must have had good eyesight.

Anne Cormack, Pitlochry.

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