Getting Behind Scotland

RangersMedia .co.ukCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2009

PARIS - SEPTEMBER 12:  France coach Raymond Domenech (2nd right) shakes hands with the dejected French players after his side's 0-1 defeat after the Euro 2008 Group B qualifying match between France and Scotland at the Parc de Princes on September 12, 2007 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
With the vital World Cup qualifier coming up against Holland today I though I should write about the importance of the international game. As most people on this site know, I was born in Scotland and have lived most of my life in Australia.

Despite living here for so long I have always been fiercely proud of my Scottish origins and have kept a look out for their results.

When I was finally able to get Setanta for some extra cash on my regular cable tv provider I was as excited about the prospect of seeing Scotland international matches as I was about finally getting to see Rangers play again.

As such when I asked who would be watching the Macedonia game months back it came as a great shock that at least half the responses to my query were in the negative.

After further questions I was able to ascertain some people’s reasons. Some were disillusioned with the Scottish team after not qualifying for a major tournament in years and again looking poor under new manager George Burley.

These people in other threads though have said how they have and will continue to stick with Rangers through the dark days, so why not Scotland?

Others say that the Tartan Army with their jimmy hats, kilts and anti-English sentiment deter them. For me though this is one of the reasons we have such a great support and something that sets us apart from other fans.

Everybody knows that these things don’t really represent everyday Scottish life but it’s fun to go over the top every now and again. As for the anti-English sentiment, surely that’s part and parcel of international football. As the closest country to us geographically that is any good and with the history we share it should come as no surprise that this happens.

The thing that I find ironic is the same people who hate the anti-English sentiment in the Tartan Army and who suggest that “They have watched Braveheart too many times” are perfectly fine with anti-Irish sentiment shown towards Celtic supporters.

I think both of these cases are harmless, I doubt any member of the Tartan Army actually hates every English person much in the same way I doubt any Rangers fan hates the Irish just because Celtic supporters identify with that country more than their own.

I think the problem here though is that some Rangers supporters are guilty of the same thing.

They think of themselves more as Brits than as Scottish and so the anti-English sentiments bother them more because it implies a hatred of the Union.

I have no problem with Rangers fans being proud of the Union and being British and the monarchy but I think we should also remember that Rangers is a Scottish team and that in international football there is no Britain.

I think the Scotland Day last month, is a step in the right direction as I think we should get Rangers fans identifying with Scotland as much as Britain.

Others amongst our support claim that they just don’t care about international football. I personally think this is the wrong attitude to have. Sure international football doesn’t require the time or passion you put into supporting a club from week to week but it’s a brand of football that is still exciting.

Many players nowadays in club football play more for the money than for the jersey but in international football everyone is there to play for their country. It’s a brand of football that lets people put aside their weekly squabbles with other sets of fans within their country for a while and unite behind one team.

It doesn’t matter if you support Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen or Dundee United, when Scotland is playing these people unite behind one team.

People who don’t think international football is important should look at the example of Australia. In this country football is still a fledgling sport and the Hyundai A-League pretty small fish compared to the Scottish Premier League.

The top team only draws crowds of 20,000 a week. Even though crowds are much bigger for other sports which, up until recently, Australia dominated it is on the international stage that Australian support really shines. No matter what sport it is, whether rugby league, rugby union, cricket, football, or even swimming Australians will get behind their country.

When Australia played Uruguay for the right to play in the last World Cup 90,000 people were in the crowd and everybody was glued to the tv sets. During the World Cup people turned out in droves for a sport which they have not even fully embraced yet just because they want to see Australia do well.

This is the kind of support Scotland needs from everyone not just the brilliant support we have attending Hampden. So I hope when Scotland play Holland and Iceland in a few weeks every Scottish member of this forum watches the game and provides the same kind of passionate support for their country that I know they have for Rangers.

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