Saturday, 15 October 2011

Why the fuss? England and Wales

So, Wales are out of the world cup. Most of us will blame the referee, Alain Rolland, but the simple fact is that even with 14 men, Wales should have won. Warburton's tackle on Vincent Clerc was not malicious and may not even have been intended but it gave Rolland a choice to make and the choice he made was red.
Again, many will cry foul that a man with a French father was chosen to referee the game. You can't call Rolland's integrity into question but to prevent the issue even being raised, the sensible thing would have been to appoint a different referee.

After the loss, in addition to the exasperation being poured forth from Welsh hearts, Twitter was also awash with exchanges between Welsh and English Tweeters which included the gambit of genuine sympathy, friendly banter, condescension and outright glee.

I enjoy a good bit of banter with my English fans. I certainly don't hate the English any more than I hate any other nation. Each individual must be considered on their own merit. With that said, I do find it hard to give my unqualified support to England in sport. I am far more likely to support teams that are playing the game the way I like it to be played and more often than not, England fail to deliver.

The issue of the Welsh (Scots and Irish) supporting whoever was played was playing was raised by Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore),  instantly starting a firestorm. Stan then went on to say that he would never support a team whose followers booed his national anthem & a minority of whom burnt down cottages because of the owners nationality. Cue a barrage of vitriol against English atrocities at home and abroad. Stan has since deleted the Tweet.

Let's be clear - booing another nation's national anthem or showing it disrespect is poor. It shows a lack of class bordering on racism. In my experience, Wales is full of people who hate the English - Wales does have it's racists. These are the type of racists however who think it's fine to have an English friend because 'that's different'. Are they the worst kind I wonder? With that said, certain English attitudes don't contribute in a constructive to the problem. Nothing is more likely to enrage than indifference in superiority.

Stan's final comment on the matter was 'Why the fuss?'. Unfortunately, Stan's opinion is at the root of matter. England has never been subjugated to another nation where as Wales, Scotland and Ireland have been invaded and humbled by their English neighbours. The glories of the British Empire don't mean as much when you have no choice but to take part (I am reminded of a line from the film The Last of the Mohicans, "I thought British Policy was to make the World England, Sir").

The Celtic nations' subjugation occurred in the past but each has managed to maintain its own integrity. We cannot forget about that past however as it is part of our story. It's in our songs, our history and our culture. That is what I feel some English folk fail to understand.

I for one hope the banter continues - having bragging rights until the next match is worth going through the emotions of a big match.
Extra: I had a conversation with a Welsh friend who lives in England on Sunday and she brought to attention another facet of this dynamic, namely an inferiority complex. Some of those who feel threatened by what they perceive as actual or projected English superiority actually perpetuate Celtic 'inferiority' with their attitudes towards the English. It encourages those who look on the Celts with distain to maintain their position and locks further generations into the same dynamic.


  1. Strictly speaking, "God save the Queen" is not another nation's national anthem, it is the anthem of the U.K. not England alone. Anything wrong with England having its own anthem, instead of using what is meant to be everyone's?

  2. Yes, technically God Save the Queen is the British 'anthem' but it has always been used by England for sporting purposes. I don't think I've ever sung it - not even in school.