I think it’s time we sat down and had a conversation but I’m too afraid to face you directly. The thought of millions of furious, misled eyes staring back at me while I sheepishly list all the things that I think are wrong with your national team chills me to the bone. I also know where it would end; with my limp corpse hanging from the Wembley arch.
That is why I’ve chosen to write you this letter. I want you to see what the rest of us see and until someone sits down and points it out to you, you’ll live forever in blissful ignorance. If you want that then by all means, turn away from this letter. Print it out and use its burning to ignite your wicker effigy of Roy Hodgson if you must.
I worry about you, England.
It’s undoubtedly time to address the elephant in the room. An elephant wearing a kilt, sporran and with a massive saltire plastered across its hide like an SNP billboard. I’m Scottish. You remember us, of course.
We’re the ones who baulk with the indignation of a much better country every time a major tournament comes round and we’re not there. We’re the ones who claim to support, “whoever’s playing England” or arbitrarily pick a nation based on who has the nicest kit or where we once went on holiday. We’re the hypocrites who will happily take English players into our fold as long as their grandmother’s goldfish was bought in a pet shop in Linlithgow. The long and short is that we’re not very good.
Many English football fans believe that Scotland fans take an anti-English attitude because we hold a seven hundred year old grudge against King Edward I or because we’re jealous of the English Premier League’s quality. A sizable majority are like me; they trundle towards major tournaments wanting you to succeed.
It’s of no real detriment to Scotland if you win the Euros. If anything, it improves the quality of the England squad and improves our squad by ensuring that we get the former U21s who languish in the international wilderness and qualify for Scotland by virtue of the “Granny Rule”.
Frankly, it’s not you; it’s your media.