Thursday 10 June 2010

Red, White, and Blue

I've never been a fan of football. In fact, I don't think I've ever watched a whole football match from beginning to end in my life. When I was a small boy, watching the Swan Stars play on the Murch Field in Dinas Powys consisted of spending ten minutes on the touchline before we all got bored and went to kick around a ball of our own in a far corner of the field.

So no-one will be surprised if I don't particularly suffer from world cup fever. I don't think that I've paid any attention at all to the world cup since 1966.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention then either, to be honest, but my youngest brother did manage to collect a complete set of the little plastic coins of the England team's players which were being given away with petrol. That was quite an achievement, really, considering that we didn't have a car. Indeed, only about three families in the whole street owned cars, but one of those had no small children of their own, and were feeling kindly towards us…

I can still remember the song, though. World Cup Willy it was called, although a name like that would probably be taken to mean something rather different today.

Insofar as I and my friends supported any team at all, it would inevitably have been England. There simply wasn't, in my part of the world at least, anything like the same awareness of the difference between England and Britain as there is today. For most of us in Wales, that has changed, and markedly so. But it still hasn't changed that much in England, and we don't always understand that.

So, when Cameron pointedly urged MPs from Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to get behind the England team, I think that he really didn't understand the way that will sound to many of us. We've moved on; they haven't. He simply doesn't understand that his remarks are likely to have precisely the opposite effect to that intended.

As for me, well with the avowed lack of interest in the game itself which I outlined above, I won't be supporting anyone. But I usually feel a slight surge of pleasure when any small nation defeats a much larger one at any sport. I somehow doubt that Cameron would understand that, either.


Anonymous said...

Hey John.

I thought you were actually English but had learnt Welsh. Not sure where I got that from. Agree 100% with your post.

John Dixon said...

Cardiff born, Barry-born mother, father from Newcastle on Tyne. Guess I get to choose my nationality, but then I've long argued that nationality is always a question of self-identity anyway.

And yes, I've learned Welsh.

Adam Higgitt said...

"But I usually feel a slight surge of pleasure when any small nation defeats a much larger one at any sport"

I suppose Mr Cameron will have to make do with your support when England play the USA at least ;-)

John Dixon said...


I wouldn't even know whether the two teams get to play each other!

The point is (almost) a fair one, and it's well made. Not sure, though, that 'slight surge of pleasure' after the event really counts as support...

Unknown said...

Well I would say that "Geordies" from Newcastle-on-Tyne are ethnically Scots! (with a trace of Norse admixture perhapos).

John Dixon said...


I doubt that most Geordies would agree with that, somehow. But England doesn't really have a single consistent sense of what it is to be 'English', in the same way that thee's no single consistent sense of being 'Welsh'.

In ethnic terms, I think we're all caucasians - differences within that definition are more cultural, in the widest sense of that term, than ethnic, aren't they?