Of course, football really has nothing to do with anything else, least of all our place in the world or, for that matter, our relations with any other part of the United Kingdom. Ninety minutes is a flicker compared to four centuries. Football should be a thing on its own - a safety valve for the sillier, hopefully harmless, forms of nationalism. Yet we thought that this year, of all years, we had rediscovered our national identity. We invested so much optimism in our Parliament, as we did in our international team. We flattered our politicians and footballers and we deceived ourselves. Therein lies our let-down. We think we deserve better. But we are stuck with politicians and sports stars who fall well below expectations. Donald Dewar knows what it feels like to be Craig Brown, stuck with high hopes, hot air and a bunch of disappointments on legs.
The Courier and
What are football supporters for? Cheering goals - certainly; creating atmosphere - of course. What about lifting a team on the back foot? There were periods in the second half of Saturday's match at Hampden when the famous roar was uncharacteristically muted. As it was, the most eagerly looked forward to contest in years required all police leave in Strathclyde to be cancelled and reinforcements to be drafted in. The day we can dispense with such obviously necessary precautions will be the day we rediscover a sense of proportion, not to say sanity. What about Wednesday and the decider? Omens are for the superstitions; players need believe in themselves more than overwrought histrionics. And the fans should get behind them until the final whistle.
England were bad and Scotland were worse. Yet bad teams can still be beaten, just as dire teams can still come good. If Keegan's men can score two goals away from home with far less possession than their opponents, there is no divine law that says Scotland can only do less. It will need some thought, nevertheless; that and some attitude. The tide ebbing from Hampden as the skies darkened on Saturday afternoon had the mournful look of the cheated. Not angry, precisely, and not even sullen, at least for the most part. Just bewildered, conscious that something had disappeared from the national game, somehow aware that the side had not even thought to rise to the occasion. As winter evening came on and the Tartan Army returned to cities and towns all over the country, banners drooping, flags furled, they did not seem resentful. The best word, perhaps, was bereft. The national side owes them one.
The Press and Journal
In days gone by, a home defeat to England on the football field would have brought talk of national mourning. On Saturday, Scotland lost, once again, to the Auld Enemy at Hampden Park, but despite a few skirmishes with rival fans in the city, the reaction to the defeat was relatively muted. It came as no surprise that England emerged victorious. England are ranked higher, have several players among the superstars of European soccer, and have a wider player base from which to choose. Scotland, however, were far from outclassed. It's not over until the final whistle blows and for the Tartan Army, the full judgement on Scotland's performance will be reserved until the curtain comes down after the return leg on Wednesday night. Thousands of Scotland fans will make the journey southwards, with few truly expecting Scotland to overturn the two-goal deficit. However, the players and the fans will travel in hope.Reuse content