Why I might support England

BY the time you read this England could be on their way to winning the World Cup or be on their way home with the tails between their legs. That is the fate of the weekly journalist.

But I won’t let stop me because I’m getting fed up with being lectured by the PC brigade that I must support the English.


The arguments for Irish people to change their ways and support the Saxons are very thin indeed. We’re supposed to have mended our relationship with England and to have let bygones be bygones. We’re supposed to have matured beyond our historical anger. We’re supposed to support England because we support English teams. We’re supposed to support England because we’re neighbours.

Let’s start with the last on first. Do you think that Meath supporters will be cheering on the Dubs this summer? No, that’s called rivalry. Think Man U and Man C. Think Everton and Liverpool.

Without rivalry, a lot of sport would lose its fun. Rivalry may at its worse end degenerate into violence but the vast majority of people know where to start and stop. And there’s no greater rivels than near neighbours. So that scuppers that argument.

Yes, we’re getting over the ‘800-years-of-oppression’ but that doesn’t mean that bad things didn’t happen. The lofty appeal for us to dwell on the things we have in common also wants us to forget our shared bad history.

And if maturity is your trump card for supporting England then it’s a busted flush. The whole of international sport is organised along racial and ethnic lines. If you really want to be mature you would’n’t support Ireland either because it’s downright silly (and in some ways sinister) to support someone just because they belong to the same ethnic group as you do.

The reason we go along with the nonsense of international sport is because it’s fun. A bit of crack. Where you can display your ethnic prejudice and share banter with those not of your ethnic group. It’s probably best not to think about the maturity of the whole thing because there isn’t any in it. 

Finally, there’s the English teams argument. If that was the case very few in Ireland would support Ireland in a game between Ireland and England because so few people here follow League of Ireland clubs. Talk about following yourself up your own…..

So that’s all clear. There are no good arguments why we must support England. But what is becoming a total embarrassment is our desire to support whatever team England is playing.

This is because our rivalry with England is asymetrical. They don’t count us as rivals. When English people listen to Irish people in a pub cheering against them it comes across as mean-spirited, childish and boorish. Which it is. 

I’m pretty neutral about the World Cup. I find myself taking sides on what is happening on the field. If the English team give it a lash, go out and play with spirit and passion, and if they deserve success, then I’ll support them. 

Can I say fairer than that?