Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 World Cup: Anybody but Bougherra?

England v Algeria offers some SPL interest tonight in the shape of Madjid Bougherra.

He certainly shouldn't be feeling the strain of a long season after his less than strenuous efforts for Rangers over the course of the last campaign. Good player, apparently much coveted, and he'll be anxious to impress against players that he'll be hoping to face next season.

I don't like the guy though. I don't like the fact that he plays for Rangers, don't like his attitude on the pitch, don't like his attitude off the pitch with the extended international breaks and pathetic excuses.

I mention this because it brings the Anyone But England stuff into focus for me. As regular readers will know I'm an ABE neutral. Not supporting them, not supporting their opponents.

Last week for England v USA almost everyone in the pub was a Hibs fan. When Dempsey shot and Green blundered there was much cheering and clapping.

Will that happen if Madjid Bougherra scores tonight? And, if we must pick sides, would it not be more natural for me to pick the team that doesn't contain a player that I actively dislike and who plays for a rival of my club?

Should I not support the team that contains a succession of players that I have no affinity for, a couple who I dislike because of what I have read about them in the papers and a few I admire?

Is the truer footballing instinct for me, and - without wanting to speak for anyone else - all non-Rangers fans in Scotland, not be to cheering against Bougherra's Algeria tonight?

Possibly. On the other hand the Scotland v England rivalry is, as we're always reminded, about more than just football.

It's historical.

It would have to be as we've not played them for a decade.

In which case I should probably reserve judgement until I have the relevant genealogical information on which of the England players ancestors fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie.

And, by extension, I should really be clued up as to which of Craig Levein's players are drawn from the Scottish stock that marched with Cumberland at Culloden so that I can roundly boo them during Scotland's next game.

And, yes, I know it's all supposed to be a bit of fun. And that's fine. But I fear the conceit of the joke wears ever thinner with every tournament we fail to qualify for. As I've said before 12 years is a long, long time. Watching England, watching anyone, is becoming more about a gnawing sense of jealousy and despair than about "fun."

On the whole I think I'll stick with the position of interested neutrality. I'll greet all events with my best attempt at an enigmatic smile.

I'm sure there will be plenty of others to get excited if Magic rises above the England defence to nod home the winner.

> Actually that enigmatic smile was replaced with bewildered confusion when the USA scored. I wasn't looking at the screen at the time. As with all major tournaments you know there's about to be a goal when you see that I've diverted my attention away from the TV.