So apparently there’s a fitba competition on. It’s not like it’s important or anything. It’s hardly RuPaul’s Drag Race, but it’s being foisted upon us all. English fitba commentators on the telly keep saying “we”, which comes as something of a surprise to those of us of a Caledonian, Cymric, or Hibernian persuasion, who were not aware that “we” were playing. Now because Engurland have got through to the semifinals, the telly is full of English sports pundits telling everyone that “we” are bringing fitba home.
There is a common misconception that those of us in Scotland don’t want England to win at the fitba because we hate the English. This is not true. The real reason that so many people in Scotland don’t want England to win at the fitba is because when England does win the British media, which people in Scotland also pay for, is, to use a technical term, unfuckingbearable.
It’s not that Scotland doesn’t want England to win because Scots hate the English. It’s that we don’t want England to win because English sports commentators on that telly that we have to pay a licence fee for too are poor losers and even worse winners. Sports commentators are Brexit writ large. They have an unshakeable conviction that the English team is special and that the world owes it. They are the Donald Trumps of sport. It’s their arrogance which sticks in the craw of so many people in Scotland, and so when the English team loses the reaction of a great many people north of the border is precisely the same as the reaction that you get when you’re watching a Youtube video of some smart arse attempting a show off bicycle trick only they fall badly and smash their testicles on a railing. This has nothing to do with being anti-English, and everything to do with the satisfaction of seeing a self-assured balloon being burst.
Lest anyone claim that I am merely saying this because I am a Scottish person who is jealous because the Scottish team is rubbish, I’d just like to point out that I give precisely the square root of hee-haw about the fortunes of the Scottish team. I’m an equal opportunities bigot when it comes to fitba. A plague on all your houses, and teams. I find a never ending sense of amusement at the emotional energy my compatriots put into a sport which we as a nation are spectacularly shite at. Scottish fitba is the very definition of the triumph of hope over experience. I care a great deal that Shangela was robbed on Drag Race All Stars 3. Caring about a fitba team being robbed, not so much.
However I do care about historical accuracy. Can we just get one thing straight please. If England does manage to win the World Cup, football will not be coming home. It will be coming to next door to home, because England didn’t invent the fitba. It would be Scotland which invented the game the world now calls football, except America. But then Americans don’t play any sport that any other country plays because that way the American team always gets to win. That’s how they can have a national baseball competition and call it the World Series. Bless.
While we’re at it, Scotland also invented golf, curling, and the word fuck. I don’t pay enough attention to golf to know whether we’re any good at it or not, because golf is possibly the only sport on the planet which is more boring than cricket, and that’s quite some achievement. That’s like saying that there’s a politician who’s even more boring and lacking in charisma than the monotone and grey James Kelly MSP. I present you Richard Leonard, the golf of politics.
Apparently Scotland is quite good at curling, but no one really gives a shit about curling so that’s not much of a claim. It’s just lawn bowling for freezing people and it only manages to surface in the public consciousness once every four years when the winter Olympics are on and the sports commentators on the telly are desperately in search of a sport that Team GB doesn’t suck at. Usually Team GB does as well at the Winter Olympics as it does at Brexit. The British curling team is of course made up of Scottish people, but you’re not allowed to say that on TV in case you upset Clare Balding. Scottish is not “we”, apparently.
We, but not in the sense that Clare Balding understands it, so Scottish people then, are however world champions at the swerry wurds. The word fuck was first attested in literature in the poetry of the Scottish writer Dunbar, and according to the Oxford English Dictionary the word most likely has a “northern” origin. Which means Scotland. Just ask Gordie Broon. So that’s a fucking result. Unfortunately the world swerry championship isn’t broadcast by the BBC, even though it’s very much in evidence in every home in Scotland that’s tuned into BBC Question Time of a Thursday. Or to give it its proper title, Fucking BBC Tory Panel Question Time With That Spunkmuppet Wankgob Farage Who Can Fuck Right Off And Then Come Back So He Can Fuck Off Again And Where The Fuck Did They Find All Those Fucking Tories in Dundee.
But back to the fitba, which Scotland invented. The world’s oldest surviving football was discovered behind some panelling in Stirling Castle, and is thought to date to 1540. Coincidentally, this was also the last time that the local fitba team won anything. There are documents showing that King James IV paid two Scots shillings for a bag of “fut ballis” in 1497. The forerunners of the modern rules of the game were emerging in Scotland during the 15th and 16th centuries, hundreds of years before anything similar occurred in England.
What the English FA came up with when it was founded in 1863 was a rather different game, something of a cross between rugby and a bar-room brawl. It was in fact considerably more lethal than tablet, which is pretty dangerous indeed and which likewise quite often results in the loss of teeth. The game that was first standardised by the early Football Association in England had rather more in common with what we now know as Australian Rules Football, a contact sport allowing handling the ball and running with it. It was this early form of proto-football that the first colonists took to Australia and played when they were having a wee break from committing genocide on Native Australians.
It took Scottish people to refine the raw and violent game being played in England with the sophistication of hundreds of years of Scottish grace. The modern form of the game was devised in 1867 in Glasgow, with the invention of passing. The lads who gathered to play at Queens Park had obtained a copy of the English FA’s rules, and amended it to create the game that’s played all around the world today. The average Scot was physically smaller because of malnutrition, which was widely considered to be a Union benefit back in Victorian times. And indeed still is according to Iain Duncan Smith. The reason they changed the rules was to give the physically smaller Scots a level playing field against the physically larger English players. Football wasn’t a game invented by the English. Quite the reverse, it was a game invented so that the English could be taken on. Those early Scottish exponents of what was now the beautiful game went south to teach it to England, and became known as the Scotch Professors.
So in the unlikely event that England does win in Russia, we will at least be spared all those pundits on the telly greetin like weans about how they were robbed. Instead we’ll just have the triumphalism and they’ll be going on about it ad nauseum for the next 100 years. I’m kinda hoping that they do win because it’s quite likely to make a lot of people in Scotland vote for independence as that will be the only way that we can get it off the pissin’ TV. But the England team won’t be “bringing football home”. They’ll be bringing it next door. Close, but no cigar.
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