On the day of Scotland’s first World Cup qualifier of the new campaign, the country is divided over the issue of whether to support the team.
This is the legacy of recent bitter battles between the Scottish Football Association and The Rangers FC; however, it is the culmination of years of alienation of Rangers fans carried out by certain sections of the Scotland support.
The recent booing of Rangers player Ian Black summed up the rancid hostility felt by the Tartan Army toward Rangers and its players.
Of course, Rangers Football Club has a bigger active support base than the Tartan Army will ever have.
This is why Scotland is divided on this sad day.
Even Rangers fans who remained loyal in their support of Scotland over the past couple of decades have had enough.
And Rangers manager Ally McCoist’s noble, if misguided, attempt to point out to Rangers supporters that the SFA and the Scotland team are not the same entity has fallen on deaf ears.
For my part, I grew up supporting Rangers and Scotland. My dad would take me to Scotland games and it would be like he and I were the only ones singing the national anthem amid a wall of boos. This was when Scotland sang the real national anthem – the days before a Kenny Rogers look-alike in a kilt took to the field after singing a rebel song and shouting “Come On Scotland!” in what can only be described as a camp Braveheart takeoff.
I stopped supporting Scotland a long time ago. When I did, there were only a few, it seemed, felt like I did among my fellow bluenoses.
Now it’s an army of us.
For me, as for many others, there is only one team in Scotland. I am content to think that the team I support represents both Scotland and Great Britain. That is the great thing about Rangers – it is more than a club, more than a football team. It is the very expression of national pride and identity.
I confess to having a wee laugh at the rabid bunch of English-haters and mockers of the British Throne who infest the ranks of Scotland supporters. They are cheering on a team with the most ancient and venerable of Royal emblems on their shirts – the Lion Rampant, which is the Royal Flag of Scotland.
Those who have politicised Scottish football by targeting Rangers as a bastion of Unionism, thus creating the awful rift that divides, not only the football-supporting public in Scotland but the nation at large, have a lot to answer for.
Their attempts to polarise Scottish society are now clearly distinguished in footballing terms, with people supporting the nationalist team of Scotland or the British team of Rangers.
A divided land – exactly their aim.
Only Rangers fans are not buying it. Most do not see being Scottish and British as mutually exclusive but as a both/and concept.
I myself am fiercely Scottish and proudly British. Scottish by birth and British by choice.
I won’t be supporting Scotland today, nor will I feel any guilt about it.
My own preference now, very much bolstered by the recent Olympics, is for a Great Britain national side.
Great Britain is the nation I live in.
That is why I no longer refer to Scotland as the national side.
As the Tartan Army keep telling us when they belt out their anthem of hate – Scotland is not a nation.
For once, I agree with them.
Lifted from my football blog