Tom Gordon – the hack who presumably has been brought in to alter the dangerously-close-to-independent-balanced-reporting on ‘the National Question’ that the Sunday Herald has been dabbling in these past few years, must be pissed off with this eloquent article by Ian Bell on the Team GB / London Olympics Fiasco. Bell also has written this weekend the best analysis of media & country in this issue of Scottish Review of Books (print only I think) in a review of The Media in Scotland (Eds Neil Blain and David Hutchison) :
I don’t know much – ancient joke alert – about football. I’m a Hibs supporter; share my pain. I know a slight amount, nevertheless, about secretaries of state for Scotland, and what is expected of them.
Pathetic loyalty and “the government of the day” tend to be good places to start. In that world, Scotland is at the other end of the track. In this world, we have Olympic Games.
Tessa Jowell, currently the minister responsible for all the missing billions, apparently wishes she could have her time again. Perhaps, she says wistfully, London 2012 was not such a good idea. Perhaps it was a Russell Brand joke. But never fear, Jim Murphy is here.
Like his boss at No 10, Mr Murphy still refuses to grasp why we hicks in the sticks might fail to enthuse over a Team GB. He calls and he raises. He seeks “guarantees” from Fifa folk whom I would not wish to see in the vicinity of a used car. Then he talks up the unifying Celtic-British theme.
So can we, as the politicians might say, go back to basics? Here’s Team GB. If you are very lucky, and if his knees hold out, one haphazard Man U midfielder might just be on the bench to carry the hopes of a nation. Alex Ferguson has declined the stooge’s coaching honour. Should I then wave a flag?
Face it: you want me to support an English team? It won’t happen. And the minister responsible for my region thinks I am deplorable for declining the honour? This is not how football, down the ages and across the oceans, works. It. Won’t. Happen. The pebble at my heel has to do with those, Mr Murphy included, who pretend not to know the facts as they affect our “home nations”. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get no guarantees from Fifa, and never have done. This is not a secret.
We exist, failing a change in the constitutional weather, on sufferance. We are not a nation, officially, any of us. Sections of the Fifa “family” refuse even to understand the historic anomaly that allows Scottish blue or Welsh red. Were we green republican Irish (or equivalent) the issue would not arise. But that’s another story.
Mr Murphy’s eagerness to play new Labour politics in this context is predictable, but sad. Is our survival as a footballing entity to be put at risk because Gordon Brown needs a headline and Murphy has a new non-job? Apparently so.
I could support Armenia instead. I have reasons. Or how about San Marino? Malta show promise. I could also follow any available political party. And then become, in one of my dreams, Secretary of State for Scotland.
Here’s a sentence I don’t type every week: God bless the SFA. What did the suits say last week, after all? Tell them, as one used to say, to chase themselves. Fifa and Downing Street and Dover House. Get lost.
The very notion of a Team GB mistakes the reality of Scottish football, far less the truths of Scottish life. We will not go into that oblivion. It is not who we are. Or as Mr Murphy forgot to ask by accident: who will turn up, exactly, for Team GB? Not, to finish the rhyme without the bad word, me.