NORRIE T MACDONALD: Time we banished the ‘anyone but England’ attitude

The England squad, pic Facebook/England Team

If you reacted with glee at Italy’s winning of the football European Championship, then there’s very probably a mirror somewhere in your house that you need to stand in front of and have a long, hard, look into.

I’m sure that, irrespective of who had competed against our nearest neighbours on Sunday night, joy would have been unbridled no-matter the victors, just so long as it wasn’t England.

Even, and despite the ‘history’ being among the most widely documented and reviled events of the 20th century, in the game against Germany you probably struggled to pick a favourite.

Just because I happen to favour the England football team over just about anyone else (certainly never against Scotland), and have a particular penchant for them in the cricket, doesn’t make me right and you wrong; but the outpourings of sheer bile this past week directed against them, speak volumes about the direction our country has latterly taken.

We appear to have lost our sense of common decency, any sense at all of perspective, and have managed to harness a nasty form of prejudice that does the very opposite of suggesting that we are a grown-up, inclusive, intelligent, democracy ready for the ‘next step’.

I was appalled.

If your excuse was that ‘it’s not actually about the team itself, it’s all about the media bias’; then while I agree that it does get a tad obnoxious, surely folks with half a brain have the ability to discern?

Apparently not.

Even people who long to (indeed do) ‘rule over us’, basked in being ‘happy and glorious’ at the results of the penalty shoot-out.

If you hate England and the English then you are not yet fully evolved.

If you hate the English football team, particularly this England football team and their combined intelligence, inherent decency, and proactive railing against Boris Johnson and his chums; then you are actively going backwards.

If this is what’s considered symptomatic of nationalism or wanting to ‘be a nation again’, you can shove it.

This is not the Scotland I aspire to be a part of.

So what if we probably would never hear the end of it: at least it would have been something different and a damn sight more relevant than 1966.

Trust me, we could have coped.

We could have predicted the hooliganism that the English fans perpetrated against themselves, their national stadium, its stewards, and a paucity of policemen.

There was, indeed, a certainty that the minute the final whistle blew and the realisation was that their ‘favourites’ had lost, they would quickly shift from being (almost) national heroes back to some of them being just ‘darkies who don’t belong here’.

I make no apologies for my language.

When confronting the appalling racism which spilled out across many parts of England we need to be brutally blunt, brutally honest, brutally swift and just plain brutal.

Marcus Rashford mural in Manchester. Pic @ManUtd/Twitter

If we’re going to be serious about tackling this, then there needs to be action and there need to be sanctions, sackings and prison sentences.

If you were caught on camera launching beer bottles at Burger King or firing a flare out of your bare arse in the middle of Leicester Square, then you should have been either in jail or handed your P45 the very next morning.

If you were guilty of the horrible taunts, tweets and comments on social media and involved in the defacing of public posters and murals which extol the virtues of these fine young men, then you should be ostracised by the rest of society.

You are not fit to be a part of it.

Given the magnificent stances of several of the current crop of players, against racism and inequality (not just in sport), the entire country should have been 100 per cent behind them.

A product, largely, of an enlightened immigration policy (only three of the squad don’t have a parent or grandparent born ‘abroad’), they have used their fame, indeed their wealth, to attempt to combat injustice where they see it.

They are currently standing up against this viciously xenophobic government and its appallingly conflicted home secretary; questioning their ‘bandwagon’ political utterances and challenging them over being branded as merely engaging in ‘gesture politics’ when ‘taking the knee’.

If anyone thought that racism was something that had been gradually heading towards the history class, then the actions of a very large ‘minority’ of England football fans should make every one of us sit up and pay more attention.

If Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford have better held our government to account than Keir Starmer, then how is it not possible to stand by them and be sympathetic in their fight to be European Champions?

Luckily, here in Scotland, it’s not a crime at all to hate the English.

Not in the slightest bit racist.

Oh no. Have you found that mirror yet?

NORRIE T MACDONALD writes a column in the West Highland Free Press every Thursday