Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.Until the arrival of Kuwaiti money the best title for a football book ever was Colin Shindler’s autobiography Manchester United Ruined My Life. That title alone explained what it was like to be a Manchester City fan when Manchester united were seemingly winning everything and their local rivals were forever struggling.
Crucially even in the rare occasions Manchester City did well. United seemed to find a way to top it by doing something just that little bit better.
Analogies can be taken so far. But I suspect that’s the position Welsh football fans feel like at the moment.
Outside of Wales the ABE (Anyone But England) reaction to England’s World cup success is taken as jealously. Taken as a whole I’d argue this isn’t the case. For most Welsh football fans England is the team you love to hate in the same way Manchester City fans love to beat United. Having a main “bad guy” is part of being a sports fan. If you are not in a tournament then you support the team your biggest rival is facing. Simple as. As an Englishman I get this and have no problem with it.
There is though an anger (as I’ve explained before) at the expectation Welsh football fans should support England. The example of the BBC Radio Wales phone-in asking “Are We All English Now”. Or the Principality stadium speculating on the English team for a game (note the Principality stadium) or as I’ve seen this morning a Twitter ad from Budweiser offering a free drink to celebrate England’s success â€¦..in England and Wales only. This sublimation of Wales’ own aspirations is something happily foisted upon this nation unlike Scotland.
And of course let’s not forget Secretary State for Wales and walking doormat Alun Chucky Cairns happily letting the cross of Saint George fly over the Welsh office in London. Though let’s face it who was surprised Chucky didn’t argue about that?
What we have also seen is a preview of attitudes by some English people post Brexit. I’ve written before how Welsh people should prepare to be treated by some English Brexiteers in a condescending master serf like manner that they would not try on anyone else. This has also raised anger here.
Most of all though there is a certain sense of wistfulness that the magnificent achievement that Wales, smaller in the pool of player resources it could count upon than it’s larger neighbour, was able to reach the semi finals of Euro 2016 seems now to have been a long time ago. During that time when companies tried to do England team promotions in Wales, were called out and shamefacedly withdrew them. When Wales became Wales far more than any six nations would allow. When it acted independently from anyone else. When for a short time. It seemed free.
Now that England have reached the semi finals of the World Cup Euro 2016 seems an irrelevance to English fans now. As it should be.
So what can Wales do to return to those heady 2016 moments? Well more knowledgeable football minds than me could do a better job on that issue. Starting with my wife who says the Welsh women could start the upturn qualifying for their World Cup by beating their opponents in the last qualifying match next month.
Their opponents are England.
Better keep my mouth shut on that.
Until the next time.