On Dual Heritage and Soccer Loyalty

I was catching up textually with a good friend of mine this morning, and he expressed his disappointment at the lack of action on the old blog in recent months. It’s just one of those things though isn’t it!?

I suppose it started when I was trying to get a script finished and it took up all my time. That’s about the only productive excuse I can come up with. I don’t think the Nintendo Wii can be blamed, or the TV or the less than intellectual novels. But never mind.

The longer one leaves these things, the harder it is to get back to doing them. But here I am, not saying anything particularly interesting but making the effort. I’ll talk about this now then…

The World Cup.

Saturday night was very interesting. England were playing USA in the World Cup of soccer football a sport which I love playing but have never been any good at and which I used to love following but haven’t for years.

The other factor is the question of what nationality I am. I am without a doubt British, but Welsh or English is a different question. Do I go by birthplace (England) or language, or family, or culture, or where I now live (Wales)?

My usual policy is to support both teams in whatever sport and whatever game they are playing, and in cricket the ‘England’ team is made up of English and Welsh players anyway. However, if Wales were to play England which happens almost never in football but at least once a year in rugby, I support Wales. Post-colonial underdog policy perhaps.

When I’m in England I’m the Welsh guy, when I’m in Wales I’m the English guy. There’s a couple of poems which we studied in English for GCSE and they describe accurately and vividly what it is to forget one’s language and for it to then come blooming back (Sujata Bhatt’s Search for my Tongue for example) or what it is not to feel at home anywhere in the world (Moniza Alvi’s Aunts in Pakistan). I get those feelings a lot.

Something very strange overtook me on Saturday night. Not only did my love for football suddenly take me over and paralyse me into not being able to concentrate on anything else other than the game at hand, but I was completely rooting for England, despite being with many (some not even Welsh speaking) Welsh people who wanted England to lose. I suppose what we do in our childhood sticks. The old squad probably consisted of such greats as Nicky Butt, David Batty, Andy Cole, Michael Owen, some bloke called David Beckham, David Seaman, Paul Scholes and Steve McManaman.

I had my first football sticker book in 1998 and had the whole of France and most of Holland, of course the way it goes was that I had hardly any England players. I later collected the next few Premier League sticker books, my favourite being the one with Dennis Bergkamp on the front, again I wanted Manchester United but ended up getting the whole of Liverpool (my brother’s team) and only one Man U – Jaap Stam (good player, boring guy). I found a blank album on the floor this year and was oh so tempted to start collecting this year, I restrained myself for economical reasons.

Anyway, the match was frustrating to watch as ever, but gripping stuff.

BTW…

What was that goalie thinking!?

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