On Being A Scotland Supporter in the World Cup

I wrote this during the electric summer of 2018. People were going wild for England, and its success during the World Cup, and how couldn’t let myself be a part of it.

To be a Scotland supporter during the World Cup is to be a villain, a necessary one; we push the story along, assuming the role of pantomime baddie. We rain on the parade. We’re grumpy, and we like it. Firstly, our experience is marred by never being there. Face it, we are shit at football.

My life has been free of Scotland being a participant in any major international football tournament (soothed a bit by our recent, relative success in rugby).It doesn’t really bother me in all honesty. However, the World Cup sweeps us all up into its mayhem. And as said before, Scotland supporters supply a purpose. It is sibling rivalry, if you like.

I spectated England fans spectating the Colombia versus England match. It was a heated atmosphere, a day marked by the lack of air conditioning. Joining them for the penalty shootout; the kaleidoscope of screams, hands on heads and shallow breaths. There was a sense of unification in the danger. I was pricked by jealousy. I wanted to be a part of it: a table with people who all felt the same, unified by the tornado of terror. The last kick was taken; the little deli burst at the seams.

My pity party continued, until I remembered something. To cheer for England would be wrong; it might seem petty not to, but it would be wrong. These people were being true to themselves. This was their team, their narrative, their joy. 

Realising this, I recalled how important my connections to Scotland are, however as some say, even tenuous, to me. My father is a member of the Scottish diaspora in Bermuda: a group founded by 1950s immigrants in search of a warmer life. Culture was maintained by each other’s company as they cashed in the tropical ticket to what their birth lottery never gave them. Their winnings: public school education for their children, positions in world commerce and Sunday afternoons on pink beaches.

But it removed them from their home. There are societal similarities between the two places–  mainly a dependency on alcohol for a good time. But, ultimately, parallels are few. Upheaval from one’s homeland will have an impact on the later generations. I am the later generations. At eleven, I was planted back on Scottish soil. My independence sprouted there. I have my roots there.

Supporting Scotland is summed up by my dad: “It is that glimmer of hope. It’s the feeling that you might actually win. It probably won’t happen, but it could. You are united by this feeling.”

This disconnection from Scotland lingers in me. It’s no epic tragedy but it leaves me a lost soul. My origins are not simple, nor are they heartbreaking. However, denying the importance of ones’ national story is foolish. Naively, we disregard it as xenophobic, trivial even. Although, once without one, it becomes something to be desired. I know I am Scottish; with my affinity for rain, the pinkish hue to my skin and my training in using curse words as terms of endearment. What else can I be?

Also, it must be said, England fans are so desperately, and unbelievably tedious with their declarations of “But, yeah, WE WON THE WAR” whenever defeated by Germany. I hold grudges for the same reasons people love Gareth Southgate, because I’m supposed too.

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