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Reply to Bill Bryson

In what I believe to be his latest book, the American-English writer Bill Bryson has some very harsh things to say about the Scots after he found out that many of them subscribe to the ABE attitude to football - Anyone But England. His ill-wishes result from a visit to a pub Aberfeldy when he found himself the only patron shouting for England and the Scots clientele applauding goals from whoever they were playing. The English only recently discovered ABE and have been very hurt to find out about it because most of them support the other British national teams if England does not make it into an international competition. However, I suspect that Bryson did not ask any of his fellow patrons in that Aberfeldy bar why they behaved the way they did. I don't know what answer he would have been given but here is one: The English Football Association killed off the oldest international football fixture in the world in 1989 because they said Scotland were so crap that they just were not worth playing on an annual basis. I would say that is reason enough for Scots to take a delight when the Football Association's team gets hammered. There was also the BBC's coverage of the old international when it did take place. The so-called national broadcaster served up a recipe of chauvinism, bias, English nationalism and arrogance in the guise of unbiased coverage of the game. The far more fair and balanced coverage of the Rugby Union Triple Crown suggests that the football commentators' approach was not inevitable. And this was from an organisation that claimed that its commitment impartiality meant it could not describe the Argentinians during the Falklands War in 1982 as "The Enemy". It is not great leap to transfer anger and frustration at the Home Counties Broadcasting Corporation to the football team it so lauds. ABE has deep roots and while it is unfortunate, unpleasant even, it is understandable amongst people who live north of the border.


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