…their wee bit hill and glen

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After the humiliation of a rugby World Cup defeat against Argentina, last night’s superb win by Scotland at the Parc des Princes in the European Championships deepened the sense of national catastrophe in France, leaving le coq crowing a fair bit less proudly.

A Scot who willed England to victory in anything would be regarded by many of his countrymen as mad or beneath contempt, or both.

Scots could retort that the perfidious English way is to cheer on Scotland, Wales and even the Irish, claiming any unexpected success as one for Britain or, in the case of Ireland and how they hate this, the British Isles.

The Frenchness of the family I married into leads me to support France quite often. I was delighted when they won the 1998 World Cup with that sensational un-deux-trois-zéro tonking of Brazil. Even Zidane’s act of stupidity failed to make me pleased that Italy beat France in the final of the same competition last year.

But last night, as when I watched Ireland at the Stade de France in a World Cup qualifier two years ago, I was rooting for the opposition: on this occasion Scotland. Craig Gordon was one very good reason for doing so, but he was not the only one.

As I have mentioned here and elsewhere, I am notoriously anti-internationals. As is the norm, I was perfectly happy to see that England beat Russian 3-0, but am a trillion times more concerned about SAFC v Reading this Saturday.

Last night, French TV naturally showed their own match, not England’s.

It was a dogged and occasionally inspired performance by the Scots, urged on by a raucous support that had outsung the home fans when the anthems were played and then given further impassioned renditions of Flower of Scotland at intervals during the game.

And our Craig played a blinder, pulling off two or three glorious saves and generally commanding his area with confidence and style.

McFadden’s strike may have had a touch of hit and hope about it but rocketed spectacularly into the French net.

When the final whistle went, it was almost like watching Sunderland clinchng a win in similarly important circumstances. Maybe thoughts of Ian Porterfield had been a subconscious factor in my happiness at the Scottish victory, but happy I most certainly was.

There must have been some party on the streets of Paris into today’s small hours. How the French took this, and whether the setback left them feeling quite as attached as usual to the Auld Alliance, may be another matter.

* Related links
French football blog, if your Francais is up to it!

Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

2 Responses to “…their wee bit hill and glen” Subscribe

  1. John Penman September 14, 2007 at 11:10 am #

    The magnitude of this result is the subject of great debate up here.Many have the opinion that it is the best ever.There is little doubt that what was achieved was almost unbelievable when you consider the state we were in under Vogts only a matter of 3 years ago.
    I would have gladly bitten the hand off anyone who offered me a point before the game as I believed that the only way to achieve this would need an outstanding performance from Scotland coupled with the French having an off night.Both materialised and we top the so called ‘group of death’ with 3 games to go.
    The look on the faces of the French players after we scored was fantastic.With gallant defending and the one of the best keepers in Europe I always felt reasonably comfortable.Even if we don’t qualify , which I still fear may happen, there is little doubt that we are once again heading in the right direction in a football sense.
    I made rather sweeping statement after we failed to qualify for Euro 2000 that I may never see my country qualify for a major finals in my lifetime.I had up to 18 months ago no reason to question myself but now I just may be proved wrong.
    As the last minute of injury time was entered I turned to my wife and stated ‘well I think we should get a point at worst now, can’t see then scoring twice now’.The fact that the French never looked likely to score in the previous 92 minutes still didn’t mask the fear I had for a Scottish capitulation.

  2. Matt Forrest September 24, 2007 at 9:07 am #

    I couldn’t agree more that the Sunderland fans’ experience mirrors the Scotland one. Whether it’s abject failure or glorious victory, there is a similar sense of elation or stoicism that is not to be found in England supporters.
    Great, no, truly remarkable nights like the one in Paris on the 13th remind me of similar SAFC feats – ’73 and all that. And when it’s bad, it’s very, very bad. Every Scotland and Sunderland fan, of which I am both, can reel off the miseries. But for now, who cares about the bad times…

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