Saturday, 19 June 2010

Rivalry v. Bitterness.

I'm currently writing a new blog post but I've not had much time lately so it'll be a day or so before I get it uploaded. For now, here's a quick wee rant... :)

At the time of writing, it is now half time in the Cameroon v Denmark Group E World Cup encounter. Its a decent match so far; in the past couple of days the matches have been much better viewing than at the beginning of the tournament. That is, with the exception of last night's England/Algeria goalless stalemate.

With 2 points from as many games, I must admit I enjoy seeing England flounder. I made it very vocal before the tournament that I thought England only had as much chance in this World Cup as the likes of Mexico, Uruguay, Chile, or the stronger African teams - Ghana or Ivory Coast. I admit it is possible, just as it was possible for Greece to win the Euro's in 2004, but I think they're a huge outside chance (as opposed to a ridiculous outside chance such as North Korea or Algeria). For a start, their qualification was over-hyped. They by no means had any challenging opposition; the aforementioned teams such as Greece, Mexico, Uruguay etc., would easily have topped that group in place of England. Also, notice the manager was one of the greatest in the world pre-tournament but now the recent results were his fault and not that of the over-hyped team. So yes, ultimately I am enjoying England's demise.

However, what this rant is really about is a particular tweet I read from a fellow Ulsterman. He indicated that he will not be joining in on the "bitterness" against England and so he will be supporting them in this World Cup. By all means, he has every right to support whomever he wants to. However, that I do not wish to see England succeed is absolutely nothing to do with bitterness - it is RIVALRY. Just as the Scottish share a rivalry with England, so do the Irish. The same as Man Utd share a rivalry with Liverpool. It is not political, it has nothing to do with hatred or anything of the like. It is plain and simple rivalry. Can you imagine explaining to Liverpool fans that they should stop being so bitter and support Man Utd in the Champions League final (or vice versa)?

Not that I'm above "bitterness". I freely admit I feel very bitter over the French and Thierry Henry's hand of God moment. I am enjoying watching them flounder every bit as much, if not more than, with England. However, this was only born recently, and I remember cheering them on in the last World Cup final.

The situation with England is entirely different. It comes down to a long standing rivalry. If there really was such a "bitterness", neither the club I support (Liverpool) nor my favourite player (Gerrard, England's 2010 World Cup captain) would be English. Moreover, the lack of "bitterness" allows us to, while not supporting the England team, support the English bid for the World Cup 2018.

Rivalry adds to the spirit of the game, and to the experience watching a match.

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