England for the cup? Well kind of...

MUCH though I will be pleased if England win the World Cup (not to say surprised), the hype surrounding the tournament, which does not even start until Friday, is already becoming slightly tiresome.

I recognise, of course, that retailers need all the help they can get and, in the current economic climate, the opportunity to sell plastic St George’s flags and other cheap tat by the shed-load is not to be dismissed lightly.

On the other hand, it is hard to ignore the suspicion that most of the memorabilia on sale represents more of a boost for the manufacturers of China and other low-wage economies than for those of the UK.

So much for the need to rebalance the British economy towards wealth-generating exports and away from consumerism (although cheap tat does at least have the virtue of not requiring the purchaser to take out a loan first).

However, there are other reasons why my enthusiasm for the tournament is already wearing thin.


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For one thing, overt displays of English chauvinism ? flying St George’s flags from one’s car being a case in point ? tend to bring out the inner Celt that lurks within me.

Despite being English-born, of English-born parents, I am ? as you might just gather from my name ? one quarter Scottish in my genealogy.

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There is also a bit of Welsh in there too and ? still more problematical in respect of the World Cup as, unlike Scotland and Wales, they have qualified for the finals as well as England ? I happen to be a quarter French too.

My sense of national identity is, therefore, more than a shade equivocal and so while an England World Cup victory would undoubtedly be good for the economy (and for Chancellor George Osborne who could certainly do with something to lift the gloom likely to be caused in mid-tournament by his Budget on June 22) you probably won’t find me dancing in the street.

But perhaps a bigger reason still for my ambivalence (although it may be connected to the first) is that I am among the many football fans for whom support for one’s club comes a long way ahead of loyalty to one’s national team.

Since my club happens to be Liverpool, who have just had their worst season in years, this might also explain a certain disenchantment with the game in general ahead of the World Cup.

But come next season, through thick or thin, they will still have my undivided loyalty in a way the England team (even when captained by a Liverpool player) never will.

I wouldn’t go quite so far as to claim ? as one fellow Red once did ? that I would rather see Liverpool win a corner than England win the World Cup. But if we were talking about a corner kick...

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