Monday, January 10, 2011

I don't know whether it's just from being an exile now and perhaps being out of the loop at times, but today's announcement that the Home Internationals may be back on the fixtures calendar from 2013 caught me pleasantly by surprise.

Whether there is much substance to the initial murmurs awaits to be seen of course, but the stars may be aligning to make this happen.

With the Nations Cup featuring Scotland, Wales and both Irelands due to commence in Dublin next month, the appetite for more matches between the home nations is bound to be rekindled and whether we like it or not, all the countries need England to take part to make it a real success and a real mouthwatering proposition.

Sure we want Scotland to win every match they play. Sure it's fun to see us get one up on our Celtic neighbours, but there's no feeling in the world like fucking over the English and I'm sure my Welsh and Irish friends would agree with me fully.

The Nations Cup is a mere distraction. Glorified friendlies really. The return of the Home Internationals, epsecially at the end of the season, would be the real deal however.

It's a shame that there's a whole generation out there who have no idea what we're talking about of course. I grew up loving May. The games, the rivalries and sitting down watching the games on the TV with the family.

The original Home Internationals died out for a multitude of reasons. Some countries, and I'm ashamed to say that Scotland were one of them, started to field weaker teams, thus chipping away at the importance of it all. Others, yes you England, had grander ideas and wanted bigger and more glamourous games against the likes of Brazil and Argentina (hence the horrible Rous Cup that existed after Scotland and England decided to ditch the others).

You then had the clash with the more important preparations for World Cups and European Championships. Remember, this was an age where Scotland qualified for such things. I know, I know, it's hard to believe. The complaints about too many games and the threat of hooliganism also cooled the tournaments jets.

Fans have clamoured for a return for years. It's always been the English FA that's seemed to be the most against it, but their stance does seem to be softening now. I'm sure the thought of sold out Wembley games is an appetising prospect to an organisation that's spent a lot of money on a losing World Cup bid.

The initial idea about the return of the tournaments is suggesting a Rugby Six Nations style of alternating home advantage. That's how it's being spun but that's how I remember it being anyway.

I was too young to go to the games the first time around. I was at Hampden for the first leg of the Euro 2000 playoff against England in 1999. That was one hell of an amazing atmosphere. If we can recapture that every season then all the FA's would be foolish not to go for it. I know I'd certainly be tempted to fly back for some of them.

All we can hope for in the meantime is that this comes to fruition and that if it does that the governing bodies and clubs treat it with the respect it deserves. Of course, we all know that that is perhaps just a little bit too much to ask for.

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