What lies behind such a comment of course, is the nationalist inability to understand how someone can be proud of a perceived identity without seeking for it a separate political status. In this case, how can someone be simultaneously a proud Scot, cheering on his football team and yet disagree with the imperative of Scotland leaving the United Kingdom?
Another exchange demonstrates the mindset further. A Northern Ireland supporter hints that part of the vocal banter at the match might include a traditional GAWA stable, ‘you’re just a small part of [insert adjacent country]’, in this case England. It makes no sense respond some Scotland supporters, you should sing ‘you’re just a small part of Britain’, that would hurt more; we’ll sing ‘you’re just a small part of Ireland’ to you. Of course singing ‘you’re just a small part of Ireland’ to Northern Ireland supporters is merely stating the obvious and would outrage or amuse no-one. And given that Scotland is inescapably part of Britain; our supporters might discern little humour in chanting the former either.
The torrent of abuse which ensues on this thread toward the English or is inspired by the word ‘Britain’, and by extension the opprobrium heaped on Northern Ireland supporters because we are perceived as approving of ‘Britishness’, reminded me of a comment by Billy Connolly flagged up by Scottish Unionist recently.
“It's entirely their fault [the SNP], this new racism in Scotland, this anti-Englishness. It was a music-hall joke before - you know, like Yorkshire v Lancashire or Glasgow v Edinburgh. But there's a viciousness to it now that I really loathe and it is their fault entirely.”
I suspect that what Connolly is referring to is evident in the rhetoric being casually knocked around on this football forum. Scotland football supporters have always ‘hated’ the England team, to varying degrees. That’s what football supporters do. Whether they were unionists by conviction did not matter one jot. Northern Ireland supporters are something similar. ‘We hate England more than you’ rang out from the GAWA when we played Wales in 2005. But sporting pride and rivalry is being politicised by forces of nationalism, in the same fashion that nationalism attempts to monopolise all manifestations of its chosen cultural identity.
Hopefully unionists in Scotland will resist the intolerant attitude of their nationalist counterparts and continue to proudly roar on their team. Pride in our respective parts of the United Kingdom and rivalry between them should not diminish in any way our commitment to the whole.