As fans party like it's 1999, surely it's time this auld fixture became an annual event (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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As Scotland and England fans party like it's 1999, surely it's time this auld fixture became an annual event
The washing-up liquid overkill made sure that Trafalgar Square’s fountains had never looked so clean.
And from all the cavorting in the water, we finally found an answer to the age-old question of what is under a Scotsman’s kilt. Why it’s cold jets and bubbles – lots and lots of them – of course.
As the spray doused the parts that others cannot reach, the Tartan army revelled in their long-overdue day trip to London. Not a moment too soon, the oldest international rivalry of them all was back on the football calendar.
Wednesday was the 111th meeting between the traditional foes but they have become less familiar down the years. It was 1999 when the fountain last got its “spring clean” from north of the border.
’Elf and safety, fixture tsars, TV producers, whoever was responsible for the long wait between games should be ashamed. As someone who can take or leave international football – and I imagine I’m far from alone in that – it’s the one contest guaranteed to stir the blood.
Who cares if it was only a friendly? When Scotland rumble into town, that is never the case.
And who says you learn nothing from these supposed warm-up matches?
Wembley’s showdown confirmed several things. The first and most obvious was that anyone who seriously thinks England will trouble the later rounds in Brazil – providing they qualify first – has a home in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
This current team is simply not very good, end of. Yes, they have some good players and Jack Wilshere once again demonstrated that if you can keep him fit for more than a week or two then we do possess one genuinely top-class performer.
But Wayne Rooney still flatters to deceive in national colours, even after all these years, Theo Walcott continues to exasperate and Joe Hart is nowhere near the “world-class” keeper that the pundits gush about in the Premier League.
And while Ricky Lambert’s memorable arrival on the big stage provided easy pickings for the headline writers, he is certainly not the answer long term. I’m not even sure he’ll finish the season with Southampton, let alone England.
But then, Scotland are no great shakes either. A shock win in Croatia aside, they have been despatched by pretty much all and sundry of late.
The fact that the game itself was a cracker was down to the intense rivalry that pumps the adrenaline of those in the dark blue. And also the realisation that it was a battle of shared mediocrity.
In club terms, and we all like to bring it back to the real domestic stuff, this was Newcastle versus Sunderland rather than the Manchester derby. A frenetic, passionate derby but clearly a level below the top teams.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It made for far more compelling watching than a kickabout with the likes of Slovenia or Peru.
Premier League managers may have been watching through their fingers at times as the tackles flew in. But at least this was a meaningful encounter, which left no doubt that every player involved was desperate to win.
So why can’t we make it an annual fixture again?
The days of the home international championship may have sadly disappeared with spangles, flared jeans and space hoppers. But that is no excuse not to resurrect the auld enemy’s reunion.
One year at Wembley, the next at Hampden – the fans would lap it up. Not to mention the TV broadcasters; even the eternally miserable Adrian Chiles threatened to crack a smile.
The players themselves would surely jump at the chance to fight for local supremacy once a year, rather than trail halfway across Europe on a cash-generating jaunt or hosting a bunch of disinterested South Americans.
It’s a no brainer; a surefire winner. That’s probably why it will never happen.
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