Once more we face an international break, and the prospect of yet another glorious failure from the Scottish National Team.
Am I being fatalistic? Well, yes, but considering I had just started high school the last time Scotland qualified for a major tournament and I’m turning 37 next week, I think I have good reason to be.
For a large element of the Celtic support, it’s little more than an unwelcome distraction from club football. This season especially, given both the ongoing pandemic and the fact we are fighting for ten in a row, many feel the smart thing to do would have been to shelve international football for a year.
However, as is also the case with the likes of The Champions League and the Europa League, to FIFA and UEFA, money talks and to hell with health and safety!
As I write this, on the day of Scotland’s Euro 2020 one-off showdown with Serbia, my social media is awash with a mix of messages.
Many of those I follow are saying “No chance will I follow Scotland! The SFA are corrupt to the core and an enemy of Celtic!”
Ironically, quite a few Rangers supporters seem to have a similar view.
Others among the Celtic faithful online go to the opposite extreme. In a show of William Wallace style nationalist rhetoric, if you’re a Celtic supporter and don’t express devotion to Scotland you’re some kind of “traitor”, “heretic” or “sassenach sympathiser”.
Then there are people like me. I was born in Scotland but have spent most of my adult life living somewhere else.
I support Scottish Independence, but I no longer actively campaign for it, considering the significant issues of anti-Celtic and anti-Irish bigotry among elements of the Indy movement.
I love living in Japan, my partner is Japanese, and I’ve spent almost 15 years here learning the language and becoming acquainted with the people.
If Scotland played Japan tomorrow, I’d be genuinely conflicted as to who to support. My passport might say I’m British, but my personal sense of identity, my heart if you want to put it in more dramatic terms, lies somewhere between Scotland and Japan.
For many Celtic fans, there’s a similar historic and cultural pull towards Ireland.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you there’s anything wrong with that!
If you feel more Irish than Scottish, regardless of where you were born or grew up, then that’s who you are. No one else has the right to decide how you identify yourself.
I’ll have my Scotland top on tonight. I doubt I”ll see the game live given the time difference, but I might get up early for it. I hope the contingent of current and former Celts in the squad can beat the odds and lead us to our first major tournament in 22 years.
Maybe you don’t feel that way. Maybe you couldn’t care less what happens, and are only concerned that our players come back free from both injuries and Covid-19.
And that’s OK.
In much the same way as I frequently tell the fascist pseudo-patriots online to f**k off for demanding I wear a poppy every November, the same goes for all these Braveheart wannabes doing the rounds today.
We support whoever we like. As part of the Irish diaspora in Scotland, a group that continues to suffer from bigotry and prejudice across the country on a daily basis, we owe Scotland nothing.
By the same token, if you’re like me, and you see Scotland as a place that you feel part of, then enjoy the game tonight! I really hope we can upset the bookies and make it to the Euros.
Support Scotland or don’t, it’s up to you.
Live and let live.
Just remember, first and foremost: we are Celtic supporters! faithful through and through!