There were celebrations in bars around Dublin this evening as Harry Kane’s penalty kick flew high over the French goal. The cheers at the final whistle were loud.
This evening’s World Cup quarter=final result recalled and apocryphal story I heard some twenty years ago.
According to the story, there was a man from Cork who was coming out of Twickenham Stadium looking delighted because England had been beaten by France.
The man is spotted by a BBC reporter, and is asked whether he would support any team, whoever they were, against England.
The Corkman is definite in his response, he said he would.
‘Well’, says the BBC reporter, ‘can you think of any circumstances at all where you would support England?’
The Corkman scratched his head and, after a few moments of reflection, said, ‘Well, I suppose if they were playing Tipperary’.
The story is hardly an exaggeration.
Prior to attending Ireland’s match against Australia at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium last month, a friend and I went to neraby pub to watch the closing stages of the match at Twickenham between England and the All Blacks.
Ireland recorded their first ever series win against the All Blacks in New Zealand during the summer, and there was a suspicion that the present New Zealand side might not be as strong as their predecessors.
When we arrived at the pub, the All Blacks were winning 25-6 and there were barely more than ten minutes of the match left. Weakened by the sin binning of one of their prominent backs, New Zealand were on the back foot. England ran in three tries in the closing eight minutes.
Each England score was greeted by jeers from the crowd that crammed into the pub. Not one person seemed prepared to that a great deal of speed, strength and skill contributed to the 25-25 final score. The final whistle prompted a further burst of jeers and catcalls.
A Manchester United supporting friend used to complain of people he called ‘ABUs’, ‘Anyone But United’. It was he who introduced me to the term ‘ABE’, Anyone But England.
It is an attitude that has its roots in the persistent attitude of condescension towards Ireland which is found among some English people. Wilfully ignore other people’s history, treat them as though they are inferior, and assume one’s own ideas are shared by everyone, and it is not long before a pool of resentment builds up – and people cheer for the opposition.