Belfast Telegraph

No friendly fire in Glasgow as war moves to Merseyside

By Billy Weir

As we speak, troops from the bitterest of enemies from both sides of the border are believed to be assembling in numbers not seen since the days of Bannockburn or Culloden. They are believed to be massing in the Merseyside area and reporters at the scene say Scouse/Scottish tensions have not been so high since Nerys Hughes appeared in an episode of The Liver Birds in a tartan mini-skirt.

Yes, things may have gone off with a bit of a whimper on the pitch at Celtic Park, but it was off it after the final whistle that the real resumption of centuries of mutual resentment and hatred were reborn with verbal claymores being swung and riposted by Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher.

And while Hadrian's Wall may have separated the two old enemies of Scotland and England, all that stood between Souness and Carragher on Sky Sports was Jamie Redknapp, slightly less forwardly mobile than a wall but a lovely wall nonetheless.

Many a Scottish row has started because of a precocious Wayne running amok and so it proved again as two-goal hero Rooney started a heated debate the likes of which haven't been seen in Caledonian quarters for, well, a couple of months, since the referendum.

The English started it (well, they would) as the united forces of Jamie waxed lyrical about King Wayne after he'd sent the tartan-clad warriors homewards to think again, discussing his place in the pantheon of the football gods.

Souness sat quietly. You sensed this was a bad sign. It was.

"I wouldn't get carried away with Wayne Rooney scoring. He's scoring goals against Championship players," he said, and then pointing out exactly what the two Jamies had said - that Roo was a great England player but not a world great.

"Ronaldo and Messi are on different planets," said Souness, moving the goalposts inter-galactically just to confuse things further but then tried to smooth things over.

"This is not me sitting with a bitter Scottish head on because we lost tonight," added Souness, sitting with a bitter Scottish head on him because they'd lost.

"I think Wayne Rooney is a very good footballer and would get into every Premier League team, but is he up there with the greatest in the world? I don't think so."

And on and on it went, Alex Salmond and Alastair Darling being ushered into the studio as they'd heard there was a fight and wanted to take part, but things were much nicer between the auld enemies over on ITV.

That was mainly because they had plumped for Bonnie Prince Ally McCoist rather than Graeme the Brusque and with the programme presented by Hadrian Chiles, there was always going to be a natural buffer ensuring that no interesting debate of any kind would be allowed to break out.

The wall was used to good effect though, the ad breaks filled with two lads, one in a Scotland kit and one in an England one, hitting the ball over it and wishing that Hadrian had built a kerb so they could play a decent game.

Hostilities were muted early doors, Roy Hodgson running a gauntlet of mild disenchantment as he got off the bus.

"It would be a pleasure to get a welcome like that at Celtic Park," joked McCoist, and he couldn't be poked with an English sword, no matter what Chiles did.

"Scotland have no superstars," he began. Well, certainly they have no Rickie Lamberts to call upon, but they do have Chris Martin, but his play really left all Scots feeling a little cold.

Bonnie Prince Charlie's raiding forces may have gotten as far as Derby, but all Gordon Strachan got to bring back was a big lump of a forward and some Teach Yourself A Derbyshire Accent tapes from Steve McLaren.

Formations are always a big talking point and with Glenn Hoddle around it was natural to ask him his opinion.

"Is it a diamond or not a diamond?" enquired Chiles as we all recoiled in horror in case Chris Waddle appeared and we got a brief blast of Diamond Lights. I'd rather listen to Chris Martin. The Derby one.

But if it's footballing insight you want, then Strachan is the man, the Scottish manager asked for his thoughts on what might happen by reporter Gabriel Clarke.

"Both sides will try and play football and the other team will try and stop them," he said as Anglo-Scottish relations took a turn for the worse.

Commentator Clive Tyldesley picked up on this, saying he hadn't 'seen too many 'Better Together' T-shirts' and the Scottish boos culture was shown yet again when God Save The Queen was given a warm welcome.

It seemed to shake Clive.

"Wilshere's angled it in towards Wayne Roooooooneyyyyyy," he said, in unbiased fashion, as the first goal was headed in, not by England/the world's/all planets discovered or yet to be discovered greatest player, but by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Or was it Kieran Gibbs?

It got better for him, Roooooooneyyyyyy completing his non hat-trick with two goals in the second half to complete the win and as Tyldesley commented, 'this has been a sobering experience for every Scot.' I doubt that very much.

"We were looking forward to a night out in Glasgow, I'm not sure I am anymore," concluded Chiles, but probably safer than in Liverpool where hostilities are continuing.

Belfast Telegraph


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