The wee nations of these islands show the way in Europe

It was a big week in Europe in more ways than one. Wales is left as the standard bearer of the home nations in the Euros. Northern Ireland and the Republic get honourable mentions  in the reputation stakes not only on the field but on the terraces and the pubs.  The Somme commemorations recall Britain’s very literal continuing place in Europe (There is a corner of a foreign field etc.”) Modern Ireland is recovering its own memory.

In the horrible week of Brexit, the idea of Europe is very much alive.The wee nations that have kept Britain’s end up in Europe in the worst ever week for European solidarity since September 1939. This is a Europe of knock out rivals   in an analogy of war, but playing it in a atmosphere of general peace after a shaky start.

In football we are four (five as the Republic counts as a “home nation”). Would a united British team or an all-Ireland squad fare better together than competing separately? Probably not. The lesson for the Euros is that provided the available talent reaches critical mass, it’s the teamwork that counts. Is there a lesson here for post Brexit. Better together or better apart?

The evidence of Better together will come if the English (remember them?) identify with Wales’ success. I see no evidence so far either way.  More than understandably the Welsh are rubbing it in to the humiliated English  as the Times reported (£)

This team of Welsh legends have been brought through the English leagues. Who can bleat about players being too fatigued when Wales were so full of running? All British, eh? How the Welsh would rightly laugh at that, and did so last night, their ecstatic fans singing mocking songs about England in Lille as this wonderful collective of players pulled off a brilliant and deserved triumph to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals. They did not just beat Belgium; they were better than a side of many talents.

Football patriotism  is a very different thing to the political  variety. but right now, it’s the best we’ve got.

Meanwhile, my take on the first week of Brexit in an Irish Times special section.



, , , , , , , ,

  • ted hagan

    At the moment France and the organisers must be praying it’s not Wales versus Iceland final/

  • smcgiff

    That critical mass can be as low as 330k – ask the English.

  • hgreen

    I can see why France wouldn’t like it but why would the organisers not want a Wales Iceland final?

  • mac tire

    One of those might not only reach the final but could even win it, if we follow the ’12 year’ rule: 1992 – Denmark, 2004 – Greece, 2016 – Wales/Iceland? 🙂

  • terence patrick hewett

    Ireland is becoming increasingly isolated by EU ‘big boys’

    As the man said: “there may be trouble ahead.”

  • ronan12345

    I’m not sure it has to do with critical mass, rather critical mis-management. Compare England’s record at major tournaments with Italy or Germany. Their critical mass counts in their favour. Additionally, to put the cat among the pigeons, home nations of what? The Commonwealth? Er, I’m not sure I agree with you that Ireland counts in this respect. Certainly not for football, arguably it does for rugby. Although I find the term a little anachronistic.

  • Zig70

    The whole Brexit remain camp was a bit like the just say no drugs campaign. Anyone with any social intelligence knew that a lot of it was hype. You could argue that cannabis does less damage than alcohol. Life outside the EU will have rough edges but little effect. Ireland just has no balls, part of the reason why the country is still partly held by it’s aggressive neighbour. It held a lot of power when the banks fell and rolled over. The old adage that if you owe the bank a pound it is your problem but if you owe them thousands it is theirs.

  • Chingford Man

    “In the horrible week of Brexit, the idea of Europe is very much alive.”

    Or the glorious week where more people voted to leave the EU (not Europe) than had ever voted for any UK political party. Time Walker stopped being a bad loser.

  • Declan Doyle

    The English have never taken kindly to bullying tactics and unlike the Irish are unlikely to roll over because Europe is having a hiss fit. Brexit is good for England, Good for Ireland and good for Europe.

  • ted hagan

    Turns it into a Mickey Mouse tournament I’m afraid.

  • LiamÓhÉ

    I think this website has also become a bit of an echo chamber, inevitable in a small country. Brexit is good for England and for Norn Ireland in the same way lard is better than olive oil, and morris minors better than teslas.

  • Abucs

    The English run football as a business and the development of English players is not a priority. It has been showing or at least 40 years.