Come on the Brirish!

Kevin Myers last week, just before the Republic’s decider against Switzerland made some suggestions as to how the national question might be fixed in football. Have two teams, one for the UK, the other Irish, and let players and supporters follow their own passions.

Though he first questions just how Irish the Irish are these days:

…it seems as if the English Premiership has corrupted very many players from what we might call the British working classes, for the truth is that the working-class estates of Dublin in many ways are culturally more British than “Irish”. Pub televisions are rarely tuned to RTÉ, and Irish music is hardly played, unless it is in the Anglo-American idiom. A French or German visitor would have trouble spotting the differences between some areas of Dublin and those of Preston, Blackburn or Newcastle, either in architecture, alcoholic consumption, sexual habits, diet, gang-traditions, music, high illiteracy and low educational aspirations.

And of the Republic’s most successful period:

We told ourselves lies when we said they were Irish. They weren’t. They were British-Irish: Brirish. Ray Houghton was as Irish as Aberdeen; Tony Galvin hadn’t a clue he had Irish ancestry until some FAI official went sleuthing into the genealogy of English players with Irish surnames. It didn’t matter. Under the English management of Jack Charlton and the quintessential British army sergeant-major, Maurice Setters, they bonded as men and played as men, with traditional Brirish qualities of doughtiness, courage, loyalty, oh yes, and heart, all within green shirts. And by God, those green shirts meant something to the hearts beating within them back then.

And finally:

The truth is that the quality of native soccer players from the Brirish Archipelago does not justify such huge over-representation in international soccer competitions. There should simply be one United Kingdom team, and one Irish team, and of course under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, players from the island of Ireland could declare for either, to engage in whatever form of witless clodhopping the two outfits would presumably

  • jaffa

    “the truth is that the working-class estates of Dublin in many ways are culturally more British than “Irish”. Pub televisions are rarely tuned to RTÉ, and Irish music is hardly played, unless it is in the Anglo-American idiom.”

    the same is true in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. The Angles and the Gaels have always been more blended than maps or politicians would allow as shown in language and looks. In Scandinavia it’s increasingly hard to avoid Irish bars showing British premiership football and playing American music (not that I really try to).

    “We told ourselves lies when we said they were Irish. They weren’t. They were British-Irish: Brirish.”

    Equally we tell ourselves lies when we say we’re pure “Irish”. 613 Adams’ signed the ulster covenant so the blending goes the other way too. At the last census 840,000 English people claimed to have been born in Ireland, 5.5 million had a mum or dad born in Ireland and only God knows how many had at least two Irish grandparents. My own mother is of english working class catholic stock and descends from western irish migrants who moved to england’s north in the 1840’s.

    “The truth is that the quality of native soccer players from the Brirish Archipelago does not justify such huge over-representation in international soccer competitions.”

    Most of the world’s states have populations smaller than Ireland’s, Scotland’s or even Wales’ for that matter. Are we to get into some sort of population race to compete with the Chinese and Indians? If so the world cup will look more like the six nations (six continents?).

  • Ringo

    Mick

    Can’t believe you left out the bit about watching NI and the hermit! In particular it goes against the grain of most people in the north’s opinion of Myer’s pieces.

  • Fraggle

  • Scotsman

    The world’s oldest international football fixture was between Scotland and England. Why does Mr. Myers feel that the Scots should not continue to have their own team?

    His United Ireland team would have fewer than 6 million residents to choose from, why not just join up with the Brits? Personally, if Scotland were to lose its football team, I’d rather team up with Brazil, wouldn’t you?

  • Baluba

    Ban soccer!

    Blandest game after lawn bowls…

  • maca

    Scotsman
    “Why does Mr. Myers feel that the Scots should not continue to have their own team?”

    The point he was making was that you have 4 teams in the UK, and 1 would be better because “the quality of native soccer players … does not justify such huge over-representation…”

    I don’t necessarily agree, but why is there 4 teams, is it simply an issue of “national” identity or ..?