This time next year, we’ll be in the final stages of the inaugaral “Four Associations” tournament in Dublin. This competition, announced in March 2009, will see Northern Ireland, the Republic, Scotland, and Wales compete in a round-robin format where the winner will… well, nothing really. There doesn’t seem much point to the whole thing.
I’m not quite sure where the original idea came from, nor how it got to the stage of actually going to happen. I remember Craig Brown floated the suggestion of playing England annually, or at least bi-annually, back in 1999 when we played Keegan’s team in the Euro 2000 playoff. Having been at Hampden the last time we played them in the Rous Cup (2-0 defeat) I thought this was a bad idea even before that ginger bastard Scholes stuck another two past us at home, allowing those cockney wankers to give it justifiable laldy with “Where’s your famous Hampden Roar?”
More recently, the idea to resuscitate the old Home International tournament (Scotland, England, Wales, Norn Ireland) was brought up when all four teams failed to qualify for Euro 2008. Gordon Brown jumped on the bandwagon, ensuring the idea never had a chance, even if adding the Republic was intended to make it more sexy (though I’m not sure how, as “sexy” is not an adjective applied to much coming out of Ireland, never mind the football). There was even a facebook group set up, with the requisite grammatical errors in its title (Lets have a Football Five Nations Next Summer). 43 out of Facebook’s 400 million users have signed up to date. That’s around one in ten million, or 0.00001% of the world’s largest social network.
Anyway, four of those 43 appear to have been the chairmen of the FAW, FAI, SFA, and the IFA because representatives of the four associations’ teams will play each other in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, in February and May next year.
And by the way: The Aviva Stadium – are there any other countries out there which have sold the naming rights to their national stadium? Isn’t that completely embarrassing? It’s one thing for a grasping club chairman to take the corporate shilling, but for the leadership of a country’s football association? Very poor. And while the stadium looks nice and shiny, it seems to be missing half a stand. And what the hell is an Aviva anyway? I thought it was a phone company until someone told me it’s the new name for the insurance company Norwich Union. Which has feck-all to do with Ireland, surely?
Anyway, it seems that at least for one year we are stuck with this pointless tournament against teams we don’t even like playing. Pumpings by Wales have put paid to two of our less successful recent managers, while facing Northern Ireland guarantees an evening of God Save The Queen and Rule Britannia. Where’s the fun in that?
I propose something different.
My first choice would be to qualify for every World Cup and European Championship, so we’d have no need for these Mickey Mouse tournaments.
But if that Disney happen (boom, boom!) then Scotland should bring back the Rous Cup – but instead of inviting England and a sexy South American team, we should hold it in World Cup/European Championship years when we don’t qualify, and invite two teams who didn’t make it either but who will bring decent fans over to Glasgow for a week-long footballing fiesta. By ‘decent fans’ I of course mean either a good drinking/partying crowd (Sweden, Norway, Holland) or top-quality totty who would get fired into the single members of the Tartan Army (Sweden, Norway, Thailand).
While the games would be pointless and the football might not be the best, with this latter approach we’d at least be able to get aroused for the Rous Cup.
I’ll get me coat.
Scotland v Sweden 1990
Photo Credit: Blitz Corner