I have nothing against Andy Murray. He is clearly a talented tennis player and I enjoy watching him, but I have to admit he doesn’t come across as a particularly likeable person on the court. Still anyone who can break the Nadal-Federer strangle hold and make tennis a bit more interesting than those two contesting every final gets my support.
But my support won’t be because he is British. Politicians have long spoilt any affiliation I might have had for the nations next door to my home of England. I will pick and choose my support for their various teams and individuals in the random way I do for all other countries of the world. How they play, general likeability and a bias towards the underdog. I enjoyed Scotland beating France in the Euro 2008 qualifiers, and Macedonia beating Scotland just a few days ago.
Problem is that the Britishness brigade, who are far more widespread than I can quite comprehend, seem to have picked up on Andy Murray as a new Norman Tebbit style cricket test. On the Wright Stuff, Matthew Wright refused to listen to an English caller who said he wouldn’t support Murray because of previous ‘anti-English’ comments and Lowri Turner was called a Little Englander.
Now I don’t begrudge Andy Murray supporting anyone but England at football, it’s a good fun local rivalry which we take part in by not giving a toss about the Scottish team. In fact a Scotsman who claimed to support England would arouse my suspicions. But if Murray says he will cheer on anyone but England, I think it is unreasonable to criticise those people in England who chose to support anyone but Murray.
The Little Britoners round on us Little Englanders saying we should support him because he is British. Ok, national allegiance has been brought into the game, and not by us. But once they say support should be dependent on national allegiance, the only argument is over where my national allegiance should lie? Who are they to tell me I am British and not merely English. Nationality defined through sporting interest, and with a definite idea from the questioners of the right answer. Sounds like the much maligned Cricket Test to me.
For the record Andy Murray has stated he considers himself both Scottish and British.
I am not Anti-Murray. But I am against British Nationalists who think they have some moral superiority over English (and to a lesser extent Scottish) Nationalists, when they only difference is where you choose your borders.