Club versus country: time to choose?

sol1Club versus country. Who wins for you and why? That’s the question – the other question, if Mr Eduardo and his sensitive supporters will permit one last mention – that Salut! Sunderland poses each week during the season to the opposing fan or fans doing the Who Are They? feature.
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I have not analysed the replies in any detail – though it might be a good idea to do so – but can say that the responses overwhelmingly put club first.


* With thanks to Elliott Brown (St George flag, above the old Windsor railway station) and “Mrs Logic” (Stadium of Light gates) for the photos


And indeed, you can put club first and still observe your patriotic duty, with whatever strength of feeling, in supporting your country too.

My own answer to the Club vs Country question is – and yes, I’ve used the line before – that it’s an easy home win. I’d consider spending money I haven’t got, using pass outs I haven’t been given and devoting time I should be using otherwise in order to watch a Sunderland game on which nothing depended. Internationals, on the other hand, I can take or leave.

Yes, I want England to do well, and that remains the case despite the various setbacks Sunderland fans have suffered over the years as potentially international class players from our club have been systematically overlooked.

I can even look back a few months and find evidence that the imminence now of the World Cup has revived my own enthusiasm to some extent. In the first of a three-part series on the question posed by this article’s headline – click this link – I mentioned an earlier Darren Bent exclusion by Fabio Capello, against Ukraine, and said it wouldn’t have made much difference to my interest anyway.

With the big kick-off only a week away, I cannot deny that I’d have felt a lot more passion about England had he gone (and played some meaningful part).

So when it really matters, I can become an England supporter again, however shamefully I can be put off by club-based disappointment. It leaves me wondering how many of our Who Are They? guests also feel just a little fired up, now that it’s so close, having answered my Club vs Country? with a resounding “Club every time”.

Living in France, I’ll see plenty of Les Bleus, though I expect their stay in the tournament to be short; I will otherwise root around the channels or streams in the hope of catching some scintillating performances from Paulo da Silva and Cristian Riveros for Paraguay. And from England.

If England make it all the way, grand. If they come home with tails between legs, so be it. It won’t have anything like the same emotional impact for me as winning promotion (short memories) or the cup (longer ones) or indeed, flicking the coin, going down or missing out. But it’s the best I can do, and it’s an improvement on my previous thoughts.

See also: Club versus country: (1) A smoking gun

(2) Even the reserves come first

(3) The yob factor

Colin Randall

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7 thoughts on “Club versus country: time to choose?”

  1. I’m surprised that anyone apart from the most fair minded French fan, would regard Henry’s actions as disgraceful. The French would have been complaining bitterly if they hadn’t made the finals as a result of him not cheating, I’m sure.

    It’s easy to resort to stereotyping the mentality of the French, when the reality is as you say a rich melange of emotions and views. So, from what you say, it would appear that the relative lack of competition at league level associated with apparent disinterest in club football means that for huge swathes of the population, there is no genuine of club v country preference or allegiance.

    While it could be said that for most supporters there is nothing mutually exclusive about supporting club or country. The debate on this forum and others has emerged from the question of representativeness of (in our case) the England team. Most of us, it would appear have lost any interest we might once have had simply because of that sense of being disenfranchised by squad and team selection. The fundamental question is not really club v country, but to question ourselves whether we are being represented. Fans of other clubs, righly or wrongly that we should support the national team regardless of who is playing. This issue didn’t begin with Darren Bent’s exclusion. It won’t end there either. As Pete said in one of his articles, there is evidence to support our widespread indifference going back to Kevin Phillips in relatively recent times and back as far as 1970 and Jim Montgomery. Beyond, feelings that we are not being represented, there are more important questions around why this should be the case. We may be paranoid but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get us.

  2. The ideals of 1998 and 2000 – when the famous Blanc-Black-Beur team won the World and European Nations cups – are all but forgotten. I know people who would deny they are racists but are dismayed by how few white faces appear in the line-up, and how few of the players sing, or even know the words of, La Marseillaise.

    It’s odd that two of the players who have done most to dismantle racist stereotypes, Zidane and Henry, have also suffered disgrace, though no one has reproached Zidane for butting the Italian oaf since about half an hour after it happened and people may even forget or at least forgive Thierry’s handball in time. And Yannick Noah is consistently voted France’s favourite personality, maybe more for ghis music and charitable works than flor his sporting achievements as a French winner. Quite a melange of emotions, then, but don’t forget also that outside Marseille, Lyon and Paris, no one goes much to football anyway, however much they may watch it at home. Look at Bordeaux – deserved champions last season (despite our grievances with them), did brilliantly in both ligue 1 and the Champions’ League for half a season but couldn;t even fill a smallish ground. I know few people who are as passionate about their clubs as we are, again apart from OM, Lyon and PSG.
    I know no one who expects France to do well in SAfrica.

  3. What’s the situation in France Colin, on the club v country issue?

    In our part of France, if I can call it that; Burgundy there was a very negative attitude displayed by many towards the very successful French teams that won both the Euros and WC. Not the same issue of club v country, I know but about “who was respresenting France.”

    The negativity surrounded the presence players who were African in origin, and also black players who were French born. Many felt that this was simply not a French team. A good friend of ours (who lived next door to us; in France) is Algerian, and was acutely aware of the prejudices that often exist towards people from the “maghreb” and beyond. Interestingly he identified with France because of Zidane.

  4. No question at all — I have no feelings whatsoever for England. I’d love to see France win but I think it’ll be Spain.
    Meanwhile, what rotten luck for Drogba (and the Ivory Coast) to break his arm.

  5. Superb post Colin. You took the words right out of my mouth. Club versus country? There is no question on the issue for me.

    I get more excited when Sunderland get a corner than about England games. SAFC represent me, our shared history, our north east culture, warts and all. England, I feel are as representative of me as jellied eels and rhyming slang.

    H’way Paraguay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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