After the humiliation of a rugby World Cup defeat against Argentina, last night’s superb win by Scotland at the Parc des Princes in the European Championships deepened the sense of national catastrophe in France, leaving le coq crowing a fair bit less proudly.
A Scot who willed England to victory in anything would be regarded by many of his countrymen as mad or beneath contempt, or both.
Scots could retort that the perfidious English way is to cheer on Scotland, Wales and even the Irish, claiming any unexpected success as one for Britain or, in the case of Ireland and how they hate this, the British Isles.
The Frenchness of the family I married into leads me to support France quite often. I was delighted when they won the 1998 World Cup with that sensational un-deux-trois-zéro tonking of Brazil. Even Zidane’s act of stupidity failed to make me pleased that Italy beat France in the final of the same competition last year.
But last night, as when I watched Ireland at the Stade de France in a World Cup qualifier two years ago, I was rooting for the opposition: on this occasion Scotland. Craig Gordon was one very good reason for doing so, but he was not the only one.
As I have mentioned here and elsewhere, I am notoriously anti-internationals. As is the norm, I was perfectly happy to see that England beat Russian 3-0, but am a trillion times more concerned about SAFC v Reading this Saturday.
Last night, French TV naturally showed their own match, not England’s.
It was a dogged and occasionally inspired performance by the Scots, urged on by a raucous support that had outsung the home fans when the anthems were played and then given further impassioned renditions of Flower of Scotland at intervals during the game.
And our Craig played a blinder, pulling off two or three glorious saves and generally commanding his area with confidence and style.
McFadden’s strike may have had a touch of hit and hope about it but rocketed spectacularly into the French net.
When the final whistle went, it was almost like watching Sunderland clinchng a win in similarly important circumstances. Maybe thoughts of Ian Porterfield had been a subconscious factor in my happiness at the Scottish victory, but happy I most certainly was.
There must have been some party on the streets of Paris into today’s small hours. How the French took this, and whether the setback left them feeling quite as attached as usual to the Auld Alliance, may be another matter.
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French football blog, if your Francais is up to it!