Saturday, February 04, 2006

Divided loyalties? I don't think so

So Wales lost. Again. Fifty-something, to something-teen. My friend texted me after the game and said "Bet you're not so Welsh now, sucker". There seems to be a view amongst my friends that, because I wasn't born in Wales, I'll stop supporting them if they play badly, and it winds me up (which, to be honest, is the real reason my friends dig my about it).

I'm English, I was born in Loughborough, Leicestershire, and raised there. But both my parents are Welsh, and since I was a little boy I've been surrounded by a passion for Welsh rugby. My Gramma's house, where my mum was brought up, is a stones throw from Neath All Blacks' Gnoll Park ground. My Uncle and Gramps went to Neath games all the time, and there was just no option other than to support Wales. It wasn't a decision, I didn't wake up one day and say "I'm going to support Wales", it just was always the way things were. Is that so hard to understand?

I don't make it any easier for people by supporting England in the football. Now that was a conscious decision. Mainly because no-one in my family gives a shit about football, in fact they hate it. In fact, it was almost difficult to admit in my teenage years that I quite liked football. I decided to like my local team, Leicester City, and to like England, my national team. Mainly because that's what everyone at my school did. So just as I followed family tradition when it came to rugby, I followed the school crowd when it came to football. See, quite simple really.

I've heard about British Asians having this problem as well - England in the football, Pakistan or India in the cricket. But why should it be a problem? We have mixed heritages, why not be allowed to allocate those heritages across different sports? And come to think of it, why not be allowed to support whoever the hell you want, no matter where you come from. As long as you are consistent. I can support Croatia in the World Cup if I want to. But I have to support them after that as well, forever, and I can't support another team just if they're doing badly.

So yes, I'm just as Welsh as I was before (whether that's half welsh, quarter welsh, not at all welsh) and I still support WRU. And I'll be wearing my WRU top to work on Monday, just as I always do the day after a rugby match, win or lose.

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