Germans call Austrians ‘the valley shitters.’ It’s something to do with the Alps. Even though the Germans have Alps as well… it’s all very confusing.
One thing, however, that’s not confusing in Germany is the football. Der Ball ist rund after all. Germany has its Bundesliga and football pyramid and the other German speaking countries have their league systems.
The Germans don’t feel the need to denigrate the other leagues from Germanic countires simply because UEFA competition rankings and UEFA club rankings speak for themselves. Not to mention Salzburg’s recent pumping of BVB in the Europa League (I mentioned it once here, but I think I got away with it.)
The rankings make everything clear; there’s no ambiguity. Germany is 4th in the table, Austria is 11th and Switzerland is 12th. Oh and Luxembourg is 48th. That’s, ahem, real progres (Wales and N.Ireland, incidentally, are 49th and 50th respectively.) The 4th highest ranked German team (Schalke 04) is 10 places above the top Austrian team (Salzburg). The rankings are there on the UEFA website for all to see. Alles klar.
The Germans, therefore, don’t feel the need to discuss the strength of the mentioned leagues. Why would they? A half-wit like Joey Barton could even work out the rankings without discussion. In fact, by the end of it, he would probably be listening to Kraftwerk and downloading Brecht onto his Kindle.
So, it was beyond tiresome to hear said half-wit pontificate on a radio station recently (no more oxygen should be wasted on mentioning the name of the radio station. We all know which one it is. It’s the one for people that listen with their mouths open) and it got me to wondering: why do the English feel the need to discuss the SPFL?
I think the obvious answer is because lowest common denominator radio stations are desperate for click bait headlines. But this verbal attack has gone on too long for that to be 100% of the answer.
For someone like Joey Barton, who ran his mouth beforehand and then spent his Rangers career being either outfought or outplayed, it is fairly clear to see that he is just trying to justify his horrendous impact in Scotland. He is essentially intimating that he was too good at football for Scotland.
But what about the English in general (and I am, of course, speaking in generalities here)?
Celtic, and Scottish football as a whole, are constantly mocked by clubs up and down the English league system, by supporters of clubs like the historically successful and silverware-laden Newcastle United (forum posts around about the time of us signing Fraser Forster were a special kind of venom), all the way down to the lower ranks of League 2.
Why? Why is there a discussion when we all know the competition ranking for the SPFL?
Perhaps it’s an inferiority complex.
In the 28 seasons since the beginning of the 90’s, English clubs have won the Champions League four times. Four times the richest league in the world has beaten out the rest of Europe to become top dogs. Barcelona and Real Madrid have won it more individually. Oh and Sevilla have won the Europa League more times than all the English clubs put together in that time.
English footballing culture is the half-strong kid at school. The one that gets bullied by the popular kids, but then picks on the cool hipster kids: weeping miserably as he tries to pull their man buns.
But don’t worry half-strong boy: you have the richest parents, so you don’t need to be strong.
There is also much to be jealous of.
Our standing section is a phenomenon and the atmosphere at our games is spoken about all around the world. Even the noise created by the small bunch of Motherwell ultras on Sunday put most EPL games to shame.
Ticket prices, although not the best in Europe, are still much lower than the EPL and it means, in general, that football continues to be a working class sport in Scotland.
Scottish football has a feel of authenticity, much in the same way that German football does. I’m not sure English football can say that. The rest picture side by side of celebrating players, although in no way scientific, was an interesting comparison of authenticity.
When an English football fan speaks about the Scottish game they are doing one of three things:
a) trying to sell something,
b) trying to make themselves feel better about only being half strong (maybe criticising us will at least get them a wee chubby. Bless) or
c) verbalising a rankings table in a completely redundant way (we write down tables so that we don’t need to verbalise them. There is no oral tradition in modern day football. It’s not fucking Beowulf. Go to the fucking UEFA website, Joey, ya gobshite.)
P.S. Just as I was finishing this article I noticed a tweet from a Celtic fan, a video of the tifo from the Barcelona game. The first response was from a West Ham fan: ‘pub league’.
A West Ham fan.