What should Scotland’s national anthem be?

Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream. Picture: Robert Perry
Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream. Picture: Robert Perry
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SCOTLAND has no official national anthem. While Flower of Scotland has been used at major international sporting events for almost three decades, debate continues over whether there are more deserving songs. We look at five alternatives to the Corries’ classic.

Scotland the Brave

Scotland the Brave enjoyed a degree of official recognition as the song played at Commonwealth Games medal ceremonies until 2010, when it was replaced by the ubiquitous Flower of Scotland. Beginning life as an instrumental at the turn of the last century, its composer can not be definitively identified. What we do know is that its now seldom-heard lyrics were written by Glaswegian journalist Cliff Hanley in the 1950s. A rumour persists that Hanley, tongue firmly in cheek, tried to insert as many Scottish clichés as possible. The instrumental was adopted as the regimental quick march by the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006.

Scots Wha Hae

A song of undoubted historic and cultural importance. Its lyrics were written by Robert Burns in 1793 and based on a speech given by Robert the Bruce to his troops before the battle of Bannockburn. The Bard set his words to the traditional Scottish air Hey Tuttie Tatie - a tune that was ancient even in Burns’ time - and it’s proved a folk club staple to this day. But the slow tempo means it’s difficult to imagine a national side at either Hampden or Murrayfield singing it in time, let alone remembering all the words.

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

It’s easy to forget there was a time when 500 Miles was only known by a small band of Proclaimers die-hards and fans of Hibernian Football Club. Its status as an unofficial national anthem took hold around the late 1990s/early 2000s, which was reflected when Craig and Charlie Reid were invited to perform the song at Hampden Park ahead of the 2002 Champions League final. There’s no denying its rousing chorus is the perfect terrace chant, but Proclaimers fans will tell you its not even the best song on its original album. Would Sunshine on Leith not make a better bet?

Caledonia

The Scottish folk scene of the 1960s and 1970s produced a wealth of patriotic songs, the most famous of which is, of course, Flower of Scotland. Second on the list is Dougie MacLean’s much-loved 1977 ballad Caledonia, whose chorus is guarenteed to reduce any exiled Scot to tears at closing time. The song’s profile was boosted massively when it was covered by Frankie Miller in 1991 and used in a Tennent’s Lager television advert. In the weeks before the 2014 referendum on independence, it seemed there was a busker positioned every 20 yards on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street singing it.

Movin’ On Up

Primal Scream may have been based in London for most of their career, but Bobby Gillespie’s band have never shied away from proclaiming their love of their homeland. The finest rock band ever to come out of Glasgow’s southside, the Scream have possibly never bettered this opening track from 1991 album Screamadelica. Its gospel-style chorus and universal declaration of love would offer a radical alternative to other stuffy national anthems based on long-forgotten military campaigns.