Drumlanrig: The real politics of football

EASILY the most challenging aspect of David Cameron’s trip north of the Border concerned the Scottish Cup final.

Nigel Farage did not know who the coach of Scotland's national football team was. Picture: SNS
Nigel Farage did not know who the coach of Scotland's national football team was. Picture: SNS

“Which team would the Prime Minister be supporting?” was the killer question posed to him when he appeared on Reporting Scotland.

Cameron’s face went blank. Was the Prime Minister about to wipe out what remains of Tory support in Scotland by displaying an insulting ignorance of a great Scottish sporting institution?

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“Err, I hear your political editor supports Dundee United,” muttered Cameron, salvaging the situation by remembering that the BBC’s Brian Taylor is a committed Arab. Cameron then skilfully steered the conversation on to safer ground by remarking that it was yet another cup final that his team Aston Villa was not involved in this season. The clock saved Cameron from having to name St Johnstone as United’s rival in the all Tayside final.

How IDS’s relationship with Scots hit the rocks

CAMERON did better than one of his predecessors as Tory leader when it came to answering questions on Scottish football. About ten years ago, Iain Duncan Smith came to the Scottish conference in Perth where he was accosted by a group of tabloid hacks at Dewar’s Rinks, who were revved up by a boozy lunch. “Who’s the Scotland manager?” and “Who scored the winning goal against the Faroe Islands?” were the sort of questions hurled at the then Tory leader, who could only profess ignorance. Eventually Duncan Smith walked away from the barrage – prompting the man from the Sunday Mail to throw a “See you Jimmy” hat at him in disgust.

Ukip chief reveals loveaffair with oval ball

UKIP’S Nigel Farage is another who is not nearly as well briefed on Scottish sport as the Prime Minister. During his visit to Scotland, Farage admitted he had no idea who the Scotland football manager was.

“It used to be Alex Ferguson, didn’t it?” he said, a remark that suggests his footie trivia is nearly 30 years out of date.

Farage’s excuse for not knowing that Gordon Strachan (pictured) was in charge of the national team was that he was more of an oval ball man. Sure enough, Farage was then asked who the Scotland rugby captain was.

Farage was unable to name Kelly Brown – perhaps not surprising given that Brown was controversially dropped for much of this year’s Six Nations.

Gemmill’s Goal provesthat Scotsmen do dance

SCOTTISH football maybe off the radar of visiting politicians, but little else is discussed at Holyrood. Last week a debate on culture saw Labour’s Neil Bibby admit that his youthful enthusiasm for football overshadowed any interest in the arts. Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop recommended that he see Gemmill’s Goal – a dance production the Off Kilter group based on Archie Gemmill’s wondrous dribble and score against Holland at Argentina 1978.

Hyslop’s contribution prompted Bibby’s team-mate in the MSPs football XI, Liam McArthur, to remark: “Having witnessed at first hand Neil Bibby’s goal celebrations, I can assure the cabinet secretary that dancing is alive and well in the Bibby household.”