5 national anthem alternatives to Flower of Scotland

A fierce debate was sparked on these pages yesterday after pro-Union campaigner Alistair Cameron called for the end of Flower of Scotland as our nation's sporting anthem.
Will fans have a new anthem to sing? Picture: SNSWill fans have a new anthem to sing? Picture: SNS
Will fans have a new anthem to sing? Picture: SNS

Cameron reckons that the song, which was written in the 1960s, has too overtly nationalistic a tone and is needlessly aggressive towards our friends in England.

Cameron also suggests that the anthem should celebrate the things that make our country great, not a reflective on an old battle victory over our nearest neighbours.

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It’s a debate that’s been raging since almost the moment that Flower of Scotland was designated our national anthem, and is unlikely to go away any time soon.

Some 56% of Scottish supporters who participated in a recent poll said that they backed Flower of Scotland, although interestingly the official supporters club was less keen on the idea.

A parliamentary committee was examining the potential alternatives, and whether Scotland should even have an anthem.

We look at just some of the songs that could be belted out at Hampden and Murrayfield.

Scotland the Brave

This was the alternative anthem that Cameron put forward yesterday, and history suggests that he wouldn’t be alone in that belief.

It’s a lofty song, that conjures images of Scotland’s geographical features, and some of the personality traits traditionally associated with Scots– like bravery and kindness.

The bagpipe-accompanied song, written by a journalist, was used by Scotland’s football team for three World Cups before falling out of favour in the 1990s.

It was also used as Scotland’s official Commonwealth Games anthem, before it was replaced by Flower of Scotland.

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Among the potential negatives of re-introducing Scotland the Brave are that national anthems are partly designed to fire up athletes and audiences.

While Flower of Scotland is a bit of a dirge, and can be construed as anti-English, it does have an edge in that it seems to get people going.

Scotland the Brave is a nice tune and melody, but the rolling hills and friendly people it portrays doesn’t exactly strike fear into the opposition.


In recent years it has been more likely to adorn adverts than be belted out by football fans, but the Dougie MacLean classic has always been on the shortlist for national anthems.

The folk song has been covered by Scottish artists from Paolo Nutini to Frankie Miller.

The Miller version gained more prominence when it was used in a famous Tennent’s Lager advert about a Scot returning home from London.

Coming third in an online poll in 2014 behind Flower of Scotland and Scotland the Brave, Caledonia could be the perfect way to show what we mean to the world.

With a diaspora that has inspired people everywhere from America to Australia, Scotland’s people have been spread all over.

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With a wish to return home, a national anthem that could conjure up those feelings could stir the ideal reactions before sporting events.

The downside is that, no matter how much some covers have tried to make the song uplifting and upbeat, there’s no denying it’s a mournful tune.

While the song’s hero returns home, it’s still quite sad, doubly so if 50,000 beery fans at Hampden are singing it.

Scots Wha Hae

If any other countries had a national poet as famous and as decorated as Scotland’s is, using one of their works as an anthem wouldn’t even be a debate.

But for some reason this Robert Burns poem, based on a speech given by Robert the Bruce, has never quite taken off in national anthem polling.

The tune and the lyrics both lend themselves for singing by large groups of people, and could be exactly the anthem that could catapult Scotland’s football team to another major tournament.

That Scots Wha Hae is in Scots would also meet another anthem requirement for many, being in a traditional language.

This would bring us alongside Ireland and Wales, both of whom have anthems that are sung in traditional language.

The so heartily sick of hearing it.

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It could be seen as too political though as it is sung at the closing of the SNP’s conference every year.

It also focuses on the Battle of Bannockburn, just as Flower of Scotland does, so it may be self-defeating to replace one anthem with another on the same theme.

Is there for Honesty Poverty?

If we wanted some Burns, but were keen to avoid the overtly Bannockburn-themed nationalistic tone of Scots Wha Hae, this could provide the answer.

Is there for honesty poverty might not be broad enough for the national anthem, but it does spell out what Burns thought it meant to be a man.

Inspiring some contemporary thinkers, the song is seen to speak to ideas of a less lassez-faire society, and has also been linked to nascent notions of Scottish statehood.

With Scotland and our fans renowned for fair play and good behaviour the closing verses could speak to our belief in global friendship.

“That Man to Man, the world o’er, Shall brothers be for a’ that,” could be the ideal thing to say to our opponents before we beat them.

A potential drawback is that there is no obvious sporting connection to the song, so it would come something out of nowhere.

A tune would also need to be agreed upon.

(I’m gonna be) 500 Miles

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Maybe it’s time to ditch the traditional approach and just go for a straight up pop song.

The Proclaimers’ smash hit has been a fixture in CD collections since the 90s, and has been gracing football stadiums as a celebration song since around ten years ago.

The lyrics aren’t about Scotland, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be re-purposed – the Proclaimers would surely be up for slightly tweaking the lyrics.

And many diehard Scotland fans have travelled more than 500 miles to follow their heroes, so this could be the perfect way to dedicate an anthem to the supporters.

The downsides are obvious – it is a pop song, and a cheesy one at that, with plenty of Scots who are

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