With the World Cup 2018 just a month away, it has got me thinking about the conundrum we Manx have to face every four years.
Whilst the 32 nations preparing to venture to Russia have all the excitement and anticipation leading into the tournament, here on the Island, it’s almost like an added bonus ball to the non-stop drinking and partying of TT fortnight.
I, like many of us, am a fanatical football fan; obsessed with all kinds of pointless stats and know more trivia about former Premier League players than my own family history (looking at you Celestine Babayaro).
Alas, there is one thing I cannot deny; our fiercely independent and proud nomadic Manx status leaves us as a piggy in the middle during the World Cup or European Championships.
Whilst in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Tour De France we have some Manx representatives that can fly our flag for us, but for me the International football tournaments leave us in the position of, “always the bridesmaid never the bride”.
Is it our party to celebrate?
A lot of folk on the Island will pitch up to support England for a variety of reasons;
- They’re our closest neighbours
- A lot of folk here come from or have family there
- And most of the players play for teams we support
However! This allegiance and St George’s pride is in stark contrast to our attitudes when we are overseas, the “I’m Manx, not English” diatribe takes a complete 180 turn during these few weeks.
There are also many of us who have no English heritage and don’t really buy into “Three Lions on a Shirt” and all that jazz.
Some have families that hail from the other home nations but due to Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland (shock horror) all missing out, it is England who are the sole representatives from the British Isles.
So now, if you’re yet to pick a team to support, you’ll need to look a little further afield. With the Premier League’s numerous foreign superstars, Champions League and the top European Domestic Leagues, there will be some who will opt for a more continental choice.
France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Belgium will be popular teams for many, then even further round the globe you have the juggernauts of Argentina and Brazil.
Better yet, you could even try the old school route of going down to Intersport or Sports Direct and picking whatever random kit that maybe on sale. Pockets of Croatia and Senegal barmy armies may yet appear outside of Jaks.
The work sweepstake or just picking the team with the nicest kit (Nigeria) can also provide some inspiration in who to back.
I myself support Italy for family reasons, and following their monumental balls-up against Sweden, I am now just throwing darts randomly at Panini stickers to see which team I’ll be backing for the World Cup.
Like a hobbit in the shire, the drama and excitement is elsewhere and whilst we may feel we are missing out, just think of the added bonuses, the stress is more bearable, you can appreciate the football on hand and technically we can just jump on the glory bandwagon and get drunk anyway.