DOES this phrase sound familiar?
“I don’t care who wins, as long as it isn’t England.”
We’ve heard it during the rugby Six Nations, we’ll hear it during the FIFA World Cup and we’ve even heard a variation of it on an album by one of Wales’ biggest bands.
Some will remember the furore over the Stereophonics’ song As Long as we beat the English being played on a BBC Sports Wales promotion in 1999.
Having said that, there is some support for Roy Hodgson’s boys in white on the Welsh side of the border in the run-up to their tournament opener against Italy tomorrow night. Especially as Wales haven’t qualified for a World Cup for more than half a century.
England flags are visible hanging from windows in Saltney, although this is unsurprising given the town rests in both Flintshire and Cheshire, and you’ll get a different answer to the question of “what country do you live in?” depending on which resident you ask there.
So the Leader asked residents whether, in the absence of a Wales team at the finals, they would be happy to support their neighbours, or if the old phrase still rings true.
For Jay Edwards, 31, of Connah’s Quay, the question of whether he’d support England was an easy one to answer, with a simple “nope”.
Chelsea Lawton-Swatton, 23, also of Connah’s Quay, was more supportive, and announced that her flags would soon be proudly on show.
She said: “If it was Wales in the World Cup and England weren’t I would still celebrate even though I’m English!
Louise Catton, 25, of Connah’s Quay, said she was supporting England even though she was Welsh.
She said: “I’d support any British teams in big competitions except when they play Wales. It’s the same as if a British team I didn’t usually like was playing in the Champions League – I’d still support them.”
Natalie Edwards, 32, described herself as an English girl living in “beautiful Wales”.
She said: “I’m not keen on footie but yeah, I’ll probably shout them on.
“When the rugby’s on I shout on England and Wales until they play each other and then I’m a bit torn.”
Sian Butler, 28, of Holywell, refused to back England, saying she was “Welsh and proud”.
But Stephanie Wilson, 40, of Connah’s Quay, had no time for partisanship.
She said: “Obviously, Welsh bigots don’t realise we live in and are part of the United Kingdom! Just because Wales are useless at playing with a spherical ball instead of a squashed one! England supports Wales when they do anything. It makes me laugh that a lot of those who say they won’t support English footie actually support English clubs. If you’re that proud of the Welsh, why not support a Welsh club?”
Keith Evans, 55, of Flint, a long-time resident of North Wales, was not among those who would attract Stephanie’s ire.
He said: “I’ll probably support England because I am a Liverpool supporter.”
Stephen Hughes, 50, of Wrexham, was a bit scathing of England’s chances.
He said: “No I won’t (support them) as being Welsh, I’m sick of hearing about
England. They won’t last five minutes, but that’s just my opinion.”
Elwyn Evans, 52, of Chirk, is a stout Welshman, but was happy to support England.
He said: “I would cheer for Scotland, Ireland and Wales, so why not?”
Stephen Parry, 40, of Connah’s Quay, said: “I’ll be cheering the English on. Love thy neighbour and all that!”
Adam Williams, 41, of Mold, will have a job picking a team.
He said: “My birthplace is Australia so I’ll be keeping an eye on them and England, although I live in Wales. Confused? Me too.”
Owain Bevan, 39, of Holywell said: “I’ve got no problem with the English; it’s the jingoistic English sports media I can’t stand. Other than that, I just want to watch some good football.”
Some people are armchair fans and some are only interested in football when an international event rolls around every couple of years. For others, football is part of their daily life.
James Chapman, who plays for Flint Mountain FC and also and manages the club’s reserves, said members of the club were going to be watching the England v Italy game on Saturday.
He said: “I think it brings people together and it does bring people a bit of hope.
“I was born in Chester, so I’ll support England, but I’ll also be supporting Greece with being a quarter Greek as well. If they end up facing each other – well I have had that before.
“It’s hard to answer which way I’d go, I think it would be England – just.”
Lee Breeze, 31, the chairman of the Deeside Dragons, a youth side, was also born in Chester, but had lived most of his life in Flint.
He said: “I’ll be supporting England. If Wales ever made it through to the World Cup, I’d support them, but not over England. It’s all England in my family, but my wife is Welsh, so they’re not so keen.
“There’s no tension though! We get along just fine.
“The lads at the club will be cheering for England as well, even if they’re Welsh. We’ve got a lot of Liverpool fans and Man United fans and they’re rooting for Rooney, Sturridge and the rest.”
His colleague, coach Chris Brooks, 27, an avid Welshman from Flint Mountain, said he would be following England.
He said: “I wouldn’t say I’m a mad supporter but if they won out, I would be pleased. I hope they do well.
“I think it’s good that in the Deeside Dragons we don’t see any of that ‘as long as England loses’ sentiment. A lot of them are pretty open, even the patriotic Welsh lads, which is quite nice for them.
“They don’t have any of that bitterness at that age.”
l Do you think it’s time to show England/Wales rivalry the red card, or is it all a bit of light-hearted ribbing? Email your opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org