Full Time

head shot of Alec Ross

With a coronation happening, Scotland is playing a blinder and seems to have admirably reached new heights of indifference over the prospect. Although there was nothing ambiguous about the chant from Celtic fans last week that went viral. Proudly, fiercely different, as the late AA Gill described us. I’ll take that.

But even so I thought it better to take no chances. So I’m in Ireland, reading the papers.

The first proper cup final I remember watching was the 1983 edition between Aberdeen and Rangers, which wasn’t a great final because a) Rangers were dreadful and had been for years and b) Aberdeen were brilliant but played poorly on the day, mostly because they’d just got back from beating Real Madrid to win the cup winners cup and were clearly tired – and possibly emotional. In those days you could access both BBC Scotland and BBC London – so I was actually able to keep an eye on a much more entertaining English final between Brighton and Man Utd.

But the point is both finals kicked off at the same time, and nobody considered this a problem. If anything, it just added to the whole occasion.

Here’s a hypothetical question. Would the French Cup final be switched if the Spanish Cup final was on at the same time? Non. Mon Dieu! Jamais!!

To cravenly accede to the demands of a broadcaster and be dictated to by a competition from another country that has no jurisdiction over our game – although one that alas has jurisdiction over many other things we don’t want in our lives – is a new low, the very epitome of the Scottish cringe. For those who aren’t as obsessed with the beautiful game as I am, the game is at half five. The last train to Inverness from Glasgow? Half seven. Enjoy your day, lads. You’ll have had your consultation.

In the original Scotland bill ahead of the 1997 vote on devolution, broadcasting was devolved, before being rescinded at the last minute. You control the media, you control the message.

This is the result of us not controlling our own broadcasting. When we finally qualified for a proper tournament after 22 years (Euro 2020), there were 32 teams in the competition and we were the only country not in control of the broadcasting of its own national team’s games. Think about that.

The ensuing lack of nuance over Scotland from a London based media was as staggering as it was predictable. Although it did elicit a wonderful comment from the excellent Ally McCoist. “Any more of this patter and I’m marching on Derby”, he said, suggesting that as good a player as he was his historical awareness remains pretty decent.

No need for VAR on this one – football is part of our DNA, part of our history, woven in our culture and sense of nationhood. Time to bring our broadcasting home. Time to bring our national game home. Time to bring our democracy home. Time for the quiet, proud normality of living an independent, republican, self-determining Scotland.

Because it’s later than you think.

Oh, one last thing. Aberdeen remain, 40 years on, the last team to beat Real Madrid in a final, and Scotland beat Spain a few weeks ago.

We’re actually quite good. And – Celtic fans will get the reference – we never stop.

Celtic ‘hugely disappointed’ as Scottish Cup final moved to 5.30pm kick-off

head and shoulders of Alec Ross

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