Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ocean Racing's Not Coming Home

Here in blighty land sailing, alas, can no longer claim - if it ever could - to be the national sport, which arguably is football.

It is therefore paradoxical that there is no national, as in British, football team: for political reasons the "nations" here are England, Wales, and Scotland. Where Northern Ireland fits in I'm not sure but there's this great Wikipedia article that explains the various combinations and what is included in each.

But football was invented here, in England to be precise. And for that reason one of the favourite songs sung by the English fan is the catchy tune with chorus "Football's coming home, its coming home, its coming home". Almost invariably of course the England team fails to live up to these high hopes, and the trophy heads to other shores.

And ocean yacht racing has followed suit, as there are no stopovers in the United Kingdom for the first time since the Volvo Ocean Race (nee Whitbread) was invented, again here in England. The fleet of Volvo 70s will end their crossing of the Atlantic by turning up in Galway, Ireland sometime over the next day or so.

I'd like to say that there's no difference, as Galway is part of the British Isles or Europe, and so either way it's still home. But the regional identity of "Europe" is still too fragmentic and weak to be convincing.

This time around, ocean racing is not coming home (it's not coming home).


Tillerman said...

You are right to be confused about Irish football teams. Again according to Wikipedia, from 1936 to 1954 there were two Irish teams (one based in the north and one in the south) which both recruited from the whole of the island of Ireland. Indeed 38 players were "dual international" and 4 players actually played for both teams in the same World Cup tournament (though presumably not in an Ireland v Ireland game.)

FIFA eventually put a stop to this truly Irish mess and made the two teams change their names and select players based on the political border.

JP said...

Thanks for that - how interesting!

One of the advantages of Britain (for me anyhow) is can claim multiple nationalities without moving - English, Scottish and British!