Andrew Abbott's Blog

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

England v France. Wembley – it’s a family affair.

There was a time when England and France were virtually one country. We certainly know about that in Lincoln where the two jewels in our crown, the castle and cathedral were built in the era when the language of the ruling classes was French or at least Norman French. Various Kings of England claimed France and vice versa.

After that things went a bit pear shaped but we’re friends and partners now.

As football fans we’re always being told that we’re well, you know, a bit of a long way down the food chain, certainly not on a par with those rugby loving chaps when it comes to manners. However, when our neighbours needed someone to stand shoulder to shoulder with them it just happens to be football that provided the opportunity.

National Anthems are a bit of a vexed subject when it comes to England matches and I must confess to being rather embarrassed at the behaviour of some of our fans when it comes to respecting the opponent’s anthem. For me that changed considerably when Wembley closed and England went on tour so to speak. I think the fans in Manchester and Leeds rather showed up London based England supporters and demonstrated a decency and respect for the anthems of other nations that has rubbed off on Wembley.

I didn’t however foresee a day when our fans would join in to sing la marseillaise and instead of showing the cross of St George displayed the Tricolour but they did and mightily appreciated it was as the French took to twitter to express their thoughts. Even the French government joined in.

La marseillaise is a song of defiance, solidarity and patriotism so, awful though the circumstances are it was entirely appropriate and last night gave hope that even amongst such sadness the sun will always break through again eventually.

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