Radio Scotland’s Only An Excuse shows about football have become far more popular than the
. . 171x Lugoc' series they began by parodylng. Stuart Bathgate asks “W” producer and writer Philip Differ why the sport Oxford. EycrytimeGlasgowgota question right the audience cheered, should offer such scope for comedy, and, as the new and everytime they gotaquesuon wrong the audience still cheered. programme and tape, Only A World Cup , BamberGascoigne didn’t havea , clue what was going on.’ are about to be issued, reﬂects on The more Differ rename wider he casts his net. ‘lt’s a bit like the Why, for SO many SCOtS, taree hundred Spartans,’he says, ‘or - o - Al .111 the Sight of grown men klckmg a ‘scimfh'gﬁysaffﬁgvﬁiiﬁﬂi’iey .. ball about should i‘::,“;.‘.'.‘f.’.‘¥::§ﬁ;‘ffg‘°g““8‘”
You begin to pick up the right be mOSt attitude at an early age. My own ‘ a ° introduction to it came when l was /‘ lmpgrta.nt thlng nine or ten. Walking to school one In llfe . morning, I caught sight of one of my
classmates. He was skipping along, waving his arms about, and singing the immortal lines ‘We’re mental, we’re balmy, we’re off our fuckin ’ heids. ’
We might be mental, but we can still change our priorities. No longer is ‘giving the bastard English a right good gubbing’, as the ﬁrst tape put it, the sine qua non of Scottish football. The fact that English clubs are banned from Europe has not only meant more Englishmen come up here to play, it has also forced the London-based media to treat the Scottish game with more respect.
Winning recognition as a world power in football may be that little bit harder. Qualifying for ﬁve consecutive World Cup ﬁnals is a substantial achievement, but doing anything more still seems to be beyond us. In Mexico, in 1986, it was the manner of our elimination which was galling, not the elimination itself: two narrow defeats and one goalless draw, with few of the players appearing to have any passion about the thing. No one was sent home early for taking drugs, no one stepped out of line. It was all so respectable, as if we finally knew our place.
Only A World C up concludes with the platitudinous predictions of the usual press pundits. Does Differ himself have a futile forecast? ‘Well, we’re probably no’ going to win, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.’
Only A World Cup, Radio Scotland, Sun 1 Apr, 1.30—2pm. The double cassette, 104 minutes long, is released the next day, and should retail at
Tony Honor and Jonathan Watson
The List 23 March — 5 April 1990 7