If there is one rivalry that could send Britain to a civil war, it has to be club sport. From football to rugby and cricket, different sets of fans are always baying for a good roasting of rival fans and players. The scenes are so hot that, were it not for strict sporting regulations, tens of spectators would be lining up for treatment at the livi medical every week.
The most amazing thing, however, is the nosedive that such rivalries take when players from rival clubs turn up for national duty. Anyone who has not had the experience would be mistaken for thinking that club rivalry could negatively affect the national teams. But it does not.
On the contrary, fans miraculously choose to forget their club allegiance when national teams pitch camp. Think the 2018 FIFA World cup in Russia, for example.
With teams coming from a grueling season of club rivalry that saw Manchester City once again slap United on the face with a premier league win, one would think some fans would be throwing jabs at any sky blue players called up to Gareth Southgate’s squad. The most visible were forward Raheem Sterling and defender John Stones who had played a huge role in City’s success.
Under the tournament slogan – It’s Coming Home- however, every last fan got behind the team as they showed promise of finally replicating 1966’s success. Well, the dream was not to be – ending at the semi-final stage- but there was no blame to be apportioned by the fans.
In Rugby, Bath and Leicester Tigers’ fans almost never see eye to eye on matchdays. But wait until the Three Lions take on Wales in a national test. You wouldn’t be able to pick fans of either club once they don those beautiful rose-embossed shirts.
The national sports’ unifying factor does not just end at team sports. Individual icons also spark a thrill of patriotism among sports fans. Whenever Mo Farah took to the athletic track, he had Britons from across the country on the edges of their seats and beaming with pride. Today, everyone agrees that Mo was rightfully knighted and he is still a symbol of English unity.
Ask around and you will realize just how proud British Grand Prix lovers are to be associated with one Lewis Hamilton. The ever-smiling Lewis is always doing business on the winding tracks and, at the same time, charming English hearts in equal measure.
Britain has always been a sporting nation, so it is little wonder that fans espouse so much loyalty for different disciplines. What remains wondrous, however, is their ability to shed club rivalry and get behind even their greatest tormentors when it is time for national assignments.