Time For England And The FA To Instigate A Return Of The Home International?

FanCast columnist David Evans has called on the FA to instigate a return of the Home International tournament should both England and Scotland not qualify for the Euro Championship.

Everyone will ramble on about the possible good and the bad points of England’s defeat against Russia, and whether Steve McLaren will or should be sacked  – but most are keeping quiet about the possibility of not having a ‘summer of football’ next year. So what will we all do, watch the other teams as a ‘neutral’ and just enjoy good football?

All we want to do is support our own lads through the highs and lows of an International competition until we finally go out in the Quarter final, (not on penalties please) criticise every player that kicked the ball and argue about the referee disallowing ‘that’ goal. Are we going to all wear tartan and become Scotland fans at Euro 2008, as they currently seem more likely than we are at the moment to qualify next summer?

The answer is simple. If we don’t see a miracle next month with Israel or even Andorra getting a result against Russia and were able to pick ourselves up and get a result against Russia, and the possibility that Scotland may not achieve a more deserving win against Italy we need to consider reviving a competition to keep ourselves busy. Bring back the Home International! This Tournament occurred nearly every year until the early 1980’s, where falling attendances and hooliganism were to blame for its downfall. Here we have a competition which would bring back the sense of national pride and the friendly rivalry between home nations which is what we could do with next summer.

None of our home nations, especially England want to become the team that those who qualified play next Easter as ‘warm up’ matches to Euro 08. Will the team be willing to play, will they have the Spirit and eagerness to impress? Will the fans be bothered to watch, knowing that these games won’t be a preparation for anything? A tournament next summer would be a great chance for England to keep the side that seemed to have gelled together so well over the summer months and have something to aim for, even competing in competitive matches will give the sides a less pressured environment  in preparation for the World Cup qualifications and give managers and players new ideas to use in competitive situations, compared to the scrutiny they are under a Major Tournament.

Since the last few years where home nations have been popping up in each other qualification groups (England, Wales and Northern Ireland for World Cup 06 qualification and recently Wales and Republic of Ireland in the current Euro 08 qualification) the thought of a home nation competition has re-occurred into people’s minds. With the improving play by Northern Ireland in the early days of their qualification campaign and Scotland’s performance this year the group would be a tough test for all, especially England. Who could easily forget England’s defeat to a Northern Ireland Side mostly made up of players outside the premiership who played England out of the park, or indeed the England Scotland clash of the 1960’s when the Scots fans were so proud of their win at Wembley they even broke up the goalposts to take home a souvenirs.

There’s even a petition online as we speak requesting the same tournament:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/home-nations-football-tournament-summer-2008/signatures.html

There has been recent talk of a revival of a Home Nation tournament with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland involved but England to be replaced with Republic of Ireland, to be called the Celtic Cup. But even with the introduction of Republic of Ireland with England to a revived competition, we could see matches which only a few years ago we’d be lucky to get in a friendly. If England are a supposed World Class team we all think we should be this could be a way of showing what were capable of, or for other nations such as Northern Ireland or Wales showing how much they’ve improved over the last few years and try to upstage England.

Let’s face it; we all want to see this. We’d get more excited at the possibility of an England v Scotland match than if England played Brazil. At least for one year only, it would bring out the competitive edge and drive out of all the home nations. England won the home nations 54 times (though it was shared 20 times between teams before 1979 because goal difference wasn’t invented, apparently) and Northern Ireland would go into the competition as defending champions as they were the last to win it on 1984. But to be honest its this, or we’ll all be seeking other exciting ‘entertainment’ from the Big Brother House next summer!