COMMONWEALTH DIARY: England made to feel welcome by Scottish hosts

Sprinter Usain Bolt cheers on the Jamaican netball team

Sprinter Usain Bolt cheers on the Jamaican netball team

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COMMONWEALTH FANS ARE CREATING NATIONAL FEEL

EARLIER in the week, my Echo sports desk colleague Chris Phillips posed the question, could these Commonwealths be labelled as a home games for us English?

Until yesterday, I would have said, without doubt, no. The unique factor about the Commonwealth Games is the fact that the Home Nations go up against each other.

This is common in our country’s most popular sports such as football and rugby but not for our Olympic sports.

And if the football or rugby world cup was held in Glasgow would we call them a home games? Probably not.

But two factors have made me change my mind ever so slightly.

First up is the friendliness of the Scottish hosts. The Commonwealths are described as the “friendly games” and that is certainly true.

Everywhere you go, the Glaswegians are only too happy to stop and chat and welcome you to their city.

This also applies to inside the sporting arenas. Yes, there was a bit of booing when England played the hosts in the rugby sevens, but elsewhere the English have been received rapturously. Not quite to the same decibel level as the Scottish competitors but not far off.

I’ll steer away from politics but suffice to say, I would be surprised if the Scottish independence vote swings in the favour of Alex Salmond. The Scots love us really!

The other factor is the amount of support that has travelled north of the border.

I got the Scot Rail Caledonian sleeper train up from London’s Euston station and it was jam-packed with England fans ready to cheer on their heroes.

The atmosphere was great. It was almost as if people’s Commonwealth experience started then and there on the train.

It was like a little piece of Scotland too. You don’t get haggis, neeps and tatties on the menu down here too often!

Not that many of the English legion heading north sampled that. Most, like me, headed straight to their sleeper cabin to get some shut eye. And the great thing about this train is that you go to sleep and when you wake up you are in Glasgow.

And I think most of the English fans on my train, refreshed by their sleep, went straight on to Hampden Park yesterday. I reckon half the stadium was full of England supporters.

The noise when our own Jess Judd was announced was something she will never ever forget. It sent a shiver down my spine. God knows what it must have been like for Jess stood down on the track.

So, no they are not a home games in the strictest sense of the word, but they are the next best thing.

 

REPORTER RYAN TAKES TO THE TRACK

JUST after Jessica Judd’s 800m race yesterday, a call went round the media room for entrants to the “media mile”.

A quick glance down at my jeans, shirt, casual trainers and Brains-style glasses should have led me to one answer…no.

But how many times in your life will you get to race on the Commonwealth Games track, come on?

Echo:

Ryan prepares for his mile run

Half an hour later as I watched my rivals change into their running vests, put on their spikes and load up their Garmins, I realised I may have made the wrong decision.

Add on top of that the fact I’ve not run for a few months because of shin splints, it dawned on me too late that it wasn’t just a wrong decision, it could prove to be an incredibly embarrassing one!

But there was no going back from there and, as the gun sounded, off I went…very slowly.

I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t a pretty sight and I was doing a great disservice to the great athletes who had been on that track just hours before, but I got round in a not too embarrassing position of eighth in somewhere around seven minutes.

And I’m glad I did it, who else from our fair corner of the county, bar Jessica Judd and Hayley McLean, can say they’ve run on the Commonwealths track? I’m not too sure they’d be too proud of having me join that list, but what the heck!

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