A FEW months ago this newspaper did a rather unusual, and to my mind, extremely amusing thing. It wrote a song and produced a video in support of the city’s two Scottish Premier League football teams who were about to face each other in the Scottish Cup Final for the first time in 116 years.
It was a massive YouTube hit – not least because many of the lyrics gave Scotland’s second city, Glasgow, a gentle joshing. And to give the Glaswegians their due, most took it in the spirit in which it was intended.
The song was based on the Village People’s Go West, retitled Go East – and as such was also a reminder to the blazers in the SFA that Edinburgh could have hosted the Cup Final itself, at Murrayfield Stadium, and saved all the Hearts and Hibs supporters a trek through to Glasgow.
However, while that is now all in the past – the argument about Murrayfield versus Hampden was lost – the sporting rivalry between the two cities has raised its laurel-wreathed head again and the gloves are off.
I can understand the desire among the organisers of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to host a parade of Scottish Olympians in a bid to keep the focus on the 2014 games – and looking further ahead, using it as a boost to the city’s campaign to host the Youth Olympics. I can understand the desire among Glaswegians to show the medal winners such as Sir Chris Hoy, Andy Murray, Katherine Grainger, Michael Jamieson and David Florence how much they appreciate all their efforts – and how much they’re looking forward to seeing them compete in their city in two years.
But those in the Weege who claim that their city is the “home” of Scottish sport, which automatically qualifies it to host any Olympic parade, really need to be taken to task. So here are a half dozen reasons – though I’m sure there are more – why Edinburgh should be hosting the official parade of celebration for all our Scottish Olympic athletes. We’d be quite happy to invite the Commonwealth Games organisers along.
Take heed Mr Salmond. It’s not too late to change your mind.
1. Let’s start with one basic fact: Edinburgh is the CAPITAL city. No matter how much Glasgow wishes that was different, it isn’t, so suck it up. Therefore, when it comes to a national celebration, Edinburgh should be the first port of call. I realise many Glaswegians don’t believe anything exists beyond their city’s boundaries, but the irrefutable geographic fact is there’s a whole country which considers itself to be just as important as Glasgow (though not as important as Edinburgh, obviously).
2. Edinburgh is a much healthier place. We don’t just sit on a sofa stuffing pies and Irn Bru down our gullets we actually go out and DO sport. Which is partly why life expectancy here is far greater than in Glasgow, where the average for a man is just 70 years compared to our 78. Indeed, in Easterhouse – a stone’s throw from where the Commonwealth Games stadium and velodrome are being built – that drops to just 54 years.
OK, there are obviously many people in Glasgow who are sporty. I even know someone who runs for fun, not just because the police are chasing him. And the city is the birthplace of Olympic medallists rower Katherine Grainger and swimmer Michael Jamieson – but even then it was when they were studying in Edinburgh that they began to really develop into the fine athletes they are today.
3. Glasgow likes to boast that it’s the home of sport and especially football because it has Hampden. I’ve never understood that logic as Hearts (Sir Chris Hoy’s team) and Hibs (Andy Murray’s team) were up and running way before Celtic appeared on the footie scene, and Rangers hasn’t been faring too well of late. But let’s give the Weegies Hampden.
We’ve got everything else: Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby; Peffermill, the home of Scottish hockey; Craiglockhart, the home of Scottish tennis; Ravelston, the home of Scottish cricket; Ratho and the International Climbing Arena, and the Commonwealth Pool, which was used as a training pool by TeamGB and will host the Commonwealth Games’ diving competition.
4. Meadowbank. Admittedly the stadium is badly neglected – and its velodrome is in a sorry state – but let’s not forget that this is where TWO Commonwealth Games have been held. Yes, Glasgow, we’ve had it TWICE. We’re delighted that you will be getting in on the act, but Meadowbank has such history.
Even I have run there – and you can’t boast that little known statistic can you Glasgow?
5. The last Olympic parade was held in . . . guess where . . . yes, Edinburgh! After Beijing it was this newspaper, the Edinburgh Evening News, which organised the open-topped bus parade for our Olympic athletes and put the pressure on for a civic reception to be held at Edinburgh Castle.
It was an amazing success. And while I’m sure thousands will turn out in Glasgow, the people of Edinburgh were first to show their overwhelming support. They should get to do so again.
6. Sir Chris Hoy. He is our Greatest Ever Olympian. He has SIX gold medals. You might be naming your velodrome after him (quite rightly), but he learned his stuff here. He is an Edinburgher. Nuff said.