The Scotland national team might’ve fallen at the final hurdle as they looked for more UEFA Nations League glory, but the World Cup can wait; the true victory came a week ago.

After 22 long years in the wilderness, Scotland will be at a major tournament and with the prospect of the Tartan Army travelling to London to play the Auld Enemy England at Euro 2022, the anticipation is already building.

Serbia v Scotland - UEFA EURO 2020 Play-Off Finals

There were jubilant celebrations as Rangers qualified for Euro 2020 after a penalty shoot-out with Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

But between Scotland, Rangers, Celtic and every other team in the country, club loyalties very much tend to die hard.

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Club before country is a cry which can frequently be heard in pubs in every corner of Glasgow, but can qualification for a major tournament help unite a fractured fan base?

There’s something to be said about those Scotland fans who pompously look down on those Rangers fans who turn away from the nation’s football side.

This is often done without any hint of irony, those moral arbitrators of the Lion Rampant not realising that they’re probably one of the biggest parts of the problem.

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They don’t want Rangers fans following Scotland, they don’t want the image they have of the club’s supporters to be dismantled.

If Rangers supporters do want to join this cause, this outspoken crowd want you to repent for your sins first, drunk on Twitter and a skewed interpretation of the politics of the country.

Whilst it’s true some Rangers fans will take an absolute stance on the Scotland national football team which they might not with any other sport, others who want to be a part of the nation’s game often don’t feel welcome to do so.

If it’s not other club fans hiding behind dangerous stereotypes of the Rangers support to exploit their own bigotry or bluster in turning away Rangers fans, it’s the over-politicisation of the support.

If it’s not the constant barrage of criticism levelled at those Rangers-minded players, it’s players from within the squad prodding at those club divisions.

 

Yes, there is a sentiment within the Rangers support which amongst some can be unfairly leveraged against Scotland and the Tartan Army but the suggestion this fractured fanbase is ultimately the fault of one group of fans is a major root of the issue.

A higher percentage of Rangers fans – despite the Ibrox club being the most represented in the Tartan Army – will find the football team more disagreeable than their rugby or curling cousins for a reason.

The notion that this is centred around misplaced Rangers’ staunchness is bitterly lazy, probably insulting and misses the point about the fiery tribalism which exists right across Scotland.

Rangers V Celtic

Politics continues to play a key role in the friction between some Scotland fans and some Rangers fans. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Not that it isn’t also completely valid – one look online will show a raft of Rangers voices in angry dispute with Scottish ones vehemently talking down the country of their birth.

But this club tribalism doesn’t only exist in the Rangers support.

You only need to look at the criticism of Oliver McBurnie, who is the victim of a negative campaign from predominantly Celtic supporting Scotland fans.

Whilst his performances of late might deserve criticism, his attachment to Rangers has made it easier for our eastend neighbours to go way over the top.

Scotland v Slovakia - UEFA Nations League

The OTT criticism of Oliver McBurnie from Celtic circles is evidence of the tribalism which exists within their camp and which seeps into the national team set-up. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Even desperate columns about Scotland owing their qualification to a Celtic side whose dominance has overseen the nation’s worst spell in a generation do little to heal this divide.

These are jabs, not insights, the commentary about Rangers fans supporting England over Scotland not banter, but divisive nonsense with a mean-streak.

Those at smaller clubs are not without their own grumbles – Rangers’ rivalry with Aberdeen apparently reason enough for Scotland fans to boo Ryan Jack – but it perhaps exists on a lower level.

Many fans of other sides focus on the glory of international football (ha!) as an escape from the club game, Rangers and Celtic’s dominance of Scottish football part of the reason why their club rivalry remains so intense.

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Rangers have one first-team player in Ryan Jack who plays regularly with the Scotland national team. Goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin is a back-up goalkeeper with the national side. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Looking ahead now to what promises to be a memorable summer, if Scotland is to unite behind the team, its supporters (of which anyone who comes from the country must surely have a claim to call themselves) have to realise the issues within the fanbase and look at themselves first to mend them.

Yes, Scotland’s qualification can help us heal old wounds, but each supporter needs to ask themselves how we plan on applying the bandage.

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