England v Scotland: Divided couples have haircuts and bragging rights at stake
Couples divided by England-Scotland loyalties will enter unfamiliar territory on Friday when their sides meet in a major tournament for the first time in 25 years.
The teams will go head to head in their Euro 2020 Group D clash at Wembley, with one England fan – married to a Scotland fan – describing the game as “a blessing and a curse”.
Football’s oldest international rivalry will pit club colleagues against one another, but it could also test relationships.
Chris Millen, 37, from Livingston, and his wife Laura Millen, 38, from Mansfield, live in Ipswich and will be watching the game together.
“(I’m) really excited because this is the first time competitively in my adult life Scotland will play in an actual tournament,” Chris told the PA news agency.
“For them to be drawn against England … yeah, it’s a kind of surreal feeling. I don’t think I’ll properly know how to feel or react until tomorrow.”
Laura added: “It’s a blessing and a curse because obviously I support Scotland unless they’re playing England – to hit each other in the group stages is quite interesting.
“We met in Scotland. So I’ve always been a big advocate for Scotland to qualify into a tournament.”
Laura described the mood as a “friendly rivalry at the moment”, adding “we’ll see on Friday”, while Chris said his wife has not missed the chance to mention Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall’s role in the Czech Republic’s wonder-goal on Monday.
“Laura has been very, very strong on the David Marshall memes to me, very strong,” he said of the memes showing Marshall falling into the net. “But that’s to be expected.”
The Nottingham Forest fans, who met during Euro 2004 at a nightclub, will watch the game together at a local social club, where Chris is expecting to be the only Scotland supporter.
“I imagine I’ll be the only one,” he said. “So once the scoreline comes in, which I expect – not hope – I expect England to romp home, I think for the hour after that I’ll take a faint ribbing.”
“But obviously you’re going to turn up in your Scotland top regardless?” asked Laura.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be there, Braveheart, everything, the flag… if I had face paint that’d be on!” said Chris.
Meanwhile, James Brown, 24, from Middlesbrough and Jade Hamilton, 28, from Carnoustie, will be watching the game at James’s family home.
The pair met at university and have already enjoyed a Scotland-England rivalry in that time.
“I was quite focused on the Six Nations, so I was on quite a high – Scotland had beaten England,” Jade told PA. “And then (James) was like ‘Yeah, but we’ve got the Euros!'”
James added: “So I’m hoping England can get one over this time so it’s back to one-one, (and) there’s no bragging rights in the house!”
While Jade will watch the game in an England-supporting house, the couple are optimistic that the atmosphere will be relaxed.
“My house is a pretty calm house to be honest,” said James. “As much as we all love football, I don’t think it would ever get argumentative, but it could be a bit tense.
“I think there’ll be a bit of banter … but I’m looking forward to it to be honest.”
Jade continued: “You have to have a bit of a sense of humour about it as well, it’s competitive but if you can’t have a laugh and a joke about it at the end, then what’s the point?
“Someone’s got to lose and I feel like I’ll take it better than if England lose.”
“Well, you’ll have to!” said James.
Jade picked out England’s Phil Foden as one of the players she fears while James said Scotland’s Andy Robertson has been one of the best left-backs in the world recently.
Meanwhile the pair also have a couple of bets riding on their dream outcomes, with Jade saying she stands to win “about £10,000” as the result of a bet on Scotland to win the tournament, while James has his sights on something else.
“If England win it and Scotland get past the group stage, I’m going to get my hair cut like Phil Foden,” he said of the midfielder’s Paul Gascoigne trim. “And she’s not allowed to dump me!”