Saturday, 6 September 2008

Divided loyalities

Probably around twenty years ago now, I remember watching the McDonald boys - Andy and Steve - grow up on Coronation Street.

Corrie fans will not need to be reminded, but father Jim was from Belfast and mother Liz from somewhere local to Manchester.

However, both Andy and Steve spoke with thick Mancunian accents. This was not unexpected as they both grew up there, went to school there and all the rest.

But, to this day, I can clearly recall saying to myself, "if I ever live, get married and have kids in England, I'll make sure they speak like me."

As fate would have it, I am now resident in this wonderful component part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I have a mouthy English wife and an increasingly gobby little boy.

Having spoken to many people about this, I now accept that the chances of Jamie ending up with a Coleraine lilt to his voice are minimal, "as he'll copy kids at school and there aren't likely to be too many kids in his school from Coleraine, are there?" is a fair summary of what people have said. This is both logical and truthful, if a little disappointing.

However, all is not yet lost.

Because whilst I must perhaps admit defeat in my quest for Master While "till speak Norn Iron like," there is no reason whatever why he can't grow up first aware and later proud of his roots in "the wee country."

Vanessa and I are taking him on his first trip there this time next week.

But before then, the Northern Ireland football team has two World Cup qualification matches and I think it's only right he watches them - starting at 4.30 this afternoon when Nigel Worthington's men kick off their campaign in Slovakia.

And as luck would have it, the country of his birth begin their game away to against Andorra at 7pm, thereby ensuring the White boys can watch both matches.

Unfortunately Wednesday is more problematic as England's game in Croatia is due to kick-off just 15 minutes before Northern Ireland's home match against the Czech Republic.

With Jamie as yet unable to operate a remote control, I reckon a "compromise solution" will be reached where we'll concentrate on Northern Ireland but flick over during breaks in play to see how David Beckham's latest hairstyle is coping in the wind.

But the years ahead could prove more challenging for me as I seek to remind my boy of his Ulster roots - and the need to turn over to Sky Sports 2.

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