Ditto the Greeks (Episkyros) and the Romans (Harpastum).
Variations of football that had evolved long before the Shrovetide kicking of a pig’s bladder that occurred in many a town in Medieval England.
But why let facts get in the way of rewriting history – after all, the nation of England has had plenty of practice at such a craft be the subject sport, politics or history.
Such re-working came back in to our consciousness with the “Football’s Coming Home” mantra being forced down gullets across the UK – regardless if you were in the English zone of this nation or not – as the England team worked its way towards the last four of the World Cup.
To be fair to the team and management itself, with the exception of a couple of players, they were very level-headed and respectful of both the task ahead of them and the teams they would play.
Unfortunately for the reporters, commentators, pundits, interviewers and presenters, such decorum checked out at Heathrow and spent the duration of the tournament on a Canary Island beach – no doubt fancying a hideaway from the hubris about to spew forth from their host(s).
Jingoism 101 was placed on your timetable whether you liked it or not – and if you were Welsh, Scottish or Irish, this was the double-maths class that you wished you could have bunked off from at school had the truant officer not been patrolling the front gate.
Most nations, whether they had qualified for the World Cup or not, had their own TV broadcasters, their own radio stations and their own newspapers covering the event.
Chances are they wouldn’t have been flaunting the overboard patriotism of another nation in front of their viewers, listeners and readers – why would they?
Yet for three nations who are Fifa members, they had to endure the bragging, the boasting, the hype and expectation of another Fifa member – a nation who they have considered a rival since the 1870s.
There were those in Glasgow, Aberystwyth and Derry demanding BBC, ITV and the London-based tabloids give them peace.
Yes those in England are entitled to dream, hope and subsequently celebrate and then dream and hope some more.
It’s just not everybody had those same hopes – or dreams. Why would they? Those from the Celtic fringes of the UK, with the exception of Cornwall, support other nations who play on the international stage.
In fact, they share a local derby rivalry with their fellow partner in the UK that is England.
A match between Scotland and England or Wales and England is the international version of a local derby akin to those enjoyed by football fans at club level.
Celtic v Rangers, Hearts v Hibs, Liverpool v Everton, Arsenal v Tottenham, Newcastle v Sunderland…games with the same intensity and history as Scotland v England and Wales v England.
Imagine being an Everton fan. You turn on the television and it’s wall to wall Liverpool coverage. Switch on the radio and it’s the same. Ditto the newspapers.
The blue half of Merseyside would be peeved at the red half being hyped up. Same if a Newcastle fan received blanket Sunderland coverage for a month – and vice-versa.
This was what it was like to be Scottish, Welsh or Irish during the past month.
Having to hear pundits and commentators constantly glory in England’s success – be it what the current team had been achieving or what happened in 1966 – during games that didn’t even involve England was both peculiar and grating.
Especially when the means for the media organisations to cater for the Celtic nations were available, only not to be utilised.
Why games couldn’t be covered, analysed and commentated on by BBC Scotland and BBC Wales, or STV and ITV Wales is a mystery.
After all, when Croatia were embarking on their run all the way through to the World Cup final itself, do you think their local derby rival, Serbia, was forcing Serb viewers with Croat coverage of games with Croat commentators ramming down Serb viewer throats about how great it was for Croatia to do so well.
No. Not even a chance. The Croat media indulged in the same patriotic hype as England. They openly expressed the same hopes and dreams as England. Only the Croat media kept all of it for a Croatia-based audience. England’s media decided to export it to at least three other footballing nations.
The forced jingoism took a nasty turn when pundits south of the Tweed and east of Offa’s Dyke were demanding to know why the uppity Celts were not backing their beloved England. Some even going as far to call said Celts racist without even considering that it was just football rivalry that led to an “Anyone But England” attitude.
After all, when Celtic reached the Uefa Cup final in 2003, you can bet your bottom dollar that Rangers fans were relieved that their rivals lost to Porto.
The reverse would have been the same when Rangers reached the 2008 Uefa Cup final with many a Celtic fan exhaling after Zenit St Petersburg defeated their old foes.
Yours truly can recall walking down a Tyneside street on the morning of the Sunderland v Liverpool FA Cup final of 1992 and seeing a huge banner underneath a window that read: “Ho’way Liverpool – beat the Mackems. Love NUFC”.
A Hearts fan would not want Hibs to win the league title if they were in a position to in the last day of the season, but chances are, he wouldn’t want Easter Road to be burnt.
Neither would a Scotland fan want the same fate for Wembley Stadium. Even if his rival losing a game of football to 'Jibrovia' would raise a titter.
Scotland fans hailing Croatia’s Mario Mandžukić for his goal to knock England out of the World Cup semi-final may seem petty but that’s football rivalry.
Just as Hibs fans hailed Dundee’s Albert Kidd and made him their player of the year because his two goals in the last seven minutes of the 1985/86 season stopped their rivals Hearts from winning the title.
It’s football rivalry. Petty, highly amusing and applied to the boot of either foot of the two dogs involved.
Tottenham fans laugh at an Arsenal humiliation and vice-versa. But the latter’s Emirates Stadium has not been wiped out nor has the former’s construction of the new White Hart Lane been uprooted.
“You’re just bitter,” says Dave from Luton.
Yes we are. We're peeved at not qualifying.
“You’re just jealous,” says Barry from Ramsgate.
Got it in one mate – we wish we were there, let alone be semi-finalists.
“We’d support you if you were in our position,” says George from Southend.
Would you now?
It’s June 1996 and both England and Scotland are in action in the final group games of their European Championship pool.
Both are winning 1-0 at half-time against Holland and Switzerland respectively. Then England catch fire and destroy the Dutch after the interval to go 4-0 up.
All of a sudden, England are doing Scotland a favour. As it stands, England would top the group and Scotland would qualify with them thanks to their old rival damaging the goal difference of Holland.
Then the Dutch score. Scotland either need to get a second against the Swiss (which they fail to despite laying siege to the opposing goalkeeper) or for England to get a fifth goal to tip the goal difference scales back in the Scots’ favour.
However, the England team cannot add to their total and a chant rings out across Wembley from the English fans….
“We’ll never score for Scotland, we’ll never score for Scotland!”
We’re your rivals just as much as you are ours.
Long may it continue.