By Oliver Farrimond
A SONG that has been branded “racist” and “a dirge” has been selected as Scotland’s anthem for the Commonwealth Games.
Team Scotland will be going for gold in Delhi this summer to the sound of “Flower of Scotland” after the anthem was voted in ahead of “Scotland the Brave” by athletes.
The rousing anthem already features at Scots football and rugby matches, and famously celebrates Scotland’s bloody defeat of England at the Battle of Bannockburn at 1314.
However the song is widely perceived to be anti-English and many prominent Scots sportsmen have, in the past, criticized the song.
Two years ago George Peat, president of the Scottish football association, labeled the song a “dirge”.
He said: “At Hampden it is reasonable, but when we go abroad, it is embarrassing.
“It is played at about a third of the speed it should be, and the fans end up four or five bars ahead.”
And last summer, Scots rugby legend Finlay Calder slammed the anthem, branding it “appalling”.
He said: “It is embarrassing, the anti-English stuff has to stop.
“It is appalling the way we host our English competitors – before we can go forward we have to grow up a bit.”
The tune replaces “Scotland the Brave”, which has accompanied Scots athletes to the Commonwealth Games for more than 50 years.
Team Scotland voted for the change during training camp at Stirling University, with “Flower of Scotland” the overwhelming choice, taking 211 of the 226 votes.
A spokesman for Team Scotland said: “Everyone watched a sporting montage before the vote to envisage how the song will sound when played at medal ceremonies.
“We are delighted there was such an overwhelming result – it’s clear the athletes wanted change.”
And Tam Ferry, spokesman for the Association of Tartan Army Clubs, welcomed the move.
He said: “It is good to see the athletes have chosen a song the majority of people consider to be the country’s national anthem anyway.
“I think this goes to show just how well thought-out the song is, and how much it means to us.”
The controversial decision to adopt the anthem comes largely as a result of Scotland not having her own official national anthem, meaning that individual sports teams must choose their own.
In 2006, serving First Minister Jack McConnell called for a public debate on a Scottish national anthem, but MSPs rejected the plan.