17/06/2016 06:44 BST | Updated 17/06/2017 06:12 BST

Never Tickle the Tummy of Northern Ireland's Underdog

Do not write off the Northern Irish. With more people working on Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland than for the Civil Service, they know all about pulling the unexpected from the fire and coming back from the dead.

Just like in Westeros, when you think someone's down, they suddenly take another breath, wonder where they are and pour another drink.

As a small country, Northern Ireland have to punch above their weight. They once built the largest ship in the world, the Titanic, which, OK, didn't go so well. It did score big on romance and legend, though. So kudos, disaster boat builders.

If anything's unsinkable it's the spirit of the Green and White Army. They'll be joyous whatever happens this summer. You have to look on the bright side with all that rain. If you don't like the weather in Northern Ireland, wait five minutes. Don't wait too long though, or it'll pelt down again.

heavy rain

Norn Iron also has a greater percentage of young people than anywhere else in the UK. Maybe that explains the sunny outlook. They have more to look forward to, or at the very least, longer to look forward to.

They've only got six counties, bless 'em, yet in the '82 World Cup, they defied all the odds to overcome the host team, Spain, with ten men. Like Spartan warriors, they were. They even reached the quarter-finals in '58.

Having been top of the world in snooker and golf, and with all that glen walking too, they can definitely be classed as good with sticks.

They've had champions in horse racing and motor cycling, so they're fine in the saddle.

Plus, never forget the amount of boxing champions heralding from Northern Ireland. They can settle an argument. They're not just up for the craic, they're up for the challenge.


It's easy to remember Northern Ireland's sporting hell raisers George Best and Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins but their heroes like Joey Dunlop and Barry McGuigan reflect a more big-hearted, kinder people. Anyway, back to Best and Higgins.

Best, like many of us, peaked at about 22. In common with Higgins he was blessed with super skills and charisma but cursed with a terrible thirst. Their stars shone brightly but briefly, whereas most of us go on a lot longer with barely a flicker.

But Northern Ireland's hopes aren't pinned on brilliant mavericks, no matter how much fun they are. They're built on everyone doing their bit for the team, like honeybees, working for their queen. But honeybees in a 4-4-2 formation playing a strong pressing game.

One of Northern Ireland's current heroes is Wigan striker, Will Grigg. As far as we know he's never stepped out with Miss World, unlike Mr Best, but he does have a song in his honour that is conquering the world this year. The chorus goes, 'Will Grigg's on fire, your defence is terrified' and it is maddeningly catchy.

Along with their general warmth, the Northern Irish will be spreading their brand of the English language, with phrases like, "Ach, your man's an eejit." They may also be scundered (annoyed or mystified - possibly both) by some of the referees' decision-making. And if their jalopy is banjaxed they may have to go for a wee dander into town. Good luck to the locals who thought they understood English.