I HAVE always found it amusing the claim by English fans and commentators that a World Cup win would see football “coming home”.

If it were truly “coming home” it would be returning to Scotland not to England , for it was the Scots who truly devised the modern version of the game as we know it. Without our civilising intervention, what England might have given the world was just another version of rugby.

When the so-called Football Association was formed at the instigation of a young solicitor from Hull, Ebenezer Morley, what he proposed would be seen now as a basis for rugby with extra violence.

Morley’s draft laws provided that a player could not only run with the ball in his hands but that opponents could stop him by charging, holding, tripping or hacking. A more civilised code did emerge, but the English game was still mainly a question of head-down dribbling.

It was the Scots who had the notion of artfully distributing the ball among the players. It started with young men, from Perthshire and the Highlands mainly, who gathered at Queen’s Park in Glasgow in 1867. They obtained a copy of the FA laws and amended them to conform with an almost scientific blend of dribbling and passing.

When they invented passing, these men had invented football. Far from being an English game, it was one that was conceived to confound the English because the Scots, being generally smaller than their opponents in football’s oldest international rivalry, could hardly afford to take them on physically.

As Scots we can truly feel pride some pride this week as England take on Croatia in the World Cup semi-final. To have the English borrowing our history is quite a compliment, the only downside being that we are not in Russia to share in the glory of our invention of the “beautiful game”.

Alex Orr

BBC2 showed the impressive documentary Piper Alpha – Fire in the Night, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the disaster.

The film was first shown in 2013 in the run-up to the 25th anniversary, and one misleading credit shown at the end claimed that there had “not been another blow-out in the North Sea” since Piper.

This was not true even then. In March 2012 Total had allowed a well on their Elgin complex to blow out.

On both Piper (not a blowout) and Elgin, colossal volumes of gas were allowed to escape at surface. On Piper the gas found a source of ignition with predictable results. On Elgin, because 11 wells had been kept in production during Total’s incompetent attempt to kill the G4 well, a naked flame had also been left burning in the flare stack. Total were then unable to extinguish the flame when gas erupted at surface, and only wind direction and strength stopped gas finding that flame.

The flare burnt as 238 workers were evacuated, and for five days afterwards.

Recently Chris Flint, director of the energy division of the Health and Safety Executive, was quoted as saying: “Every HCR (hydrocarbon release) is a safety threat, as it represents a failure in an operator’s management of its risks. I recognise the steps the industry has taken to reduce the overall number of HCRs, however HCRs remain a concern, particularly major HCRs because of their greater potential to lead to fires, explosions and multiple losses of life. There have been several such releases in recent years that have come perilously close to disaster.”

The Elgin blowout, the biggest HCR on record on the North Sea, was certainly one of those. Chris Flint might want to address why, six years after Elgin, there has still been no attempt by the industry or the regulator to inform the offshore workforce of the lessons that were learnt from it, and what precautions have been put in place to avoid a repeat. Every offshore worker and their family members need to heed his warning and ask how many are “several”, and where and when did these near disasters take place?

Norman Lockhart

I RECENTLY swapped good-natured letters with Premier Inn about the bible on our bedside cabinet when we stayed in St Andrews. A piece of minority religious literature with its well-known litany of anti-scientific, illiberal and anti-gay views did not say welcome to us.

In its apology, the hotel explained that “we pride ourselves on accepting and respecting the variety of religions, ethnicities and sexualities.” If “respect for all religions” were to extend similarly to promoting all their literature there would be no room by the bedside for your alarm clock!

Unlike the new Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, which sensibly decided not to place Gideon bibles in its wards, Premier Inn is a private company and can promote any religious belief it wants.

Maybe it should reconsider its assumption that Christianity is the default for all, and keep its bibles to be supplied on request to those who have forgotten their own?

Neil Barber
Edinburgh Secular Society