For The Love Of God, Just Stop.

I don’t like writing these types of articles. Most articles I write on this site will have some form of humour, because I think no matter your opinions on ‘football, tv, music, life’, there’s a humour to be found in most things, even if it’s just in the way you express yourself. I know I have a great time writing my predictions every week for the NFL, because regardless of how I might feel about my team or its rivals, do I actually wish to see harm to them? Nah, and I probably don’t think Daniel Jones has the arm of a water pistol either. It’s humour. It’s fun. Living in these updated Handmaid’s Tale type times, we need that. I have fun writing stuff for this site. I’ve only just begun and I hope I continue doing it.

Today’s not an article dripping in humour or happiness. It doesn’t even have any of my sarcastic asides. This is an article of anger. Perhaps not anger, actually – maybe just weariness.

Ultimately, I’m sick of football. I’m sick of it’s fans. I’m sick of the social media discourse around it – and very conscious that I’m adding to it here. I’m tired of the poison at the heart of football. The strange thing is, it’s not what people would normally consider it to be. It’s not oligarchs, Super Leagues, state-run sportswashing, or anything else, that I’m going to rant on today. There’s a more present threat to the game.

It’s this shit.

It’s not just that. It’s ‘The Sun was right, you’re murderers’. It’s ‘what about Heysel’. It’s booing minutes silences. It’s ‘Munich’. It’s ‘who’s that lying on the runway’. It’s ‘without killing anyone, we won it three times’ (sung by United players on the pitch at times). Or ‘always look out for Turks wielding knives’, or any of the other millions of chants. It’s fence-pushing gestures. All of the above, and more.

Full disclosure. I’m a Liverpool fan. I’ll make no bones about it in any article I write or anything I say on here. Does that cause me to lose some objectivity when it comes to analysing football? Maybe. But this isn’t football. This is petty pointscoring by the lowest members of society. It’s not right whichever club does it and for whatever reason. You’d think this would be an easy thing for people to figure out. Sadly, in todays social media, clickbait-dominated, world, it seems not. I write this today as a football fan, and a Liverpool fan. I’m probably more aware of what’s said to them than any other club, but I know enough about what’s sang at other clubs to comment on the practice as whole. By the way, no, I don’t think, for the avoidance of doubt, it’s any more right when a Liverpool fan does it to another club, so spare me any of that whataboutery and pearl-clutching.

However, while this has been on my mind for a while, I have to be honest; I’m writing, largely, in response to yesterday’s events. Liverpool were subjected to yet more chants about Heysel and Hillsborough as well as the vandalism shown above. Never mind, however, for the world’s foremost sports journalists have an explanation:

Simon Stone, BBC.
Paul Hirst, Times.

Let’s ignore for a second that these are Manchester-based journalists (I’m not sure it’s relevant and I hope it isn’t) – if I was a paid journalist, I would be absolutely fucking embarrassed to have that against my name. Are these people serious? Chants about deaths at a football match are abhorrent, regardless of a ‘manager’s comments’ or a bottle of Kopparberg thrown at a bus, or a spitting incident that never actually happened. It’s not justifiable. It has never been, it will never be. We can examine Klopp’s ‘xenophobia’ (answering a journalist’s question and not mentioning nationality or country) at another date. But right now, let’s focus on the chants about deaths.

There are those that would tell me ‘it’s football culture’ – to them, I would say, with all due respect, ‘what a load of absolute fucking bollocks’. I grew up around the game. My now-late Grandad was a player, manager, and enthusiast for many years at the grass roots level. My Dad was a player, and such an enthusiast that he cried when he saw me next to him at my first game. It meant something to us. It means something to a lot of people. Football, at it’s base, is a working class sport. It can be poisoned by money, foreign ownership, high ticket prices, TV companies, but at the base of it, it’s a sport enjoyed by working class people. Football culture was, and is, set by us – not by petty point scoring, not by jokes about deaths, not by ‘aye, but you’re worse bigots than us’ bullshit, but by the coming together of thousands towards a common goal. Not just that, but a respect between sides, a respect between fans. An understanding that we all came from the same place, and maybe that could be us out there too. That part of the world has changed, and we’re no longer watching our teams represented by those same working-class people from the areas we grew up in (with the odd exception, the likes of Rashford, Foden, and Trent Alexander-Arnold being breaths of fresh air in the money-dominated age), but we’re still the same people.

At some point – like most things, probably the 80s – this shifted, and it became ‘look at us, we’re better than you’. The Thatcher era in particular seemed to spawn a bunch of Loadsamoney types who were taking the piss out of the disenfranchised under that vile woman. Then, when football became socially acceptable for the cocaine set, it’s continued. There’s still that underpinning base of working class support, but sadly, it seems to have corrupted itself into the Toryfied way of looking at football. On balance, it’s perhaps no surprise we get the governments we do, we get the ignorance from the ruling classes we do, we get sneered at as we do, when people from Manchester are chanting about poverty towards people from Liverpool. It’s perhaps no surprise that the working class can never mobilise and fight for itself, when on Saturdays at 3pm, two sets of fans from ostensibly the same areas with the same problems are pointscoring over the deaths of human beings for 90 minutes. We’re all in the same river of shit. It’s about time we realised it.

Whatever the club and whatever the supposed whataboutery-based reasoning, I cannot understand the mentality of a human being who shows up at a sports match, and win or lose, they chant about the deaths or hardship of other human beings. I can’t understand it. Do the deaths of less children for your team than the other take away the pain of a 2-1 defeat? Does booing a minutes silence for 97 dead people from a similar background to you, who never got the justice they deserved, feed your family? Is your tax going to be lower because you chanted vile shite at your opponents? Is it fuck. You’re all the same, we’re all the same, we all love the sport, and it’s about more than this, or certainly fucking should be.

At various points over the last few years, for a variety of reasons, I’ve felt disillusioned with the game of football, it’s media, and the people within it. None have ever felt as final as today. Liverpool v Man City was a tremendous game of football yesterday, with controversy, atmosphere, and great skill. My team won. I should be made up. Somehow, I’m not. And it angers me. This article will probably be one of the most disjointed and maybe badly written I ever put out – but it’s come purely from anger, rage, and a desire for better. I hope you can see why, but frankly, I almost don’t care if you don’t.

In closing, a message to those thick fuckers doing this: every time you chant about a death, be it from Hillsborough, Heysel, Munich, Bradford, Istanbul, wherever…you make their families relive it. I hope that keeps you warm at night. It could’ve been you but for the grace of God and circumstance. The same’s true of life. Those you think are in poverty, bin dippers, etc etc….it can be you, if things ever go wrong for you. A hearty fuck you, and something to think about.

Til next time.

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