By now, I’m sure that you’ll have seen the furore that has arisen as a result of Alan Davies’ comments on Liverpool’s refusal to play on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. And while the matter itself is very complex, the way that it’s been dealt with by fans and the media alike is so utterly frustrating that it deserves further insight. But first…… *goes to fetch nuclear grade tin hat*
I listen to Davies’ podcast every week. I am a fan of his work. But it’s always important to note that he is a professional comedian and his whole way of life is based on provoking a response from a crowd. So to hear him be as outspoken on such a topic is unsurprising, as it’s how he speaks in public. Could he have phrased his comments differently? Perhaps. Hindsight is 20/20, and we’ve all said things in the heat of the moment that we instantly regret.
But here’s where I have a problem with the reaction to his outburst; what he said had NOTHING to do with Hillsborough. In fact, the only time he refers to what happened on that fateful day, is when he calls it ” the worst event in modern peacetime history”. Not exactly the stuff of scandal, that. No, it’s his criticism of Liverpool’s refusal to play on the anniversary of Hilllsborough that has provoked the masses on Merseyside to aim their ire at him.
Now, it is totally understandable that Liverpool fans’ reaction to criticism of the club’s response to the tragedy would be one of dismay, after all, their work towards raising funds for the families and raising awareness towards the aim of clearing the names of those so horribly besmirched by the police, the government and sections of the media, is to be applauded. The events of April 15, 1989 should never be forgotten, and any attempt to commemorate the memories of those who lost their lives should be embraced by all of football, not just Liverpool. And if Liverpool are uncomfortable with playing on April 15, then that’s fine, barring any exceptional circumstances that make this unworkable. Unfortunately, 2012 has brought up these circumstances.
Chelsea are in a fixture log-jam at the moment. Their next four games are Spurs (N), Barcelona (H), Arsenal (A) and Barcelona (A), all of which take place in the space of only eight days. Pushing back the Spurs game by 24 hours would give them a little bit of breathing room and would prevent them from having to rest players from games that will decide their season. But that has been determined by the FA to be impractical. Why? Because Liverpool won’t play on the Sunday, as it’s April 15. Again, their reasons for this are understandable, but on this one occasion, couldn’t they have made an exception?
Think about it. Liverpool vs Everton. At Wembley. If you want to show your determination to get Justice For The 96, then what better stage to do it than in the nation’s capital, in the largest stadium in the country, and within 20 minutes of the houses of parliament, just in case you fancied petitioning the Prime Minister et al in person that day? Isn’t that a better image to portray of the club, as one that works with others to ensure that English clubs can succeed in Europe AND show the world that the lessons of what happened on that awful day have been learned?
But no. Once again, faced with the tiniest scrap of criticism, Liverpool respond with the same petulant arrogance that led to them wearing t-shirts supporting Luis Suarez in the immediate aftermath of his altercation with Patrice Evra. Any and all suggestions that Liverpool Football Club has done anything wrong, on any level, are met with furious rants and ridiculous ripostes. You only need to see one of Kenny Dalglish’s press conferences to experience the level of incredulous disbelief that comes across him when he’s asked even the mildest of questions.
And it’s only natural that the fans of Liverpool will replicate such reactions, such is the high regard that “King Kenny” is held in. And as is the nature of being a football supporter, you often find yourself obligated to defend your club’s “honour” at a moment’s notice. But ever since Man United surpassed their haul of 18 league titles, (and are now closing in on No.20), they’re beginning to run out of material. It’ll be 22 years since they’ve won the league, and they look no closer to ending that drought now than they did since sacking Rafa Benitez. For over 40 years, they’ve been able to lord it over the rest of us, thanks to their incredible success. But those days are over now. And it hurts.
That’s why the famous Scouse humour has been found lacking of late, they don’t find losing to be funny. And that’s fine. As I wrote in last week’s piece, nobody likes to lose, especially me. But it’s the stubborn resistance to accept any blame for what is happening which is so grating to the rest of football fans. Excuse after excuse is wheeled out to bail out the players and its manager, and any attempts to counter those arguments is dismissed as “Anti-Liverpool”, no matter how much logic is involved. This “Us against the World” attitude is unhealthy, it’s arrogant, and it’s unbecoming of a club of Liverpool’s stature. They’re better than that, so is it too much to expect them to act like it for once?
But before I get accused of taking a cheap shot at Liverpool by LFC fans, I’d like to point out this, which was unveiled before the Man City game on Sunday:
I cannot begin to describe how irate I am when I see that. Some mug has decided that he wants his 15 minutes of fame, and instead of trying to come up with a clever pun or song to poke fun at Nasri, he’s decided to be childish and puerile instead, just for added shock value. It’s crass, it’s homophobic (It should be “Petit Pute” as Samir is a bloke. This mug has deliberately decided to add an “e” to make him feminine. Satirical elegance, it isn’t.) and it’s something that, quite frankly, we should be above doing. We made our point at the end of the game by winning it. We don’t need some two bob banner that makes sexist slurs about an ex-player who committed the heinous crime of leaving his job for a better paid one. Why go to the bother of printing up such an idiotic sign, when all you need to do is point at the scoreboard once the game is over?
I just hope that this “effort” was just an isolated incident and not a sign of things to come. I don’t want us to become a reactionary, abuse-throwing mob who sees no faults in their club and instead chooses to blame everyone else instead to cover up our own deficiencies. I’m proud that the vast majority of Arsenal fans can have wildly differing views on a range of subjects, yet still carry themselves with class and dignity. If we lose that, then we lose our identity. Playing the Blame Game always leads to the same result:
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