I don’t suppose the Londoners were too bad, although one doesn’t excuse the Chelsea Nazi salute captured in the News of the World, nor the usual, petulant bad-loser histrionics from the Special One.
But it’s the same disgusting stuff every time with the loveable Liverpudlians: at full-time, the Liverpool-end is all broken toilets and washbasins, spittle-covered local stewards, and graffiti of the most stomach-churning kind to do with Munich and Harold Shipman.
The Scousers’ obsession with celebrating the latter’s penchant for murdering Mancs was pleasingly brought to wider public attention on Sunday, when all three of our best-selling tabloids ran a story about Wayne Rooney’s brother being captured on mobile phone footage singing Shipman songs. That story made it into print because it’s just about one individual. But the pictures on United websites of the damage done by the Scousers at O.T. might never make it into print because the English media are exceedingly reluctant to publish anything that might be taken in Liverpool as being generalised ‘anti-Scouseness’.
This is what happened when United fans at the recent Cup-tie were covered in human excrement, thrown at them from the upper-tier of the Anfield Road-end. Scouse fans furiously denied it happened and there was silence from the local police — all Scouse cops, of course. No newspaper would touch the allegations: one news desk told me that to print something like that “would guarantee hundreds of angry Scousers writing, phoning and emailing” and it just wasn’t worth the bother.
In the end, the Guardian bravely published the truth: and Liverpool Football Club, to their credit, held their hands up and condemned their simian fans for their behaviour. We have since been contacted by fans of three other clubs who had the same experience when visiting Anfield, and, similarly, got nowhere when trying to gain recompense, an apology or even an acknowledgment that such bestial behaviour had occurred.
Now then: I don’t know about you, but I find the hurling of excrement to be possibly the lowest thing in a stadium. For some reason, it seems even worse than the stuff you’d see chucked in the 70s — darts and coins at Anfield, half-bricks at Cardiff. Then again, I do know that Koppites used to urinate in the pockets of unsuspecting fellow supporters, when caught short and desperate, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.
Naturally, I know cultured gents like the always-delightful Mr Kelly would be the first to condemn his comrades — and doubtless he’d have his own allegations about United supporters’ past misdeeds to hand, if he wanted to argue the toss. So, in that case, let this apply to all fans: every time we behave like this, we take ten steps back as a class of people, wiping out whatever small progress we may have made over the season. Every time some Huyton cretin craps on an away supporter, he is basically crapping on himself, too.
For example, any chance of being treated as a citizen rather than an animal when on Euro-aways — a key demand for all supporters at top clubs — disappears when we act like this. And yet the Scousers appear deaf to the irony that their noisy campaign to free Michael Shields continues to be blighted by other fans’ and citizens’ indifference, an attitude more easily adopted by them because they have seen what some Scousers can be like when they are on their travels or ‘defending Anfield’, as they would doubtless put it. When being proud to be masters of one’s own patch mutates into attacking ambulances containing severely injured opposition players, a line is clearly crossed. Subliminally, many people will think of Shields, and, instead of seeing a poor innocent being abused by a callous quasi-Third World legal system, will picture a hideous scally hurling crap or shouting ‘die, Smith, die’. Sometimes, you wish organised Scousedom would do a little less whingeing and green-ink letter-writing to newspapers and make time for a tad more self-examination.
What HAS been impressive is that Liverpool Football Club itself responded well to some of these outrages, and I have no doubt they will do so again when the vandalism is eventually reported to them.
I hate to admit it, but LFC more often than not put other clubs to shame when it comes to behaving with an eye to something more than immediate short-term gain. As I have written before, much as I hate Liverpool and loath the lumpenproletarian elements of their support, I cannot help but have grudging respect for the Old School, be they the suits behind the scenes who seem to understand their club’s culture and history, or the clued-up fans who use their wit and intelligence to banter — with sometimes painful efficiency — up and down the East Lancs Raod. Proper rivals: a proper rivalry.
So it is with some alarm that I view what looks to be their imminent takeover, having seen what happens to most noble football institutions sold to outsiders. As I write this on Monday, I even hear that — gulp — Messrs Magnier, McManus and co. are being drawn into the frame, by journalists in any event. Liverpool as a glorified ‘horse’ on which to have a Cubic punt?
Ugh: it ruined United; genuinely, Mr K, I hope that fate doesn’t befall you too.