Football should bring people together, leave the hatred on the pitch
SOMETIMES, I hate being a football fan.
It’s nothing to do with years of heartbreak, dozens of disastrous defeats, hatfuls of soul-destroying last minute goals. None of that.
It’s because of fellow football fans. You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Well, you can choose your football club but you can’t choose the morons you share your passion with.
On Monday morning, we all woke to the news that the Liam Whelan Bridge in Cabra had been vandalised. For those that don’t know, Liam Whelan was a rising star of the game for Manchester United and the Republic of Ireland when, at 22, he and seven of his team-mates were tragically killed in the Munich air disaster of 1958.
In his honour, a railway bridge near to Dalymount Park was named after him due to the fact that Whelan had grown up in nearby St. Attracta Road. It was a simple little plaque with a whole lot of meaning.
Well, at some stage on Sunday night/Monday morning, someone decided to deface the plaque which was there to pay tribute to a man whose life was tragically cut short. As well as covering the plaque itself with spray paint, the scumbag(s) scrawled “Munich Bastard” across the bridge, with “LFC” dancing on the top for good measure.
For many people, this was an act of pure evil and was completely vile. But for some, this was an opportunity to start slinging mud. They opted to ignore the majority of the heinous act, and instead opted to focus on the fact that it was obviously the twisted work of a Liverpool fan or fans.
Whether this was a Liverpool fan, a Bray Wanderers fan or a Harchester United fan is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that someone disgustingly disgraced a bridge dedicated to Liam Whelan, who still has siblings living in the area.
The grandson of Whelan’s brother gave an insight into the effect it had on his family as he tweeted: “The actions of pure scumbags has left my grandad, a man well into his 80s, distraught. A day like today makes me so ashamed to be Irish.”
With those 27 words, he hit the nail on the head. They’re scumbags first and foremost but irrelevant of what football team they cheer for at the weekend, they’re most probably Irish.
Sharing a love for a football team in no way makes people the same. I’m a Liverpool fan. So are Chris de Burgh and LeBron James. Believe it or not, the three of us don’t have much in common.
Liam Whelan died in a tragic accident. Thousands died in another disaster; 9/11. I can never picture anyone ever besmirching a tribute to a 9/11 victim but, somehow, these scumbags think that because he played for a certain football team and they support a different team, they’re entitled pour scorn on his honour in such a disgusting way.
Football should bring people together, not provide reasons for hatred. Leave the rivalry on the pitch. On a weekend when such wonderful tributes were paid to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, one lowlife piece of crap (apologies for the language but it is completely justified) took something like the Munich disaster and used it as a rod to beat Manchester United fans with.
They mocked death. They used it to score points. But football doesn’t come into this. This person or these people are not football fans. They’re scum and they’re thugs and I pray that they are found, named and shamed, and punished.
By Monday evening, the majority of the graffiti had been cleaned or covered up. Bohemians fans had rallied and pooled together to restore some pride for the Whelan family.
Nothing will bring Liam Whelan back but he is probably smiling up in heaven knowing that there are still some good people out there.
Football fans get a bad press but as with all walks of life, it is a tiny majority that earn them their poor reputation.
Liam Whelan died in the Munich disaster and was then used as a pawn in a pointless and vile war between thugs. But football fans answered the call and Whelan can now once again rest in peace.
Sometimes, I love being a football fan.