Spirit of Shankly wins the day af­ter Tom jnr’s ‘hick-up’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODWINES -

WITHOUT a ball be­ing kicked, a sec­tion of Liver­pool’s fans will re­mem­ber Jan­uary 10 as the date of yet an­other fa­mous victory in An­field’s long, il­lus­tri­ous his­tory. As one put it: “One down. Three to go.”

Even in an era when fans are left feel­ing like lit­tle more than cash-cows, milked by re­mote for­eign own­ers, with no say in their club’s fu­ture, the de­par­ture of Tom Hicks Jnr from Liver­pool’s board af­ter send­ing an ob­scene email to a fan which read, “Blow me, ****face. Go to hell. I’m sick of you”, the pub­lic can have an ef­fect, it seems.

Just as the Premier League has given rise to a sense of im­po­tence among fans, so it has mo­bilised them as never be­fore.

Fans left feel­ing iso­lated from in­creas­ingly dis­tant clubs have or­gan­ised them­selves. The in­ter­net has spawned vol­umes of rebel groups, none more so than at An­field.

It is here that some dis­tress en­ters the equa­tion.

Hicks Jnr’s de­par­ture was not en­gi­neered by a mass show of strength from the stands.

Rather, it em­anated from Spirit of Shankly, the club’s sup­port­ers’ union, a highly or­gan­ised group who picked up Hicks Jnr’s slip of the thumb, alerted the me­dia, pre­pared state­ments and quickly brewed the storm. Within hours, the fans had spo­ken.

Or so it ap­peared. To many Liver­pool fans, SOS no more speak for them than knee-jerk callers to tele­vi­sion and ra­dio phone-ins.

They are the mouth­piece for the vo­cal mi­nor­ity. They only pre­sume to echo the thoughts of the si­lent ma­jor­ity. Their leaflets are ig­nored. Their protests at­tract, at most, a few thou­sand.

At El­land Road this sea­son, the trav­el­ling fans cheer­fully baited Leeds fans with the name of Peter Rids­dale. The irony was lost on them.

The ma­jor­ity of fans, like Liver­pool’s own­ers, dis­miss SOS as an ex­trem­ist hard-core, un­elected, un­ac­count­able, and one that has no man­date to de­mand the res­ig­na­tion of direc­tors or the de­par­ture of own­ers.

All that mat­ters to most, as else­where, is what hap­pens on the pitch.

Any­one who dis­agrees is viewed as an ob­ses­sive crank.

That is al­ways the per­cep­tion of fans’ groups, whether at New-

OFF­SIDE: Liver­pool co-owner Tom Hicks and son Tom Hicks Jr, who is no longer on the Liver­pool board af­ter send­ing an of­fen­sive email.

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