Thou­sands did it right at An­field – yet the mo­ronic few who did it WRONG still stole all the head­lines

Midweek Sport - - THURSDAY SEPT 27 -

IT was scripted as the week­end that football would grow up. The songs about dead fans, football sta­dium dis­as­ters and plane crashes would stop and a football ri­valry billed as Bri­tain’s bit­ter­est would be­come a tiny bit sweeter.

It was a big ask. A mi­nor­ity of Liver­pool and Manch­ester United fans have been trad­ing the sick­est of in­sults for decades, be it re­lat­ing to Hills­bor­ough, Hey­sel or the Mu­nich air dis­as­ter.

The vast ma­jor­ity of sup­port­ers of those two clubs haven’t taken part in this trou­bling game of dis­as­ter Top Trumps. That con­tin­ued to be the case on Sun­day de­spite what some in the me­dia would have you be­lieve.

The game be­tween the North West ri­vals was Liver­pool’s first chance to ac­knowl­edge the land­mark mo­ment that the world woke up to the truth about Hills­bor­ough.

That the mo­ment came against United was manna from heaven for the shit­stir­rers among the me­dia, of which there are many.

For a week, it was end­lessly dis­cussed – can the fans put the bit­ter­ness aside to show their re­spect to some­thing much deeper than football ri­valry?

In a week that deep-rooted cor­rup­tion and an or­ches­trated smear cam­paign against football fans was ex­posed, you’d think there would be more press­ing is­sues to dis­cuss. s it was, fans filed into a som­bre An­field know­ing that just a hand­ful of mo­rons among the 44,263 present could make the doom-mon­gers’ day by shout­ing or singing the wrong thing. So it proved. Mu­nich was never ref­er­enced, ex­cept by the United fans who sang: “Where’s your fa­mous Mu­nich song?”

The more offensive “Al­ways the vic­tim, it’s never your fault” and “Mur­der­ers” came later from some sup­port­ers in an away end con­tain­ing

A2,700 fans in re­sponse to a cou­ple of id­iots try­ing – and suc­ceed­ing – to wind them up with air­plane ges­tures.

And so that’s been the fo­cus. Again and again footage has been shown on Sky Sports, while it’s a topic that has been ham­mered re­lent­lessly by those shouty mo­rons on TalkSport.

Any­thing for a bit of con­tro­versy, it seems.

What about the good stuff? Where’s the bal­ance? The con­text? One of the lead­ing Manch­ester United fanzines,

called for calm and re­spect to be shown be­fore the game.

Other United sup­port­ers de­liv­ered talks on coaches headed for An­field to spread a sim­i­lar mes­sage. nd many United fans paid their re­spects to the 96 who died at Hills­bor­ough by ty­ing shirts and scarfs to the Shankly Gates and lay­ing trib­utes at the memo­rial on An­field Road.

Inside the ground, the United end ap­plauded the ‘Jus­tice for the 96’ song that rang around the ground be­fore kick-off, while the Manch­ester United team ran out at An­field wear­ing track­suits with 96 on their backs.

There was plenty of mu­tual re­spect on dis­play – but that doesn’t make for a good story, does it?

The Liver­pool and Man United fan base were both col­lec­tively smeared – the Mancs for their chants, the Scousers for the two tools who tweeted ref Mark Halsey with sick stuff about can­cer. It’s ironic that thou­sands of fans are hav­ing their rep­u­ta­tion painted black for the ac­tions of a few when that very prob­lem was a con­trib­u­tory fac­tor to the Hills­bor­ough dis­as­ter.

Then – in the 80s – it suited to treat fans as a prob­lem, as thugs.

Now, well we should have moved on from these sweep­ing gen­er­al­i­sa­tions, shouldn’t we?

It’s a dan­ger­ous game and those stir­ring the pot should know bet­ter.


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