I’ll preface this by declaring my first-hand awareness of how it is on Merseyside. This isn’t written from the perspective of some imbecilic cockney who’s only experiences of Liverpool have been from watching football matches and Harry Enfield sketches. I had the misfortune to spend 2 years living in a pretty decent spot in Wallasey, popping occasionally into both the down at heel Birkenhead and the rather more refined Heswell as well as frequenting Liverpool itself at least twice week.
The following is an exercise for me in selecting what to leave out of a piece of prose that has a voluminous amount of background material. Let’s settle for some edited highlights.
What the The Sun newspaper got away with, aided and abetted by corrupt officials is a matter of particularly despicable record.
So why then was The Sun still sold in the city centre in numerous outlets? The common trick was to have the pile turned face down but it was still sold openly. I used to walk up Bold Street towards the bombed out church and pick up all the newspapers before sending out prompts to football interns in a former existence. There was a nice bar off a side street I particularly favoured. They had Ashai on draft. Bliss.
So why then were Sky football matches broadcast illegally from dodgy digital boxes in pubs – even city centre pubs – when if the contempt for Murdoch was legitimate there were always other channels available?
The answer to both of these questions is that was all about manipulating situations.
Up there, there is an endemic ‘pity me – and what can get out of being pitied’ culture that one can only believe existed well before Hillsborough occurred.
I was on a bus going into Liverpool once and two lads who had been at school together bumped into each other for the first time in a decade. They were catching up and one said that his last job was working for some company or other up until the previous summer. The other chipped in, ‘They went bust and you was (sic) laid off?’ It emerged he had simply been fired for theft. The point of this anecdote is NOT to portray all Scousers as chancers; rather to highlight the very widespread default setting that they as a breed are forever fighting wave after wave of injustice.
Outside of football, one’s parameters of grief are frankly infinite. There is so much broken and awful with the world, if you really do need to cling onto misery there’s so much death and debris about you really have to compete in order to make any Top 10.
Just within the confines of football 56 died and 265 were injured in the Bradford City fire of 1985. Yet it this gets close to zero media attention. Who reading this was aware it was on May 11th of ’85? No, me neither.
The Heysel Stadium riots claimed 56 lives. Does anyone reading this know what date that ‘anniversary’ is commemorated? No me neither.
Last night, a sizeable number of Liverpool fans took time out form playing the Grief Junkie Card to attack and effectively destroy the Manchester City team coach. This video footage os from a press Association journalist.
— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) April 4, 2018
Merseyside Police are conducting enquiries to identify those responsible for throwing objects at the bus, while Liverpool have condemned the attack and vowed to support City in establishing the facts of what occurred.
Match Commander Superintendent Paul White said: “We are aware that damage was caused to the Manchester City team bus as it approached Anfield stadium ahead of the Liverpool v Manchester City match.
“Thankfully no-one on the bus was injured, but injuries were caused to two of our officers when projectiles were thrown towards the bus. The officers and stewards are there to protect the public and keep them safe.
“This behaviour by a number of people who threw bottles, cans and pyrotechnics towards the bus is completely unacceptable and we will conduct enquiries to identify who was responsible and bring them to justice. We worked very closely with both clubs to ensure the safety of the public and the teams themselves, and it is disappointing to see that a number of people behaved in this appalling way.”
Press Association Sport understands UEFA’s disciplinary body is awaiting reports before deciding whether to open a case.
Despite the attack on the bus taking place in the streets surrounding Anfield, there is scope for European football’s governing body to take action should it deem that to be an area the host club are in control of.
Article 16 of UEFA’s regulations about order and security at matches states “host clubs and national associations are responsible for order and security both inside and around the stadium before, during and after matches.
“They are liable for incidents of any kind and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives unless they can prove that they have not been negligent in any way in the organisation of the match.”
This is in a city that courts sympathy ad infinitum upon precisely THIS issue. This is from a fanbase that has grieved publicly on an unprecedentedly industrial scale because of negligence at a football match.
This is from a fan base that absolutely will, whether it is acknowledged or not, hold a monumental amount of sway when the issue of Safe Standing comes to being green-lighted or not across the Premier League.
Surely it is time for Liverpool fans to acknowledge that when it comes to lessons having been learned, they themselves are not wholly trustworthy in this arena. They are no longer the arbiters of ethics when it comes to the endangerment of human life at a football match.
The Manchester City bus was burned out. There is no, ‘yeah but…’