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By Tony Attwood
I recently commented on the attempts to get rid of the use of the word Yid in association with Tottenham Hotspur.
The Society of Black Lawyers threatened to make a complaint to police over claims that anti-Semitic abuse is taking place at Tottenham Hotspur.
I don’t go to games at Tottenham apart from when Arsenal are there,so I can’t comment in general, but I can say that I heard more use of the word “Yid” at and around this weekend’s match, and saw more violence than I have seen at an Arsenal Tottenham game in years.
Presumably if the Society of Black Lawyers are true to their word the detailed reports will be already in draft form, and action will happen on Monday. Unless the Society of Black Lawyers (I’ll call them The Society from now on, it is shorter) come up with the contrived argument that they only meant to complain about games at the ground in Tottenham High Road and that matches at Arsenal don’t count.
Now of course I am just one person in among around 60,000 who attended the match. I have my own various ways of getting to the ground, and I see only a tiny percentage of the crowd action. But in the Underground system and coming out of Arsenal tube station all one could hear was chants with the word Yid in them. Apart that is, from the “We’ll sing what we want” chant, and come to think of that, that still has the word Yid in it.
As I have mentioned before, hearing the word “Yid” at Arsenal is very rare – there is the short “Yiddo Yiddo Yiddo” heard sometimes at the end of “We hate Tottenham and we hate Tottenham” but this has faded to almost nothing in recent years in home games.
So, although I can’t prove it, I have the clear impression the use of the word was from Tottenham fans. I talked with Stefan who sits next to me in the ground and he said, without my first making the point, that the disturbances that were to be seen on his journey from west London, and the problems felt around the ground were coming from the Tottenham fans.
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Now I have been to 30 or so Arsenal Tottenham games over the years at both grounds, and I can’t recall anything like this for many a long year. I felt positively unsafe coming out of the Arsenal station, and was interested to see that the total police presence in the station was one policeman at the top of the steps as one turns right into the exit after the long tunnel. He was doing nothing about the Yid chanting – as if he could.
After the game Drew and I nearly got ourselves involved in an ugly scene as two policemen riding horses rode straight us, while chasing a man (who seemed to have done nothing at all). Within seconds there was a lot of pushing as the word “paedophile” (seemingly now the the hard-code Tottenham word for an Arsenal fan) was used repeatedly and some Arsenal fans called the Tottenham fans Fucking Yids in a most aggressive manner. We got out of the way quick. (If I felt unsafe surrounded by Tottenham fans coming out of the Arsenal underground I felt doubly unsafe with police horses charging around amidst the fans as they left).
Just a few instances, but this was a much heightened problem from anything that I personally have experienced for years and years.
Clearly if others had the same impression (and I have to say that it did seem widespread) then Peter Herbert and his Society has a lot to answer for. I would never say the Tottenham and Arsenal games are all peace and light, but the aggressive use of Yid and Paedophile was not like this last year.
I have little doubt that in raising the issue just before this match the Society has a lot to answer for, and what it should be doing instead of making any representation to the police is apologising for the behaviour that their attitude has directly caused.
This is not like the police saying, “We are going to stop car theft” and then finding two cars are stolen, and saying “the announcement has made matters worse”. This is an issue that has slowly, with a lot of hard work and patience, been reduced to a much lower level than it used to be at. Yes there are still some awful things chanted and said – from the gassing sound to the Paedophile chants and the adoption of the Paedophile name for Arsenal fans, but all that has happened here is that the Society has made matters far worse.
If the Society has any sense of decency it will take hold of the matter and issue a letter in which it says something along the lines of
“The Society took a hard line in suggesting that action should be taken against the word Yid and its use at football matches. We realise now that in making this suggestion we were doing nothing to help the situation in north London, and we humbly and deeply apologise for our most stupid and idiotic statements prior to the match. We all plead guilty to inciting riotous behaviour and offer ourselves unconditionally to the police for arrest and subsequent charging with behaviour liable to cause a breach of the peace.”
That might help.
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