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July 2021

Is it football that is mad or the whole of society? Or just me?

By Tony Attwood

Consider, if you have a moment, 13 incidents.

1:  A Newcastle fan apparently punched a police horse.

2.  Millwall fans fighting, and the allegations flow in.  It was due to tickets being sold to fans of other clubs who deliberately came along for a fight.  Err, no it wasn’t.  OK it was Millwall fans who don’t normally go to games but wanted a bit of the big time.  Nope not that either.  Or well, we don’t know, let’s punish someone anyone.

What the media can’t get a hold of is the notion that there are vast areas of difference and disagreement between fans of each and every individual club.  Arsenal has the AAA vs the people who believe that you should always support the team, the manager and the club.   Or put it another way the “We want our Arsenal back” groupings, against though who patiently say, “What Arsenal?  Which era are we talking about here?  Which decade?  Which year?”

Funny thing the media, if no one breaks rank, no one publishes what football followers observe a lot of the time.  We, the fans, are a tribe.  And within each tribe there are sub-tribes jostling for position.

Poor little media men and women, always off the boil.  Poor fans, stylised for the sake of media unity.

3:  Football violence in the USA where everything is (we are told) squeaky clean and managed.   George John of FC Dallas was hit by a bottle thrown from the crowd, and oh no shock shock shock it came from the FC Dallas section of the crowd.  How could this be?  Oh, hang on…

4:  “It is always unacceptable to throw anything onto the field of play” trumpet the media.  But what about the reverse where so much more damage can be done?  Throw a coin on the pitch and it is likely to miss.  Of course the person doing it should be expelled from the ground for ever, that’s a given.  But a player throwing a coin at the crowd is bound to hit someone.  So what should we do?  Punish him to eternity?

Oh I know.  A three match ban.  Jamie Carragher did it and Highbury and that’s what he got.  But then its always been one law for the rich…

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5:  The FA launches an investigation into... well anything you like.   What is an FA investigation like?  What does it do?  Read the papers I suppose – because the FA launch so many enquiries there is nothing else they can do but flip through the back pages.   So they investigate Stockport after the fans ran onto the pitch and attacked players during a Blue Square game between Kidderminster and Stockport. Perhaps we should all play water polo or that game with mallets and hoops – except mallets are dangerous weapons.

6:  People call behaviour “a disgrace” and when they want a variant they call it “disgraceful”.   “Coming on to the pitch and assaulting somebody oversteps the mark,” said A Player.   The chair of Kidderminster said it was down to a “a very, very small minority” of supporters.

So maybe that is the problem people have to fight because we have run out of language to describe anything.  If someone ever uses any new form of expression to describe an event in or around a football match it will be the end of the world.

7:  We can’t do nothing, never, ever.  Try this quote for size: “Our stewards and police have worked tremendously hard … yes, of course, we will address any ways in which we might be able to improve but that is perfectly natural. Intelligence from Stockport going into the game told us there was no substantial risk of trouble … unfortunately, you cannot legislate for the mentality of a very, very small minority.”

Intelligence?  Small minority?

Well actually you can legislate.  Very few people commit murder in the UK – it is a tiny minority, but we legislate against it.   But why did the press not pick on such a statement, rather than just carrying it?

Oh yes, I remember… let’s blame someone else.

8:  Stockport’s chief executive, Ryan McKnight, said of Kidderminster club,  “They are totally to blame. The game should have been all-ticket and it wasn’t policed inside the ground.”  Probably because Kidderminster wouldn’t pay them, and beside the police were all too busy stopping their police horses being punched.

9:  A mass brawl broke out in a Copa Libertadores game after Gremio coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo apparently made fun of the Huachipato manager and players.   TV replays showed Luxemburgo “laughing” at the manager of the opposition.  Huachipato players attacked Luxemburgo, according to reports.

“I didn’t say anything or provoke anyone. I saw they were looking to fight so I ran off,” Luxemburgo said.  As would I.  Except the opposition claimed in a newspaper that, “He tried to make fun of us… That’s unsporting conduct. He said we should go on holiday, making a gesture with his hand.”

Ah well, the hand gesture.  Pretty powerful stuff.

10.   Around 100 hooded supporters (or as they say in the press “supporters” or “so called supporters” or “hooligans”) waving sticks broke into the changing rooms at the Argentine second division club Huracan, beat up the players and stole their money and clothes.

And this wasn’t even at a match, it was after a training day.  Coach Jose Maria Llop said, “They hit some of the lads. When we left, the physical trainer’s car and some others had been scratched and the tyres burst. There were eight other cars in that state. They also took money from players.”

Dangerous business, this training lark.

10.  The Football League ignores its own rules by letting West Ham play at the Olympic Stadium.   According to the papers… “Less than a month after announcing that he would drop his legal action if he failed to win a judicial review over Leyton Orient’s exclusion from the tenancy deal struck for the London 2012 centrepiece, Barry Hearn performed a dramatic about-turn.”

No he didn’t, he either changed his mind, or was misquoted by the press.

“We are not going to be bullied by the big boys,” said Mr Hearn.  “We have enough resources and enough friends on our side to take this fight well into the next decade, if necessary. We want a groundshare at the Olympic Park and we think we have an unanswerable case for that being the real legacy of the Olympics.”

He also said, “Anyone with a brain can see West Ham moving half a mile up the road and giving away free tickets would have an adverse effect on this football club.”  Mr Hearn also said the WHU deal was “the most unbelievable deal of state sponsorship and state subsidy that I’ve ever seen.”

11:  Ross County and St Mirren vetoed a new league system in Scotland, which was so complex that no one could understand it.  Well ok, I’ll be fair.  I couldn’t understand it.  Unfortunately the rest of Scottish football forgot to set up a plan B.

But hang on, the SFA have said that they have had enough of this democracy lark in which the rules of voting are laid down and then you abide by the decision.  No.  They don’t like the result so they will impose a new set-up as long as the required majority of clubs  in other leagues are in favour of such an outcome.

“This will require a mandate to the Scottish FA from both the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League, so that positive changes to improve Scottish football’s future can be proposed without the threat of legal recourse or judicial review,” the SFA.  And the mention that a vote had taken place in accordance with the rules?  No, nothing on that.  Bugger democratic process for a lark.

A statement from SFL chief executive David Longmuir said, “The Board of the Scottish Football League wishes to convey its thanks to the governing body for its offer of assistance at this time.

Well you would.

12.  Liverpool’s MD, Ian Ayre, says all the club’s future transfers will be decided by committee rather than Brendan Rodgers being allowed full control of recruitment.

This is how Arsenal used to do it in the period 1893 to 1897, so good to see Liverpool catching up.

Anyway that awfully nice Rodgers fellow is now part of a recruitment team rather than accepting the traditional managerial authority to buy and sell. Dave Fallows is head of recruitment, Barry Hunter is chief scout, and the head of analysis Michael Edwards has taken up the job of target assessment.

B. Rodgers said last year that he would not work for a director of football, so its a good job no one is called that.  “It’s absolute madness if you are the manager of the club and someone else tells you to have that player,” he said last July. “It doesn’t work.”

FSG who own Liverpool got a little miffed after the last director of football Damien Comolli spent £110 million in one year.

Lucky 13: Back to the FA who said that having the FA Cup final between two northern teams at 5:15pm was a good thing, even though Wigan and Man C fans won’t be able to get back to northern parts.  It is unlikely anyone is going to make the last trains back, but the FA said it was all right because,

“The FA would like to highlight that 5.15pm is a regular kick-off time in the football calendar.  This time was agreed with major stakeholders and broadcasters and has been used across the game for a number of years for televised matches. In terms of transportation, a small percentage of cup final fans use the method of train travel.”

So now we know, fans are not stakeholders any more.

Virgin have announced that an additional train on the morning of next month’s final will run from Wigan North Western to London Euston saying,  “The Football Association, with whom there has been a regular dialogue, fully understands the position of the train operators while they in turn acknowledge the commercial and footballing considerations of the FA.”

The FA said, “In terms of transportation, a small percentage of Cup Final fans use the method of train travel,” as well as informing disgruntled supporters that “5.15pm is a regular kick-off time in the football calendar” and that “this time was agreed with major stakeholders and broadcasters.” A late kick-off is better for TV audiences.

I use the train sometimes to get from Kettering, near the village I live in, and St Pancras in London, to watch Arsenal.  When I do it is full of Arsenal supporters, plus supporters of other clubs.   Funny the FA don’t know this.  But then I guess with their chauffeur driven cars…

14:  The FBI are looking into the affairs of ex Fifa bigwigs Mr Blazer and Mr Warner.
15: A Liverpool player – a Mr Suárez – bit another player on the arm during a game.
1:  A Newcastle fan apparently punched a police horse (keep reading round and round in circles until the world stops).

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10 comments to Is it football that is mad or the whole of society? Or just me?

  • WalterBroeckx

    No, Tony the whole world has gone mad…

  • chibyke

    nice article…. could you please write something on RVP winning the title and his “triumphant return” on sunday? and possibly how fans should behave? the pain of it all is…..excruciating.

  • Mogooner

    RVP aka Shaitan doesn’t deserve an article. Nice points Tony, and these are just recent issues. Can you imagine if you decided to do a write-up of the madness that’s happened over the whole of the current campaign?

  • Rufusstan

    Sadly all very true Tony. Could add to a bunch, but will just pick 2.

    3). After the Millwall incident I read an article on a major US news site, and the comments were the expected stereotypical stuff –English football fans are all thugs and that sort of thing never happens here. I had to dive in and defend the changes that have happened here, and got a good debate.

    I also pointed out that things look worrying in the NFL as it has the same mix of Alcohol, tribalism and strong rivalries that drove things over here, and pointed out a few incidents to highlight it — for one, the Raiders had annual pre-season game against the 49’s. The violence was so bad last year that it was quietly taken off the schedule.

    What struck me is that all you’d need in the current situation would be a few sociopaths starting to organise things, or some tit-for-tat revenge incidents, and you’d be where we were late 70’s, early 80’s.

    Funny thing is that of all of the half dozen posts I made on the topic, that one vanished into the ether.

    13). You have to hand it to the FA, they are strictly true on this one but it is a wonderful bit of reverse logic.

    If only about 1000 fans can get home using the trains on the night of the game (out of 60.000 odd), yep few use the trains for a cup final. (By the way, if City fans took every seat, on every train leaving Manchester on Saturday that could get them there before the game, rail could still only move maybe half of them).

    The really sad thing is how have the FA gone from an organization that 20 years ago made it very clear that no league match can be televised at 3pm on a Saturday for fear of hurting crowd numbers throughout the country, to simply ignoring the fans hardships on the assumption they will turn up anyway. — Maybe it is the same organisation, they just follow their own agenda as always, and occasionally it aligns with ours.

  • nicky

    The game on Sunday happens to be against Man Utd and one where we need all 3 points. Who they select to play is of no concern to us. We will have our team selected according to fitness and tactics laid down by Arsene Wenger.
    Our fans will cheer our lads and ignore theirs. End of.

  • ARSENAL 13


    But having seen our home crowd this season, I dont think thats going to happen. Some will sit there like they are in a meeting in a boardroom. Some will boo RVP. Some will turn on their own players.

    I would be surprised to see a different atmosphere. I hope our guys give them a royal thrashing.

  • chibyke

    @ nicky…..true. the boys need to knuckle down,grit their teeth and get this UCL place…..or NOT. whichever happens, there will always be next season.

  • Stuart

    I like to think that I was already mad, the rest of the world is just catching up.

  • nicky

    @Arsenal 13,
    Much as I hate to say it, you are probably 100% right.

  • nicky

    Regardless as to whether we achieve CL football next term or not, I get the feeling that at long last some super signings will emerge in the Summer Window.
    I’m sure that in the past Arsene has been limited with funds for transfers.
    Things have now improved no end and this close season we should see the benefit of past prudence.