Liverpool FC – Losing the Respect of the GameApril 11th, 2012 | Posted by in Liverpool
I’ve always admired and respected Liverpool Football Club. They were until recently the most successful English club when it comes to domestic league titles, and still hold that honour when measuring European glory. Their history is peppered with fantastic players, dominant teams, decorated managers and passionate fans, and I can’t be the only non-Liverpool fan who has had a bit of a soft spot for them in the past. Some of this warmth undoubtedly (and sadly) comes from the Hillsborough tragedy which sees its 23 year anniversary pass this Sunday. Despite having no affiliation to Liverpool, Forest or Sheffield, reading and watching anything regarding the disaster greatly affects me, and I have nothing but sympathy for the families who lost loved ones that day. I think it was 2009, the 20th anniversary, when the BBC ran a brilliant live show from Anfield, there was an incredible piece by Alan Hansen who was playing that day. I’m paraphrasing here, but something he said has stayed with me ever since: “Fans started invading the pitch, so I approached one and said to him, ‘get off the pitch, you’re going to get this great club into trouble,’ and he just responded with, ‘Al, there are people dead in there’, and the magnitude of the situation all of sudden became real.”
Football has changed dramatically since the days of the late 80s, no more than at Liverpool FC. Gone are days of domestic domination, and despite a European Cup triumph in extraordinary circumstances, success has been hard to come by for the Reds. ‘But you’re an Arsenal fan, you’ve not won a trophy in 7 years!’, yes that’s true, but Liverpool haven’t even come close to a league title since they last won one in 1990, 22 years ago. This season has been particularly frustrating for Liverpool fans who saw a positive start ruined by poor home form and a recent collapse in the league of 6 defeats, 2 draws and just 2 wins in this calendar year.
Off the pitch a lot of the mutual ‘good will’ and respect surrounding the club (Utd and Everton fans accepted) has all but disappeared. Luis Suarez admitted to and was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra, but was still supported by his club bullishly throughout. The t-shirts worn by the players during the warm-up at the Wigan game were distasteful, and some of the statements coming from Kenny Dalglish and other LFC legends were pretty ludicrous. The manager hasn’t found it easy dealing with the press(ure) since his return to management, which culminated in him telling a Sky reporter that he was ‘bang out of order’ for asking a perfectly reasonable question. Arsene Wenger often gets accused of being short with the press and gets ridiculed when claiming he ‘didn’t see it’, but Kenny is in a different league. A little humility, understanding and appreciation that the press WILL ask you questions would go a bloody long way, as would not attacking every referee’s integrity. Suarez could do with toning down his scandalous antics too – the diving I can just about stomach but the hypocrisy of his incessant handball appeals is astounding.
The fans shouldn’t escape blame neither, two really nasty incidents made them drop significantly in my and a lot of people estimations. Firstly booing Patrice Evra for the heinous crime of being racially abused – I wouldn’t exactly call Evra my favourite player in the world but to boo him for reporting racial abuse which Suarez ADMITTED to, is quite staggering. The other, Oldham player Tom Adeyemi being brought to tears on the Anfield pitch following an alleged racist comment from a Liverpool fan. Now, I can’t prove that Adeyemi was racially abused by a Liverpool fan, but I can prove that when it became apparent that he was implying racial abuse and becoming upset about it, the Kop began to sing ‘There’s only one Luis Suarez, one Luis Suarez…’. They might as well have thrown bananas at him.
The sensitivities surrounding the upcoming Hillsborough anniversary have meant that the Liverpool v Everton FA Cup semi-final be moved from Sunday 15th to Saturday 14th, so not to clash with a day of mourning on Merseyside. That’s fair enough right? Comedian (and Gooner, incidentally) Alan Davies made a frankly throwaway comment asking why the game needed to be moved? I don’t agree with Davies, it was an insensitive and inflammatory thing to say, and I think it’s a good thing that the football authorities take into account these kind of social and cultural sensitivities, but I also don’t agree with death threats. That’s what Davies has been receiving in the last 24 hours, just check out his Twitter timeline where he’s been retweeting a ‘colourful’ selection. Support a racist but threaten the life of Johnathan Creek? Stay classy, Liverpool.