As a Leeds United fan, I’ve long experience of bitter rivalry between mutually-hostile supporters of various clubs. There has been violence, there has been offensive chanting – it was a big part of the football landscape for far too long. Happily, there has been some improvement over the past couple of decades, but in a couple of isolated pockets, things are as bad as ever. Worse, in fact – because in addition to the unpleasant taste left behind by the revolting chants still in common use whenever you go to such beauty spots as Bermondsey or Stretford, there is now, from the animals who follow Millwall and Man U, the rank stench of hypocrisy.
The game between the fallen champions and Liverpool at the weekend brought this phenomenon into sharp focus. Man U fans have problems with Liverpool. There’s an inferiority complex that won’t go away, for a start. Then there’s what they describe as the Liverpool supporters’ appetite for mawkishness over things like Hillsborough, conveniently forgetting their own habit of taking out an onion every February 6th and weeping crocodile tears over Munich – surely the most profitable air disaster any club has ever struck upon. Still, the Man U faithful turn a blind eye to any apparent inconsistency and continue to demand tributes to “the flowers of Manchester” whilst dubbing Liverpool the “City of Pity”.
In the latest meeting between these two old rivals, Liverpool ran out easy winners at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, the assembled Man U fans having come from the traditional hotbeds of Devon, Cornwall and Milton Keynes only to witness their favourites being given a footballing lesson. This was clearly too much for them, and they reacted with a repeated chorus along the lines of ‘The Sun was right, murderers’, with reference to that gutter tabloid’s disgraceful coverage at the time of the Hillsborough disaster. Classy, eh? 96 people went to the football in Sheffield in 1989, and never came home – and here are modern day football fans mocking the bereaved because they’re losing a football match. Naturally, the media will refuse to mention this – the nastier habits of the Man U congregation tend to be swept hastily under the carpet, for sound commercial reasons.
Next weekend, Leeds United meet Millwall, another club whose fans enjoy mocking opposition fans over light-hearted matters like violent death; but those same fans become all self-righteous when it is suggested to them that their behaviour is that of inbred morons. Their justification for their regular outpourings of hate-filled bile tends to boil down to “well you lot do it, innit”. Now, the shameful fact is that Leeds United did used to have a problem with a minority of their fans who enjoyed baiting rival supporters in just this way. That kind of thing was all the rage back in the vicious eighties, a time when United’s support was heavily infiltrated by racists and other such dross. Things are much better at Leeds now, due in no small measure to supporters’ initiatives and anti-racist, anti-thug fanzines. The whole of football has done much to clean up its act – with the notable but ill-publicised exceptions of Man U and Millwall.
The actions of a minority of Man U fans, in singing that sick and sickening song during their humiliation by Liverpool, puts them on a par with the thugs and Neanderthals of Millwall. Both sets of fans glory in the misery, death and bereavement of others. Both sets emit high-pitched squeals should anyone attempt to upbraid them about it. Both sets come predominately from London (saving Man U’s west country brethren). Both sets are also scum – pure and simple.
We at Leeds may not have to put up with the cretinous behaviour of Millwall fans again. Next weekend’s game is at Elland Road, and Millwall tend to bring a following of maybe a couple of dozen to us, for some reason which, they will tell you, is totally connected with policing restrictions, and nothing at all to do with being a bit too chicken to venture up Norf. And by next season, they’ll most probably be in League One – gone and forgotten, late and unlamented.
But it doubtless won’t be too long before our paths cross with Man U again, and inevitably they will bring their Turkish favours to Elland Road, heedless of the fact that Munich taunts from the home fans are largely a thing of the past. And, as usual, the media will fail to take them to task for it. But they’ve proved all over again in the Liverpool game, for all the world to see and hear, that they still have all the taste and decorum of a sty of diseased pigs – so we should perhaps expect such behaviour, and pity those who are simply too subhuman to conduct themselves otherwise.
It’s a shame, now that, Millwall apart, the rest of football has cleaned up its act a bit. But really – and this is the nub of the issue – what else can you expect of such irredeemable, low-life scum? Let’s just thank the footballing Gods that they’re getting a long-overdue taste of what it’s like in the real world – now that their team has turned to dross in the absence of the Demented One. Enjoy it, scummers. It couldn’t happen to more a deserving set of morons.