‘When the announcement of the Queen’s death came on Thursday evening, for some time there was no reaction from Liverpool Football Club.
‘As often happens these days, into that void poured opinions, emotions and outlandish conspiracy theories. Nothing is just let be any more.
‘Liverpool made no comment, it was speculated, because the club was terrified of upsetting its fans, who hate the monarchy’
For a man not on Twitter, Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail places way too much stock on what idiots say on Twitter. Were there a handful of people questioning Liverpool’s relatively late (it arrived at 8.10pm, 100 minutes after the announcement of her passing) statement? Yes. Should such nonsense be ignored? Also absolutely yes.
By giving voice to such views, Samuel gives credence to those views. And he also gives a platform for that nonsense to perpetuate, as evidenced by the BTL comments which almost all take the stance that Liverpool fans are indeed scum.
Daily Mail readers might not have known that Liverpool were among the later clubs to pay their respects to the Queen but they do now. So thanks for that, Martin.
Samuel explains that Liverpool were just following protocol in their delayed statement, but by now the damage is done with even the suggestion that their fans hate the monarchy. And then he doubles down:
‘The suggestion that football was postponed at the weekend because Anfield could not be trusted to behave appropriately is an insult to the club and its supporters.’
And where is that suggestion, Martin? Your own newspaper carried the claim that ‘Fears over football fans disrespecting tributes to the Queen were a factor behind the Premier League’s shutdown this weekend after Shamrock Rovers supporters sang offensive songs during European tie’ but Anfield was not mentioned; Liverpool fans were not mentioned.
The only person writing in a national newspaper – and not on Twitter – that Liverpool fans are not trusted to show respect to the Queen is Martin Samuel.
‘The booing of the national anthem during two Wembley finals last year was a commentary on the state, not the monarch.’
Odd, because your colleagues clearly did not feel like it was ‘a commentary on the state’ at the time, when they made it a front-page issue.
— Helena Wilkinson (@BBCHelena) May 14, 2022
‘If Liverpool get to Wembley this season, the anthem will probably be booed by a section of the crowd again and some will think that very wrong, but the anthem is different to a minute of remembrance. There is no history of Liverpool supporters targeting the Queen personally, far less of them sullying a moment such as this.’
There’s no history of the Queen being at a Wembley cup final played by Liverpool so it’s impossible – and ridiculous of Samuel – to promise that ‘there will be a minute’s silence before the Champions League match with Ajax and it will no doubt be impeccably observed’.
It might; it might not be; all we do know for certain is that Samuel has surfaced these ideas for a readership that is overwhelmingly right wing, overwhelmingly Royalist and overwhelmingly bell-ends.
‘There has never been a question of the club failing to hold a minute’s silence to mark her death at its first home game and no question of it moving away from proper observance into the unconventional or non-committal.’
Until now. This is the question. By setting out to defend Liverpool fans, all Samuel has done is set them up for a fall. And give Daily Mail readers fair warning.
‘Nobody is interpreting this through the medium of jazz dance.’
I mean…f*** knows. Genuinely no idea what that means.
Samuel then goes on to describe murdered nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel as ‘luckless’ like a striker who cannot even score a goal with his backside, which jars more than a little.
‘Back to Tuesday night and what affords the certainty that the proper mood will be struck? Past experience.
‘On February 10, 2008, Manchester United commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster and some firestarter at the Premier League scheduled the visit of Manchester City for that weekend.’
It was a fixture computer but carry on…
‘The preceding week was consumed by dread, the fear that City supporters would defile a solemn occasion for their rivals. All week, messages were sent and reinforced in the hope of preventing a disrespectful and unforgivable pandemonium.
‘Yet on the day, nothing. City supporters held up blue and white scarves to compliment their hosts’ red and white. A pin drop would have echoed around Old Trafford, such was the reverential quiet.’
So the ‘past experience’ you cite does not involve Liverpool fans at all, but Manchester City fans 14 years ago. But wait…
‘Forward to earlier this year when Liverpool played Manchester United at Anfield the day after it was announced that Cristiano Ronaldo and wife Georgina had lost their newborn son. Ronaldo did not play but, in the seventh minute, Liverpool supporters began applauding to show solidarity with the player and his family at such a sad time.
‘There is no less popular club with Liverpool supporters than Manchester United and few less popular players than Ronaldo. Yet that was put aside in a collective show of empathy and humanity. And this is the crowd that is going to ruin a minute’s silence for Queen Elizabeth II?’
That’s simply not comparing like with like. Not every Liverpool fan applauded that day and yet you are promising that every Liverpool fan will be silent on Tuesday night. It’s ludicrous to make that promise. And doing so has done nothing but ramp up the pressure.
‘Largely, football supporters get it. Away from the banter and the blinkers, most people who attend football realise when a moment is too important for tribal rivalries or wider emotions to encroach.
‘They know this at Liverpool most of all because a vicious circle of vile disrespect has been allowed to taint commemorations of the dead of Hillsborough and Munich.
‘It hardly matters who started it – both sides will blame each other – but songs about Liverpool’s supposed victim mentality and gestures signifying a plane crash are common whenever the Manchester United fixture is played.
‘It is unedifying, upsetting – and if the minute’s silence was tarnished on Tuesday it would further risk pariah status. And who wants that?’
So you admit that Liverpool and Manchester United fans are capable of doing awful, awful things at football matches and yet you are predicting that the same fans will stop themselves because they don’t want to ‘risk pariah status’? That makes literally no sense.
And ‘largely’ football supporters behaving will clearly not be enough for the media now on heightened alert for any sullying. And now Daily Mail readers are on heightened alert too.
‘Every club seeks appreciation, respect, if not love, from neutral observers. Imagine the horrible vortex of abuse between Manchester United and Liverpool replicated at every ground? What purpose would it serve?’
So why does that ‘horrible vortex of abuse’ exist if every club ‘seeks appreciation, respect, if not love, from neutral observers’? Because every fan is not the same. Every fan has not got the same sensibilities as Martin Samuel, you or I.
‘And, yes, there’s 50,000 people in the stadium. It is hard to vouch for the common sense, empathy and sobriety of them all.
‘At the Theatre Royal, Bath, on Friday, during the minute’s silence it was possible to observe four people in the stalls who remained seated.
‘One of them was also the loudest and most demonstrative audience member when the production concluded, so maybe she just liked being noticed. The point is, it didn’t reflect on the theatre that a handful did not stand. It’s a free country and they weren’t disruptive.’
Because the 900 people who have bought tickets to watch Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods in Bath can be exactly compared to 50,000 football fans.
Since when was there a ‘horrible vortex of abuse’ in the theatres of spa towns across the West Country?
‘It is possible to be a republican and respect duty, responsibility and service, or to respect the feelings of others, or that a family, no matter their status, has just lost its matriarch. That is what many Labour MPs who are not monarchists have been doing.’
Yes, but 50,000 Labour MPs are not gathering in a stadium. Samuel then sails through the criticism handed out to ‘the likes of Trevor Sinclair and Jedward’, which is a clause we never thought we would read, before ending here:
‘Jordan Henderson, Liverpool’s captain, travelled to Liverpool town hall on Monday and signed the book of condolence. Jurgen Klopp said he supported the minute’s silence but added Liverpool’s fans did not need any guidance from him on how to show respect.
‘He’s right, of course. Tonight, the club of Sir Kenny Dalglish – his title duly noted – will fall silent, because its people will know what to do.’
What an utterly ridiculous thing to promise. We might all hope that the minute’s silence passes off peacefully but vouching for the behaviour of 50,000 people is beyond silly.
For the record, we’re with Barney Ronay:
Literally makes no difference to anything what happens before the game at anfield tonight. Noises or silence. What’s a boo? Who cares? Nothing will be affected. Just show, fluff, distraction, a chance to create a villain
— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) September 13, 2022