The unprecedented loyalty of some football fans really can’t be denied. Some players, fans and club officials really are willing to do anything for the club. But it them gets to a point where it all goes too far, it shouldn’t be a matter of life, death or all round stupidity.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m talking about football’s dark chapters. We try and avoid it, a bit like a nerdy kid who sits at the front row of every classroom. But there are some cases that have gone beyond the unspoken barrier where the actions of people, and I have to state that it’s a real minority, put the game into disrepute.
Everyone knows about the infamous Celtic FC vs Rangers FC derby. It’s actually more like a war than a derby. The infamous Celtic and Rangers derby dates back to Celtic’s Catholic roots and Rangers’ Protestant roots. The political difficulties in Northern Ireland justify that Catholics and Protestants really don’t get along, a political conflict which has actually increased passions for the Old Firm derby. There are parts of Glasgow where you will get attacked if you wore a Rangers or Celtic top in certain areas of the city.
But there is a point where it can all go too far, and that point was broken last week. Celtic manager Neil Lennon and several high profile Celtic board members were sent letter bombs and parcel bombs. Fortunately, they were intercepted before they reached their final destination. Lennon waved it away and said it’s a part of managing a club like Celtic.
Rubbish. It doesn’t matter what football club you manage, whether it’s Celtic or Luton Town, your life should not be threatened as a part if your job. Lennon has dealt with the incident remarkably well, considering that the letter bomb was dissected and is said to have the intention of causing great harm. I love the passion of the Celtic and Rangers fans, but when you’re deliberately trying to knock off managers, that’s surely a point where fans have gone too far.
No matter how passionate you are about your club, I’m fairly the job description for the Celtic FC manager position didn’t mention that your life could be in danger by taking the position. You work for your football club and you do the best you can do. Football is an important part of our lives, whether we rely on it for a source of income or we follow it as a religion under the gods of Messi and Ronaldo (or whoever you want), but we still need to keep it away from what really matters.
The line between football and absolute lunacy is getting closer and closer, more needs to be done to ensure it doesn’t happen. Football should be all about going to the game with a few mates, have a few pints, forgetting about our worries for 90 minutes and enjoying youself, not extremist football fans knocking off their cross town rival managers. We can’t have managers getting a vacant managerial post because the last one got assassinated.
Football reared its ugly head in more ways than one this week. Monday’s night tie between Manchester City and Blackburn may be commemorated as the game where Manchester City all but guaranteed themselves of Champions League football, but one thing that hasn’t been mentioned in the papers is Manchester City fans putting their own twist on the most famous cross town jibes.
Missed it? Manchester City fans, who were in fact applauded for their strong support on a freezing Monday night, sang about the Munich Air Disaster. Again. Laden with hatred, the fans sang, no sorry, chanted “Who put the ball in the Munichs’ net?” with glee. It’s disgusting.
It’s tiny minded hatred like this that really can put me off football sometimes. As soon as I heard that, I switched the telly off. These immature ‘grown men’ have used the events of February the 6th in 1958 so many times that it’s a wonder how they find new ways to take the mickey out of the biggest football disasters of all time. Don’t these low lives know that you never use a human tragedy to wind up your opponents at a football match? People died.
Perhaps they got ideas from the BBC’s showing of the moving dramatisation of the events of British European Airways Flight 609, simply called ‘United’ a day before the game, we don’t know. Why do they still do it? The majority of the travelling Manchester City fans at Ewood Park probably weren’t even born when the Munich Air Disaster occurred. As sad as it may seem, the impact of the Munich Air Disaster is slowly becoming phased out. These young supporters, if you can call them that, haven’t been educated about the heartache of the disaster. Plus it doesn’t help that they see the hatred of a football club in their father’s eyes and continue the cycle themselves. The phase of time has meant that one of English football’s worst ever disasters has become secular and profane to football fans.
They shall not grow old, as we are left to grow old.
The expansion of football into the world game has meant the ghosts of football’s past has slowly been forgotten. It can’t happen. Football has suddenly become a game where your life may be at threat. That can’t happen either. Has football gone too far? Has football suddenly become an extremist religion? Have football fans forgotten about the pain of football disasters? It’s sad to think that football really could be going the wrong way.