As it’s only a few days until England kick off their World Cup campaign, I thought I would get into the patriotic spirit and put it down into words why, I would say, a large number of Liverpool fans, especially local fans, do not get behind the national team.
In the 1970s, before Margaret Thatcher’s government, it would not be an uncommon appearance for union jacks to be waved in the Liverpool end, travelling Europe or on the Kop. Nowadays, they are scarce.
Thatcher’s rise to power led to the fall of national pride amongst the people of Liverpool. The ‘managed decline’ of the city led to spending being slashed, jobs lost and riots ensue.
Liverpool was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, ports of trade and employed tens of thousands of men. In 1982 the docks were closed, a year after one of the city’s biggest factories, Tate and Lyle closed. Unemployment levels were at a high and the city was poverty stricken.
The feeling was that the country was neglecting Liverpool and not treating it as one of its own. Why should we hold the union jack aloft, which is on top of 10 Downing Street, when this country does not represent our interests or take an interest in our welfare?
Liverpool has always had an image of an outsider from other parts of the country. Likewise, Liverpool has always relished in this outsider image too. Paraded on the Kop in the 2007 European Cup semi-final was a banner stating, “We’re not English, we are Scouse”.
This outsider image comes from Liverpool’s roots that it is a city built on immigrants. Many settled here when they came into port through work and many of the Irish jumped on a boat here to flee the Great Famine of the 1840s. Most people from Merseyside have Irish relatives, if not an Irish surname.
The term Scouse comes from the Scandinavian dish Lapskaus, a popular meal on Merseyside, which is basically beef, veg and potato in a stew. The influx of sailors into the port of Liverpool brought about being accepting and embracing other cultures, from wider Europe, Chinese and the Caribbean.
In 1989, 96 Liverpool fans died at an FA Cup semi-final. The FA, very much the establishment, corrupt to the core, selected Hillsborough as the venue, seeing as though in the 1980s there had been delayed kick-offs due to people not being able to access the ground on time and a serious crush left 38 Spurs fans hospitalised. But the FA protest they did not know of these events in the few years before 1989.
The cover-up that followed for decades until the Hillsborough Independent Panel report led to the two-year inquests that found that the fans were unlawfully killed.
For years, the rest of the country has blamed Liverpool for Hillsborough, still to this day they do too, despite the findings. Why should a Liverpool fan, stand side-by-side with a southerner at an England game rejoicing in a rendition of Land of Hope and Glory, or even worse, God Save the Queen, when that southerner supports a football team that have probably (and the chances are they still do) have preconceived ideas about the people of Liverpool and sing ‘sign on’ to the tune of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. In a time of austerity, to mock a city for unemployment at what is supposed to be the working man’s game is an act of betrayal against its own social class.
It was The Sun newspaper that tarnished the city’s reputation and this is no coincidence it was The Sun that ran those headlines. Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch were chums and bounced off each other’s actions. In 1985, Thatcher won the Miners’ strike which gave Murdoch the courage to follow suit and take on the print unions a year later, know as the Battle of Wapping, which meant through newer technology being used, jobs were lost and the work cost cheaper. The blame could never be landed on the establishment, as this would have damaged her reputation and support and The Sun, who seem to back whoever is in power most of the time would be left with egg on their face too. How would they cover the story if the truth did come out? Well, eventually the truth did come out and their editor decided to be the only UK national newspaper to not cover the story on their front page.
The English faithful never fail to misbehave wherever they travel to follow the three lions. The spirit of St George fills their hearts with patriotism as they throw ale over tourists in Amsterdam and somebody’s bike into the canal. The Churchillian spirit fuelled by a few cans of warm Stella or Carling brings out the song about shooting down German planes.
Maybe the English fans cannot behave themselves around Europe because they get too excited when they see fine grains of sand, as they do not have the pleasures of living on the shores of the Mersey, where a barbecue on the beach is never far away in the summer.
An obvious factor in why Liverpool are more inclined to not support the national team than any other city is because the games are played at Wembley, therefore northerners are less likely to go and watch England play. Although, their recent friendly was played at Elland Road. In all fairness, if they played at more grounds around the country that could help the northern and southern divide when in football terms.
However, on a personal level, I like the division between the North and South, not to mention the division from the rest of the country to Merseyside.
If someone says they are from Kent, you do not think of any cultural connotations that are attached with Kent, rather rural cottages and men walking their whippets on a slackened lead eyeing up each other’s array of different coloured canvas trousers. Not to mention the tweed jackets and the jodhpurs.
Whereas if someone says they are from Liverpool, you think of the culture the city has through fashion, music and its multi-culturalism. The city has always looked out towards other cultures, a fine example being the new song that started in Porto last season, Allez Allez Allez, and became a song that will bring back memories of our European journeys last season.
In-Ger-Land have always looked in though. The originality, plagiarism and lack of humour you will see of English flags in Russia of St George’s cross with a Brexiteer town like Nuneaton on it does not compare to the flag display on the Kop.
The St George’s cross has become a symbol of the English Defence League, which gives warning signs of who follow the national team.
As the nations’ pride seems to rest on a football team that has not won anything in over 50 years, we remember those who died in Grenfell tower a year ago, the majority being immigrants and the working class. Could you imagine a fancy sky-rise block of apartments occupied by bankers going up in flames due to inadequate materials used on the building which the residents had written to the council about multiple time warning of inevitable fires?
Reports emerged fire-proof cladding would have cost about £5000 more, which would have saved 72 lives that the establishment viewed as less valuable than the products of incest in Windsor. In 2016, Buckingham Palace was announced to have a taxpayer-funded 10-year renovation cost £369m.
Looking at these comparisons, God Save the Queen seems like a sick mock at those whose lives that were not deemed to be valuable enough to save.
After all, these immigrants and refugees fled here, to the self-professed Land of Hope and Glory, in order to give their families a fair chance in life.
So, when all the patriots sing ‘Its coming home’, ask yourselves what exactly is coming home. The survivors of Grenfell won’t be going home. More than 60 families haven’t been given a home to go to.
When morals and politics cross in football, there are bound to divisions, but when a team playing the ‘working man’s game’ that represent the establishment and a country governed by the rich and for the rich, they will never have my support.