Liverpool fans gave us our voice at Anfield on Saturday; football should thank them
Liverpool fans are not big on deference to anyone but Shankly, Paisley, Dalglish, Benitez or Klopp, so the coronation boos were to be expected and applauded.
Anfield. 5.30pm. Coronation day. ‘God Save The King’ strikes up across the PA, as was ‘strongly suggested’ by the Premier League. It’s followed immediately by loud, prolonged and vociferous booing for the duration of that awful, depressing dirge with the dodgy lyrics. It was a beautiful noise, and once again showed that football can be a place for the people to come together and shout to the top.
Sometimes, just sometimes, Liverpool has a good claim to be the best fans in England, certainly when it comes to protesting a just cause. Certainly when it comes to taking zero percent sh*t off the establishment, wherever and whenever they are to be found, they’ve got serious form. For some of the reasons why, the excellent Tony Evans can enlighten us.
They are certainly not big on deference to anyone, not unless they’re called Shankly, Paisley, Dalglish, Benitez or Klopp and none of those noble men would think they deserved to be the object of demeaning, forelock tugging gestures to aggrandise themselves. All have achieved great things, far greater things than anyone who picks up a massive giro for being in the royal family has ever done, and none were anointed with holy oil from a 1,000-year-old spoon, behind a screen present to hide the utter vacuity of such Harry Potterish nonsense.
And in that they are just like all of us who haven’t been made super rich by poncing off the people; who haven’t hoarded billions in private wealth; who haven’t had the option not to pay inheritance tax; who haven’t demanded to oversee and change legislation that they don’t think suits them; who haven’t inherited and exploited land for huge profit; who haven’t kept head-of-state gifts as personal assets; and who haven’t had massive wealth and privilege gifted to them at birth for simply being born into one specific dodgy family who drift aimlessly through a life of luxury offering nothing, while calling it ‘work’ and hoovering up everything and never justifying any of it, presumably because it can’t be justified. So you can stick your Sword of Sincerity right up your feckin’ fundament of infinity, pal.
Quite why the Premier League had, if not enforced, then tried to persuade clubs to play the anthem wasn’t clear. It was obvious that many would object so I’d like to think they knew this and thought it a good idea as it would allow football fans to say ‘please pish off, your royal bollix’ but I doubt it. It was out of touch people making out of touch decisions, but it had a welcome outcome all the same.
By all means sit on The Mall dressed in Union Jacks and bend the knee to these weird inbred inadequates, some of whom seem oppressed and tortured by your very peculiar scrutiny, but many others find it surreal and, at the very least, a grotesque waste of public money spent on a mega-rich billionaire. Liverpool fans gave us our voice on Saturday. Football came to the rescue. I love football.
It was such a great, safe place for it to happen, because taking a rebel stance on these matters can now get you arrested, as the state sought to repress protest and enforce acquiescence to these ridiculous, prancing over-dressed overlords who love performative Christianity, while not following Jesus’ teachings at all. Needles and camels, son. Think about it.
Yeah, but they couldn’t arrest 53,000 in Anfield, could they? They’ve got the guns but we’ve got the numbers.
These people are not better than you or I, but the whole institution, by default, says they are. Liverpool fans simply said, while worshipping in the church of the common people, no you’re not. It needs saying.
You come not to be served but to serve? A man with actual servants is saying this. Pfft. Yeah, tell it to the people working in Buckingham Palace for less than minimum wage. You’re serving them are you?
Who do you think you’re fooling? Well, plenty obviously, but not thousands of Liverpool fans and they spoke for the majority of people in the UK. For the 18 to 24 year olds of whom only 36% want to keep the monarchy, down from more than 70% 10 years ago. Nearly 60% of us are “not very interested” or “not at all interested” in the royal family. In Scotland, only 37% approve of the monarchy. So the Liverpool fans booing the national anthem were not the extremist minority that some would paint them to be. They’re just regular people who’ve seen through the charade.
I didn’t watch any of it, preferring to pot tomato plants in the greenhouse while, ironically enough, listening to a band called Queensryche and their brilliant ‘Mechanical Resonance’ album. But the pictures I’ve seen online looked like satirical memes constructed to make everyone look ridiculous. Two auld buggers who looked a little medicated and straight out of the care home, wearing joke shop crowns; busty women holding phallic swords aloft; people wrapped in Union Jack flags like it was an old-school National Front rally. How can anyone take it seriously, let alone bow down to it? How do those ‘I kneel for no-one’ people who wouldn’t take the knee for Black Lives Matter find it so easy to bend the knee for inherited undemocratic privilege? I don’t know the tone that was struck on TV, but my bet is on 100% toadying and grovelling.
But at Anfield, they don’t do toadying and grovelling. They represented all of us who don’t suck this slurry down like it’s mother’s milk on a day when perspective wasn’t obviously available elsewhere. Football is by the people, for the people and here it was, doing its job in that context.
Was there booing at other games? I hope so. If there was, I suspect it wasn’t as obvious as it was at Anfield. Maybe Liverpool’s vocal anti-establishment credentials are louder and stronger than most, but opposition to what many saw as ridiculous or simply found uninteresting was nationally deep and wide, and it was right that it was heard in one of football’s great town squares, a place which had once roared its approval of a profound manager who said: “The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, the way I see life.”
Yeah, that’s why they booed long and loud. And that’s why they were right to do so.
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