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Athens - A Balanced View PDF Print E-mail
Written by Retro Red   
Friday, 01 June 2007

Retro Red's balanced view after the mass hysteria the aftermath of Athens brought.


I'm sorry if this ends up too long-winded, but certain things have got to be put straight now the dust’s starting to settle a bit on our little jaunt to Athens. The first thing that needs addressing is the absolute hysteria that’s taken over in certain quarters. The all too easy throwing around of words like scum, shame, hooligans etc. etc. is the first thing that needs addressing. Forty thousand plus people were out there, the vast, vast majority behaved impeccably. This vast, vast majority have nothing whatsoever to do with the rats and criminal gangs that inevitably try to cash in on an event like Athens. Would you believe it, even those angels in red down the M62 had forgeries, touts and ticket snatchers at Wembley! I resent the insinuation, it's all too often been bordering upon outright accusation, in many quarters (alright RAWK and .tv!) that because I’m a Scouser I’m somehow linked to such shitehawks and muggers. If that’s your attitude, then it’s you that has no place at Anfield, not me.

A number of points have been lost in the mix of upset and anger that gained momentum on the various forums over the past week and a bit.

There was no attempt at segregating the city centre as often happens for big finals; even if, like Istanbul, it doesn’t completely succeed. There were loads from both sides mixing, wandering round everywhere, sleeping rough, bevvying, singing and all the rest of it, yet no firms squaring up, no mad chases, no kick-offs to speak of. In short no, FOOTBALL hooliganism as we recognise it around the city.

There was no segregation in the ground or the surrounding complex. There were Liverpool and Milan fans fully mixed in the blocks either side of the half way line. There were literally thousands of reds, including a block of nearly 1000, all around the Milan end. You could walk all around the stadium concourse and not be stopped. But, there was no fighting between the rival supporters. So, no FOOTBALL hooliganism in the ground.

We lost the European Cup, had a bit of a nightmare at the hands of the Greek riot plod and 90% of us (including bunkers) stayed to applaud Milan’s trophy presentation. We ended up back in Monastiraki with loads of Milan fans. Loads of ale, loads of singing, and still no FOOTBALL trouble. In fact the Milan lads ended up dancing round the square with the Liverpool lads’ replica European Cup!

There were bad things happening though. The combined forces of UEFA and LFC in the corporate hijacking of the European Cup Final had fed us into the hands of criminals and blaggers, not football hooligans or scallies, but proper full-on organised crime. Self-police that RAWK! I can just see the dawn raids! Thousands of long-time match going regulars desperate for a ticket made a lucrative captive market for touts and forgers alike.

By creating a ticket shortage, a simple manipulation of supply and demand, UEFA (and to a lesser, but more disappointing, extent LFC) had made many tickets worth more money than a second-hand car or a Rolex watch. The potential to make a killing in these circumstances was never going to be ignored in any big city and the blaggers moved into action. At a lower level, lower than a snakes belly level that is, every city has muggers. With the potential to rake in up to a grand from each ticket snatched, the low life was never going to be far away. As for the more opportunist ticket snatcher – well imagine everyone walking through the streets holding a thousand pound watch in the air! It would be fuckin carnage in any town - the bizzies have to tell people to hide mobile phones and MP3 players cos they'll be had off. Would you expect different in a disorganised crowd being bundled into a stadium?

The muggers and robbers were fuck all to do with Liverpool Football Club, the Kop, or any other football thing – for fuck’s sake, some even blame RTK! Muggers on the streets of Athens, tell you what blame some lads who want to sing old-style Liverpool songs. Thatcher couldn’t have dreamt that one up, not even in our darkest days.

The one’s who were something to do with us, though, were the bell ends in Syntagma (spelling?) Square lashing full cans of ale around, the pricks abusing Milan fans without any thought for the tribute the Italians had paid to the Hillsborough victims at the 1989 European Cup semi-final, the gobshites abusing locals without any thought about the links built up with Olympiakos around the Gate 7 disaster, and the cunts who chose to cause a crush and a stampede to get in without any thought for any one at all.

The lashing ale around and the general acting-the-cunt-Mingland-type behaviour is something we have long taken pride in distancing ourselves from. But the writing’s been on the wall for some time, and it’s not just the out of town influence.

Witness the scenes in town last year for the World Cup and compare that to 1990. Last year we had “pebbleheadstock” in Clayton Square, with hundreds of cunts acting just like the rural rioters that took to the streets of middle England after Gazza and co. blew it in Italy. In 1990 there was a calm indifference in Liverpool to the shenanigans at the World Cup; the American Bar (then in its pre “Irish American” state) was adorned with an Irish Tricolour with Yankee Urchins written across it – and Ireland were in Mingland’s group! “No alla Violenza” t-shirts were our antidote to the national team’s divvy following. Fast forward to 2006 and it’s St George crosses everywhere and iron girder in front of the big screen in town – times have changed, Liverpool has its own Sky generation.

How did it come to this?

I look back to the aftermath of Heysel and the formation of the Football Supporters Association in Liverpool as the start of the rebirth of our football culture. We had some growing up to do in 1985 and we did it. That generation, Scousers and long-standing out of towners alike, became the hardcore of our support that is still there today; making up, in fact, the majority of the season ticket holders that were fucked over in ballot #1. We took the worst that the game could throw at us in 1989 and still stuck resolutely to the task, adding to our fan-culture with a proliferation of fanzines. The legendary End and the Farm made crossover between football, terrace clobber and music, even took us clubbing in Manchester! My own What’s the Score? came and went and Ste Kelly’s Through the Wind and Rain has more than passed the test of time.

Self-policing wasn’t needed as such, there was a unity of purpose in our support; justice for Hillsborough, no Kop seats, opposition to ID cards, no racism etc. Also, we used our newly founded media to make our stand against the Mingland Brit abroad culture. Act like some did in that stinking square and you’d have been a laughing stock at best and twatted all over the place at worst. The absolute sea change in the nature of Liverpool’s support since the turn of the century, however, has taken large sections of our long-standing support by surprise. The trickle of 2001 turned into a flood in 2005 and now we’ve got to the situation where a group of people trying to protect what’s left are being slated by the new brigade. A new brigade that thinks “fuck you I’ll do what I like” and then cries when some fuckin street-rat does likewise and has them off.

This is the self-same new brigade that talks of our support as scum, the same people advocating self-policing and grassing on bunkers. The same people who don’t realise that the best way they can make the match an enjoyable and safe experience is to JOIN WITH what’s left of the class of 1985-89 and protect the unique fan culture that was recreated post-Heysel. The Police, UEFA, Liverpool Football Club, the SAS, Al Qaeda, nobody, will make two fucks of an effort to sort out the likes of the rats who swarmed around those who couldn’t fight back in Athens. They’re bombing around every town and city every day and no-one’s doing fuck all about them, so why will anyone act because of a petition on .tv?

The much-maligned RTK is, in reality, the best vehicle we’ve got for protecting and enhancing our fan culture, a vehicle for all of us, Scouse and non-Scouse. Get clued up, join the bandwagon, enjoy the match and stand together as no other group as diverse as us can. Out of town supporters, do what the lads of the 70’s and 80’s did, when it was far more aggressive. Fuckin join in and become part of the big fuck-off party. Don’t stand on the outside acting like a tit and then wonder why you get picked off by the rats. Stop sniping and shitting it, no pebble headed cunt in a Lowey will ever get away with using the “RTK trick” against any clued up wool. Just like the “got the time?”/”where d’ye get yer trainees?/ “lends yer odds” tricks didn’t work on the sound lads from the likes of Doncaster, Wigan and Stoke in the 70s/80s. There’s me fuckin olive branch, take it or leave it!

It was easy for the rats in Athens. The ticketing fiasco, the effect that had on travel arrangements and the lack of accommodation in Athens because of some international conference all led to the old hands being scattered to the four corners. I make no apologies to our woolabilly brethren for this, but the lack of thousands of match going Scousers, lads who were stuck on ferries, trains and in all sorts of Athenian suburbs, made that city a more dangerous, and definitely a less “Liverpool in Europe” like, place for many out of towners.

The Hillsborough comparisons have been grating at me. It was a bit hairy, even more so for the likes of my missus and arl feller. But the Hillsborough crush was fuck all to do with lads trying to storm the gates. We were crushed outside in a bottleneck, with more people trying to get through the bottleneck than our entire allocation for Athens, that the police abandoned and thousands (ALL WITH FUCKIN TICKETS) were allowed to enter an already full pen while the side pens remained largely empty. So leave Hillsborough out of this, it’s about as relevant to Athens as the Bradford fire.

The Athens gate stormers have to recognise this though, the Taylor Inquiry heard evidence of us having prior “form” for turning up ticketless and late (the mass bunk-in at Norwich away in 1988 was mentioned). Luckily Lord Justice Taylor could see the wood for the trees. Even if only for the way it armed our enemies though, the way people were trampled and crushed in Athens during the storming of the gate was an unforgivable and shameful act for Liverpool supporters to be involved in.

BUT, and it’s a big but. For UEFA to throw this “collective responsibility” thing about absolutely beggars belief. For cunts, like some on RAWK and .tv, to accept it is absolutely breathtaking in its naivety. Anyone who puts on an event has a duty of care to provide a safe environment for those attending. How the fuck did UEFA go anywhere near achieving that? By Galliard’s (or whatever he’s called) logic if I pay to go to a concert, I am responsible for policing touts, checking tickets and stopping people gatecrashing. Absolute bollocks of the highest order.

I’ll finish somewhere near where I started, the supporters of both sides saved UEFA’s arse big time and that should be the BIG story. The Olympiakos mass bunk-in to the Olympic Stadium was all over You-Tube but nobody saw fit to guard against similar happening. Liverpool was literally swimming in fake tickets yet nobody saw fit to act upon local Police advice and filter the fakes out. The corporate hijack left us desperate and in disarray, now we’ve got to regroup like in 1985 and leave the hysterics to the tabloids.

There’s loads more but I’ll leave it there, sorry for going on.

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