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Best Behaviour

Ahead of the Manchester derby in 2008, Manchester City requested that instead of having a minute’s silence to mark the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster, we have a minute’s applause instead.

“With a minute’s applause there would be less chance of any abuse,” said Alan Galley, chairman of the Manchester City Supporters Club. “There’s going to be 70,000-odd people there and 3,000 of us there. It only needs a mobile phone or something to go off during that minute’s silence to create a chain of events. My belief is that the vast majority of the fans will observe the minute’s silence but I have to say that we do feel that maybe there will be a very small minority who will mar the event. It was a very tragic event. A minute’s applause seems to be the norm these days to mark things like this. We want our fans to show a mark of respect for the Munich anniversary and we think it would be far better achieved with a minute’s applause.”

City were rightfully worried that their fans were going to embarrass them. Let’s not forget, this is a club that referred to United in their official match day programme as “Munichs” once before, the name that is commonplace amongst blues in reference to our club and fans, with their chants about the tragedy not just sung by a quiet minority. The eyes of the world were watching and all it would take was one scum bag for all hell to break lose.

United dismissed their request, rightfully stating that silence was the most appropriate way to mark the anniversary.

“Manchester United have given great thought to the best way of remembering those who died at Munich. We feel a minute’s silence is the most appropriate way of paying tribute. We do not feel that applause is appropriate given that 23 people died.”

City fans observed the silence and even sang “there’s only one Frank Swift” in remembrance of their former goalie who died in the crash, with his family in attendance at Old Trafford that day. Swift joined City when he was a teenager and ranks in the top 20 for most all time appearances. This was the first and last time this song was sung.

Later that year we played City away and the chants were back. They had behaved for 90 minutes on the anniversary but it was business as usual once they didn’t have cameras pointing at them.

Daniel Taylor summed up City’s behaviour in his article in The Guardian: City’s supporters did themselves proud. There is still an element of mystery about who let off fireworks outside the ground but, inside, the 3,000 people in the away end all respected the silence. “We are impeccable,” they later sang, and who could disagree? And, yet, wind forward nine months and suddenly it is all exposed as a one-off. A con. The game had not kicked off when the first City supporters in close vicinity to the away end could be seen doing pretend aeroplane gestures. OK, there were only half a dozen of them. But there were significantly more, 16 minutes into the game, who were calling Nemanja Vidic a “dirty Munich bastard” (after Micah Richards had actually sunk his studs into his opponent’s chest). And, again, five minutes later when we got a rendition of “same old Munichs, always cheating.” You get the idea.

It embarrasses the club. It embarrasses many of their supporters. And it embarrasses all those proud old players who grew up as mates of the eight members of Matt Busby’s team who died. Maybe the perpetrators don’t realise how it sounds to someone like Sir Bobby Charlton in the directors’ box. Or maybe they do, and that’s the point. “We are impeccable”?

United find themselves in a similar predicament to City in 2008 ahead of our trip to Anfield this weekend. Emotions have been heightened this week after papers like The Daily Express wrote articles under the headline “Manchester United fans mock Hillsborough tragedy”. The chant that lead to this false accusation was “always the victims, it’s never your fault” which started doing the rounds following Liverpool FC’s support of Luis Suarez and refusal to accept his guilt for racially abusing Patrice Evra. This song is an attack on the scouse mentality, the people who mourned a dead chicken, the people who were widely criticised for their reaction to the tragic case of Jamie Bulger, the people who blamed the deaths at Heysel on “Chelsea fans”, the people who rallied behind a man convicted of attempted murder who still hasn’t had his guilty verdict overturned just because he was “one of them“, and the people who claimed that Suarez was being “friendly” to Evra that day at Anfield when he called him “negro”. It’s far easier for the press to claim the song is about Hillsborough though, that United fans mock the tragedy en masse every single week, than it is for them to look at the real reasons for it being sung.

So, that is the backdrop for Sunday’s game and there will be some Liverpool fans inside Anfield that would just love for United to show themselves up and make fun of the fact 96 innocent people died at Hillsborough. They’d love it so much they’ll be more than happy to do their aeroplane impressions or get their inflatable aeroplanes out to provoke. Maybe they’ll chant Munich, not to provoke, but as what they see as a response to the Hillsborough chants they were wrongly told we sung last weekend. If Liverpool fans do those things on Sunday, it will be a few idiots and I sincerely hope the few idiots in the away section can control themselves. Some people on both sides seem to completely detach themselves from the fact they are laughing at people dying and will do or say anything to get a rise out of each other.

Nothing can be done to make the hatred go away and why would we want it to? That tribalism is what help makes football the most popular sport in the world. But we cannot have idiots in our crowd singing about Hillsborough on Sunday. Those going have to be self-policing, and give a clip round the ear to any kid that is tempted to make us all look like proper scum bags. Whilst I strongly oppose the notion that those singing “always the victim” are singing it with Hillsborough in mind, that is what the press have told us it’s about, so rather than being right on Sunday, it’d be better if we could be less stubborn and not give everyone a stick to beat us with.

Instead, let’s sing about Cantona, about nineteen times, about the Busby Babes, about Diego Forlan… then sit back and let them boo the victim of racial abuse.

I’ll leave you with this statement from MUST: Fans will be aware that there has been significant interest in the media about offensive chanting and gestures in reference to the Hillsborough and Munich disasters that befell the two clubs. As a consequence, we understand that Merseyside police and Liverpool stewards will be looking to take action against any individuals identified as engaging in this type of behaviour, whether they be United or Liverpool supporters.

Given the reaction to Saturday’s chants of “always the victims”, many United fans have pointed out that the song is not a reference to Hillsborough, which has also been acknowledged by Sir Alex Ferguson at his press conference. However in the current context, regardless of the motivation, it clearly may be perceived by Liverpool supporters, sections of the media, and indeed – judging by feedback – some United supporters, as inappropriate on Sunday.

It is not the role of MUST to tell any United supporter how to support their club but we do wish to reiterate the position of our organisation. We agree 100% with the statement made by Sir Alex Ferguson and wish is to leave no room for doubt – we unequivocally condemn chants mocking the Munich air crash, Hillsborough and indeed any other human tragedy.

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About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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44 Comments

  1. DreadedRed says:

    Hear! Hear Scott the Red!

    “We cannot have idiots in our crowd singing about Hillsborough on Sunday. Those going have to be self-policing, and give a clip round the ear to any kid that is tempted to make us all look like proper scum bags… it’d be better if we could be less stubborn and not give everyone a stick to beat us with. Let’s sing about Cantona, about nineteen times, about the Busby Babes, about Diego Forlan… then sit back and let them boo the victim of racial abuse.”

    Well said Scott, well said indeed.

  2. samriley9 says:

    Should be an emotional moment on sunday, i will be very proud of our fans if we respect the silence!

    Cannot wait for this game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. DreadedRed says:

    Captain Nemanja Vidic says:

    “There is a lot of history with these two clubs. We have some history as well, we have some tragedies, just like Liverpool. We should respect each other because we are big clubs and clubs that are respected in the world. We have to show an example and be on top of the bad situation and behave well and, I would say, be an example.”

    “To be fair, I don’t want to think about that [Evra/Suarez] handshake. If they shake hands, they shake hands – I don’t think it’s the most important thing in the world. It’s important to not do any stupid things in the game, to go there and play football – what we dream of, to play that derby and to be all about the football, not about the fighting or any other things. We want to focus on the game. We have a theme, what happened in history about the fans and we have to respect that day. Obviously we cannot come with any other issues, we just come there to play football.”

    “Football is important, but it is never more important than life, any life. It doesn’t matter if it’s in England or Serbia or any part of the world, but football has had to deal with many tragedies too. At Anfield, we are on a test again, but I think Manchester United fans are always an example of how supporters should behave. I don’t have doubts that there will be a great atmosphere and there will be a good mood and they will support their players.”

    “I would just tell them to support their team. I don’t have doubts that they will support us well. I have read about Hillsborough. It’s a long time ago, but most important is that we have to respect any life and I think that we will do it on that day. I don’t think it will be different for Liverpool fans. I don’t know why we have to talk at all about the bad image. I agree we have to go to the people and say don’t do anything bad. But they are coming there to enjoy the football and to support their teams. I’ve been here for seven years and I think our fans always behave well and they will do it again.”

  4. DreadedRed says:

    Michael Carrick says:

    “After what has gone on there is added responsibility on the players for everything to go smoothly. We will be doing our utmost to make sure that is the case. It is a heated game because it is a great football match. It is a rivalry of two great clubs with great histories and traditions. It is what makes the game so special, a classic game worldwide. Hopefully it will be a cracking game of football because it is vital that after Sunday, everyone is talking about the football.”

  5. philco says:

    All things being even, the Scousers will let themselves down.
    They can’t help it, its their nature. I say let them and let the world see them for what they are.

    There’s only one UTD.

  6. FletchTHEMAN says:

    United have the best traveling support on the planet. I have zero worry that they will do us proud. I do have a worry that pool fans will start in with stuff about evra or munich and things will kick off. But as for us starting it, I think not.

    Let’s give our traveling support the credit they rightly deserve. Second to none!

    It is going to be incredibly emotional day for Pool. I would be very surprised if we don’t win it. We have lost several similarly charged affairs at OT. No fault that emotional games take their toll on home players.

    We could very well win this by a margin.

  7. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Oh right, Very good piece Scott. You seem to be feeling your oats this week. Good on ya mate!

  8. TonyBee says:

    Fuck em

  9. TonyBee says:

    If anyone thinks for one moment the dippers will keep quiet…. Just wait and see… They have fallen behind Utd and they know it and they will be all out to cause some bother … And what’s the betting if Evra plays the handshake is missed …

  10. DreadedRed says:

    Sir Alex Ferguson’s record vs Liverpool:

    61 Played
    28 Won
    14 Drawn
    19 Lost
    80 Goals For
    72 Goals Against

  11. The Left Bank says:

    I’ve always found chants about any human tragedy for whichever club as sick. It shows a smallness to use genuine suffering and loss such as Munich, Hillsborough and other tragic events for a game of football.

    That’s not football.

    There’s plenty of history to sing and banter and goad (in a fun way) opposing fans without resorting to things nothing to do with a strong and healthy football rivalry.

    I agree that the media is just fishing for a story when our lads play Liverpool. Despite the ‘innocence’ of ‘always the victims’ song, the media narrative spin is now set. That pisses me off but it’s the way it goes.

    I’m sure we can find plenty of other good natured songs to tease and provoke Liverpool fans without the media making a big deal of it.

    Whose taking bets that twat Sachin Nakrani, an alleged Guardian journalist and self-confessed Liverpool fan, isn’t going to stick the knife in anyway?

    We best concentrate on the football and get behind our team as we always do.

  12. wiuru says:

    Every ABU in the land will be hoping we feck up Sunday .Every Scouse supporter will be hoping so to .Not because of Hillsborough although i know the genuine fans would want an honourable silence .Deep down they have been stung by the fact that no matter how they bleated ,the world and its dog ,knows United acted with dignity throughout the Suarez affair .They LFC backed a liar and were left red faced.They want their woe is me back !
    We no doubt will have the idiot prepared to do whatever it takes to get his ten seconds of fame .I trully hope our away support can self police but i wont hold my breath . Its wait and see time .

  13. Red Robin says:

    Ok I have made up my mind. Its really better for us not to sing “always the victim, its never your fault”. I just didn’t like that Liverpool fans told us to do so in a Manchester United blog. And, its not a chant about Hillsborough. Period.

  14. redbilly says:

    Good article scott. thanks. just sing ‘united’.

  15. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    Seriously this is a superb article from scott. We simply CANNOT have any offensive chanting from our end on Sunday. Retaliation is NEVER the answer. Just sing generic united songs that have nothing to do with Liverpool and we should be fine. COME ON BOYS!!! we’re going to Anfield to WIN.

  16. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    LMAO I also found it funny that they actually mourned the death of a chicken. LOL Boris Johnson was right Liverpudians are “hooked on grief” LMAO. ANYTHING to be in the papers. haha.

  17. Phil says:

    I agree with DreadedRed – well said Scott

  18. AlphaRS says:

    Singing “We’re Man United, We’ll Sing What We Want” out of the question then?

  19. Doghouse says:

    “It’s never your fault” might not be intended as a Hillsborough song, but let’s face it even if it isn’t it might as well be. It strays way too close to the line on that subject. And that’s even if you trust that nobody who sings it has Hillsborough in mind. We need to bin that song. We have many, many others.

    I find it interesting that on this day, at that ground, the attention is on United. This is what you get when you knock them off the perch ladies and gentlemen, you get all the eyes on you, and how you conduct yourselves.

    Personally I think a lot of the United folks in the wake of the Hillsborough report have made dicks of themselves. We ought to stand with Liverpool on this because it’s not just about Liverpool, it never was just about them, it was about football fans and about working class people and how the government thought it was better to smear them as drunks and hooligans than to take responsibility for police brutality and incompetence. It could have been our fans that day and we should all be pleased that Liverpool has vindicated itself. Ordinary decent folks have bigger and much more dangerous opponents than the rivals of their football club and we should not forget that ever.

    I find it really fucking sad to be honest that people would ever allow a sporting rivalry to cloud their thinking on an issue as important as Hillsborough. We can all hate Scousers on the terraces, we all should, but as football fans, as ordinary people trying to watch a game without getting killed by police incompetence, we are just the same as they are. Let’s face it if it hadn’t been Scousers at Hillsborough it would have been somebody else somewhere else, they took the bullet that English football fans had been dodging for a while. And how happy would we be to be the victims of the national media hatchet job that followed?

    I don’t think I could ever bring myself to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone, but I could definitely almost nearly consider thinking about doing it if I was at Anfield this Sunday.

  20. belfast red. says:

    The best way to fuck them up and the papers is to gve them a Good fuckin hammering.. our away supporters r the best bar none nd im behind them what ever happens. No doubt those hateful cunts will start it. And the best way to reply is by beating them convincingly… On the pitch.

  21. FletchTHEMAN says:

    From manutd.com

    Munich survivor Harry Gregg spoke very eloquently as always and former Anfield striker Robbie Fowler was in agreement – both of them advocated stadium bans for fans who chant about the 1958 air disaster or the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy.

    Harry Gregg: “I’m all for freedom of speech but there’s also something called respect”

  22. AlphaRS says:

    This is an extract of an email my mate sent me when we were talking about Hillsbrough. We were discussing the verdict and how the police are now solely to blame for the tragedy. No mention of ticketless fans charging their way in then or ticketless fans climbing over gates to get in to the ground then?

    “Anyway, funny I don’t actually feel the ‘verdict’ on Hillsborough is correct myself. The idea that it is solely the responsibility of either the police or ‘the fan’s’ is some sort of joke, nothings like that is ever that black and white. Sure the Police didn’t do a great job (& altering statements is really bad) but that’s how football was policed back then. The given premise that the police somehow caused the disaster (which is now the agreed ‘political line’ – no doubt the torries or liberals are after votes in Liverpool) is not true either. It was a combination of factors. Too many fans (some drunk some not) trying to get into the ground, too late, Police misreading things etc. I bet in those days there were regular crushes on terraces (the Kop used to ‘move’ like a wave) just few got to that level. As much as I didn’t agree that LFC fans were totally to blame, now I think they’ve gone too far the other way and are effectively trying to put the blame on some old people, many of whom will have only been doing their best in very trying, semi violent and intimidating circumstances. Football crowds weren’t as ‘middle class’ back then as they are now, it was different and there was always the threat of something kicking off. You’re right that Heysel is somewhat underplayed.”

  23. TonyBee says:

    who the fuck are Liverpool to tell us what to fucking sing….. too many bleeding heart liberals on here today….oh yes we shouldn’t do that …or oh no we must do this…
    WE WILL SING WHAT WE WHAT AND FUCK LIVERPOOL

  24. Reddevil61 says:

    If hillsborough hadn’t happened them murderers would still be singin Munich songs , r u all under the age of 35 because think forgot what twats they were and still r . Always the victim !

  25. Jay says:

    Ban those who sing offensive remarks that is the only way to stop it. Both clubs have been soft in dealing with the disgusting chants. Zero tolerance is the only way it will die out. If that means taking out half the crowd or halting a game, then people will take it seriously.

  26. Red Robin says:

    TatataatAratarataaaaTatataratara racist bastard!

  27. Reddevil61 says:

    Jay
    Go eat ya prawn sandwich, the chants aren’t about hillsborough

  28. Jay says:

    Reading is fundamental, which you clearly cannot grasp my friend. Any chanting that mocks Munich or Hillsborough should be rightly banned don’t you think.

  29. Reddevil61 says:

    Jay the grounds would be empty , I’ve not heard hillsborough songs sung at o/t or away games because them murderrin twats know what would happen

  30. brett1985 says:

    Doghouse

    I completely agree about how ‘always the victim’ strays too close to the line. I think this is an ideal time to end any chants that make any reference to a football tragedy regardless of the context. Yet, prominent reds like Scott the Red lack the leadership and vision to do this. They are too caught up in tribalism. Chants like we’ve won it three times and always the victim are ones we can do without. As you rightly point out doghouse we still have a great repertoire of other chants which are clever and satisfying.

  31. Doghouse says:

    Anybody who doesn’t think the “Never Your Fault” chant doesn’t have at least a passing significance to Hillsborough probably needs to pipe down. You can argue what you think it means until you’re blue in the face but fuck that. You know who else thinks they have the right to decide what words mean? Suarez and Terry. Oh black cunt wasn’t being racist, I call every black friend of mine negro it’s not racist. Bullshit. And it’s the same bullshit with United fans who cannot see that “Never Your Fault” is a pretty fucking clear Hillsborough song, and it wouldn’t exist had Hillsborough not happened and helped to create the stereotype of Scousers blaming others.

    It’s shameful to see how many people are willing to do the dirty work for Thatcher and Murdoch and the Yorkshire filth by continuing to spread hatred about Liverpool even in the face of the facts. And that’s what it is. Divide and rule, a scar from the days when the Tories were basically dedicated to fucking the North out of its industry and unions and were willing to use football to divide us against each other. Anybody who doesn’t recognise this as a political issue is a fool.

    As I said before, in football terms, I fucking loathe the Scouse. But it’s childish to let football loyalties divide people like this in the face of real issues. You think Sir Matt Busby would be proud of the way some of this juvenile pricks claiming to support this club carry themselves? You think Sir Alex would be impressed? People need to grow the fuck up and realise that grown ups carry themselves with a little bit more class. All this, “But they do it too!” bullshit should have been left behind in primary school. We as fans are responsible for the reputation and for want of a better word the honour of this football club, and it sickens me that people are happy to see us mimic the behaviour of the worst fans in the country. Our football club deserves better. The fans in the terraces are representing us on the world stage, and when they spew hateful bile they are letting the club down every bit as much as a player would if he made a gigantic cock of himself.

  32. brett1985 says:

    Doghouse

    Yep, the measure of our supporters conduct should be to ask themselves ‘what would Sir Matt do?’ It seems to me that a lot of folk on here don’t really set their standards high. Let’s show some responsibility and act like adults. I’m sorry but the days of turning football rivalries into bitter fueds where you actually genuinely hate people for reasons other than football banter are dieing out.

  33. Red Robin says:

    Some more Liverpool fans wanking on United blog.

  34. Red Robin says:

    Doghouse & Brett

    Go on lads. Just don’t forget to clean the wall. You bring some tissue with you?

  35. Redbilly says:

    Doghouse 18:05- excellent post. . If one benchmarks behaviour on others , in yhis case scouse. How low will fans go. Don’t behave like them . Don’t base your standards on the scouse for those standards will have to fall. Simple.

  36. Doghouse says:

    I like the tribalism. I just like my tribe not to act like Leeds scum.

  37. Keanoisdaman says:

    some proper pricks on here,anyone,cant you just hold your tongue for one game? just because some of the scousers act like cunts and sing munich songs etc doesnt mean that we have to lower ourselves.To me anyone that sings songs about the dead are scum end of,I know the “murderers” and the “always the victim” songs arnt about hilsborough but in the eyes of the world this sunday they will be,shite songs anyway…but if you feel the need to show the world what a top red you are,at least give it a rest for one weekend.And yes Im over 35 and been watchin utd since the early 70`s.

  38. James7t7 says:

    Well said Scott… Hopefully the day will go through without any trouble and that we come away with 3 pts.

    Matches like these Van Persie are opportunities for RVP to show his worth.

    GGMU!

  39. StatesideAussie says:

    Whatever the intended meaning of “It’s Never Your Fault”, given the findings of the report into Hillsborough (that the tragedy was not the fault of the dippers), it’s inevitable that the song will be seen as a sarcastic comment on that.

    Anyway, excellent article by Scott on a sensitive and very important topic.

  40. StatesideAussie says:

    Doghouse … excellent post at 18:05, real belter. “Our football club deserves better.”? Too right it does.

    As you say, this thing about “they do it too” is just nonsense. Think of it this way: Let’s say I we’re driving along and I beep my horn at you, and you give me the finger and yell out that I’m a cunt. The next time we pass each other, I beep my horn again, and am rewarded with the finger and a gob full of abuse. Now I know exactly how you’ll respond whenever I toot my horn. So who has control here? Not you. I do. Because I’m the one with the power to make you behave in a certain way: I can push your button any time I like.

    More importantly: what do you need to do to take control back from me? Simples: just ignore me. I may keep beeping my horn a few times, but pretty soon I’ll get the idea that it’s not working any more, so then I’ll stop. Sure, I might try to find other ways to punch your buttons, but so long as you are determined that you will stay in control of your own behavior, there’s not much I can do about it. And meanwhile, as my attempts become more and more desperate, I start to run big risks that I’ll get myself into trouble.

  41. tom c says:

    Stateside

    Spot on mate.

    Jesus this place’s turning into a shithole, whatever happened to friendly banter and exchange of opinion instead of name calling and all that.. this internet anonymity seems to have gotten to people’s heads.

  42. King Eric says:

    Ha Ha. “Mourned a dead chicken” . fucking quality.

  43. King Eric says:

    Ha Doghouse getting called a scouser. One of best posters on here. Great posts pal.

  44. Giggs' rocket powered zimmerframe says:

    I find some of the ‘fans’ on here reprehensible. Tony Bee and reddevil61, you are both pathetic, moronic, idiotic lowlife pondscum. Where human interest is the pinnacle of this game, you choose to let your unbridled hate and tribalism take over. Scousers are people too, despite the rivalry we enjoy with them. Fucking grow up and put your misguided apathy, hate and loathing to bed for one day when the football is not as significant as the remeberence of the loss of human life and the tragedy that ensued that day at hillsborough. You lot will be the first to cry blue murder if Munich chants were sung. Have some fucking empathy.

    Cue the illiterate/abusive responses from the fools who don’t know how to put their point across in any other way. The emptiest vessels resonate loudest.

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