Football’s governing bodies have offended football fans by assuming that they simply cannot act like ordinary people after the Queen’s death. But we are normal people…
Contrary to the opinion of many, especially in the football authorities and the right-wing media, we football fans are not really bad.
The irony is that the game’s governing bodies, charged with our care and the interests of the game, do not trust us at all. God does not. The speed with which they jumped with both feet to ban matches last weekend, fearing that fans would disrupt any respectful silence, chant expletives, or perhaps the legendary glowing man would make a royal appearance, It was silly. They don’t know us at all, do they?
By the time they realize that they are in fact, if they inadvertently show us what they really think, it is too late. All those other sports have gone ahead, making the so-called ‘Queen’s mark’ in football seem ridiculous and foolish.
The term quickly became so overused that it had already become a widely derided cliché and a mark of some of the more stupid behavior by companies like Center Parcs.
The Football Association, the Premier League and the English Premier League found themselves on the side of people who scrapped cycling proficiency tests and made whistles less noisy. Organizations and companies have been desperate to tell us the signs of respect they bear, all afraid that the Daily Mail and those who worship at its altar, will expose them as people or companies disrespectful to the Queen.
So they ended up being abusive in their pursuit of being non-abusive. What is most ironic is that there was absolutely no indication that the Queen wanted anything to stop, nor is there an official decree for that.
But, of course, when the games resumed, the silence, almost universal, was well observed, the seventy-minute applause was faithfully executed, the national anthem was enthusiastically sung, and everyone went on their way happily enough. Even club mascots bowed their puffy heads of faux fur, and we all love to see that, right?
Admittedly, some took it upon themselves to raise incoherent noises during periods of silence, but no one really knew why. Maybe they just needed to adjust their medication. It wasn’t offensive and didn’t need to be apologised by the commenters. There were no anti-monarchy protests, no expression of disgust with the suppression of unearned privileges and unearned wealth, let alone how such wealth was acquired. Most of those who felt such feelings kept their heads down and waited for everything to be over, feeling that there would be better days and more fertile soil for planting such seeds in the future.
There was the matter of Celtic fans with their outrageous and obvious crest, but that’s their country too. My father has three siblings and Kee lost his ability to empathize to survive fighting Rommel in the African desert – aged only 18 – to allow that Celtic mark. Any institution that cannot survive such a protest is not an institution at all.
The attitude of suspicious primary officials towards fans and how they might behave led to the atrocities of the disasters of the 1980s. Has this situation changed much? Given the doubts we’re clearly trapped in, this past week suggests they have work still to do.
What these bodies should have done was make an affirmation statement that fans would respect the Queen like everyone else because fans *are* everyone else. We are not a different breed or a different animal that we should fear or suspect. We don’t live by different rules. We’re literally you and me, in all our messy glory. And it would be nice to be appreciated like that, instead of having the power and money look at us with frightened and narrow eyes after so many years in the executive chests.
Of course, a small percentage of us behave eerily, but the numbers suggest it’s a much smaller percentage of the whole than the House of Commons. There is your point, there.
It may surprise some managers in the Premier League, the FA and the English Football League, but football fans, like most people, love group celebrations. We’re actually pretty good with them, so we don’t have to worry.
We have been laying flowers at gates, building statues, saluting club servants, and sympathizing with sick children, crime victims and many other people for many years now. They may have suspected that most of them would do this for the Queen is to misunderstand us and also misunderstand the allure of the power of being in a crowd.
Being around a lot of people all doing the same thing is validating that. You feel a power that no one person can feel alone. There is no better place to ask someone to celebrate or mark anything more than a crowded football field. Maybe that’s what they were afraid – the power of the group?
The ironic truth is that football fans owe a mark of respect from the Premier League, the League and all the football associations. We keep them in business and deserve not to be treated like many farm animals who can’t be trusted to behave like civilized creatures. So take your word for it. Treat us with respect and remember that you owe us loyalty because without us, you have absolutely nothing.