Time to Take a Stand On Vile Chants

Enough is enough.

Sometimes I find myself singing songs without realising it. Once, and this is strictly between us, I found myself humming You’ll Never Walk Alone as the Liverpool away supporters screamed it at Old Trafford. It was a very brief moment but I’m still a bit scarred.

I sing about Owen Hargreaves (he’s a footballer, you may remember him): ‘You are the love of my life. Oh Owen Hargreaves I’d let you sh*g my wife, Oh Owen Hargreaves I want curly hair too.’

I don’t have a wife, I have a husband and as much as Owen seems a nice enough chap I wouldn’t let him anywhere near. Owen isn’t the love of my life and I avoided bread crusts as a child just in case they did encourage curly hair. I don’t mean one bit of that song.

United fans sing that when Johnny goes marching down the wing we all know that Johnny is going to score. Do we? How many of us put a wager on it? If I actually saw O’Shea march down the wing this season and rifle the ball into the net you could knock me down with a feather.

Football isn’t coming home. Your team is not the greatest the world has ever seen. We don’t do what we want.

Football chants are not renowned worldwide for their accuracy. However the majority of untruths are harmless. Mainly due to a necessity for rhyme, simplicity, and a bit of a brag. We sing many without thinking about it, we just join in. It can be a tribal thing, if you had mini debates in stands about how appropriate each chant was then you’d never get one going.

However we can’t use this as an excuse to behave like idiots. Let me re-phrase that as we football followers often behave like idiots, albeit harmless idiots; We can’t use this as an excuse to throw vile insults at people and joke about the deaths of others.

Manchester City have been singing about Munich for decades, indeed many of their supporters simply refer to United as Munich and United supporters as Munichs. This week the football world became outraged when City’s new song about YaYa Toure putting the ball in the Munich’s net was heard clearly on the TV. Some City supporters have made an effort this week to stop it; I had a Facebook group encouraging that sent to me this morning.

Some City supporters though are struggling to see what all the fuss is about. They correctly point out they’ve been singing a song about Carlos Tevez hating ‘Munichs’ since he joined, without much fuss about it. They say they don’t mean any harm in it, it’s just a song.

So why all the fuss now then? I feel we’ve had some events in recent weeks which have made us all think a bit about how we and others behave in football grounds. The Respect campaign was one, the Hillsborough anniversary another. The well received BBC drama about the events surrounding the Munich disaster was the most recent and seems to have provided a platform for further debate.

However that debate often becomes incredibly partisan. Your fans do it too. Get your own house in order before criticising others. Complaining about those chants is hypocritical. Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. He said, she said, you started it first.

There almost seems to be a misconception that whenever you criticise these chants you’re concurrently clearing your own group of supporters of any blame for doing similar. Sounds silly doesn’t it? That’s what many think though.

United can’t complain about Munich chants until no United supporters sing about any other tragedies or call Wenger a paedophile. That would therefore mean that Liverpool had no call to complain about Hillsborough chants until no supporters made aeroplane signs. Now do people see how ridiculous that stance is?

If we want to change this and stop all of these chants than that position needs to be one taken by a decreasing minority. We need to be ready to criticise our own support and accept criticism without it becoming a partisan issue. We all have an opportunity right now to be progressive on this, to drive it out and make those taking part feel as marginalised as those Neanderthals who still think it’s fine to be racist at football grounds.

It’s not up to the FA though. It’s not even up to the clubs involved. It has to come from us.

Follow Annie on Twitter @AnnieEaves

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