Them and Us

By Philip Bruce : August 21st 2018

As the new season gets underway, I’d like to think that this piece from 5 years ago would no longer be relevant. If anything, the football ‘industry’ has become even more corrupt and corporatized. Blatter’s gone but FIFA is still an obscenity. Clubs are the playthings of franchise merchants, torture state despots and gas billionaire gangsters. Players go for £200 million and earn more in wages than some country’s GDP.
Are we, as fans, complicit in this disgusting trade off between talent and TV totalitarianism? We all want to see the best players compete whether at our own grounds or on the telly. Players at this level don’t come cheap.
As with politics, we can feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the problem. How can we as individuals, or collectively, shift the power of balance between the clubs, the administrators, the sponsors, the funders and the fans?
FLAF can at least TRY. Fascism is an ideology that thrives upon division and as football fans of different teams, of course we have ‘rivalries’ but we also share the same beliefs and attitudes towards those that can only seek to spread their hatred.
The rise of the so-called FLA/DFLA/DVLA goes hand in hand with the rise of the Angry White Middle Aged Male (Aw mam!) – those with the least to gain from the system they so vociferously defend. They are being used by the wealthy, as they always are, to protect a system that betrays them and lies to them. You can make it! If you just try hard enough and believe in yourself, you will succeed! It’s not YOUR fault you are poor, it’s all those immigrants taking what’s yours. Look an eagle! Diversion tactics and outright propaganda is used to camouflage the real scroungers and leeches that feed off the poor.
As you sit in your seat and watch your team at whatever level but especially in the premiership, it’s hard to connect to a wider feeling of anger and frustration at the way we as fans, as customers, as consumers are being taken for granted and exploited by the corporate elites running the sport for their own benefit.
Many of our biggest clubs are located in some of the worst areas of social deprivation in the country. What do they give back to these communities? It’s our duty to demand social responsibility and REAL community action, not tokenistic gestures.
Here’s an idea; demand clubs donate a percentage of season tickets to be used by community groups from the poorest areas. Allow hard up families to watch their heroes even if only for one game a season. If the clubs don’t do it, let us donate or pool season tickets to help others out.
It was my dad’s 80th birthday last November. He used to take me to Anfield when I was about 6 or 7 (don’t get me started on this one, it’s a long story) but his car got robbed in 75 and he stopped going. A friend borrowed my his and his mate’s season tickets so he could attend the Liverpool v Chelsea game last season with my brother. He was sat in the new main stand right at the top. It was a night game. It was freezing. His legs aren’t great. Our kid said he never stopped moaning. The stadium and the culture was alien to him.
The only time I remembered going in to the main stand with him (it was usually the Kemlyn Road if we had seats) was a game against Chelsea in the early 70s. I remember it vividly because there was a mob of Chelsea loons below us in the boy’s pen throwing slings of some sort into the corner of the Kop.
We did an early dart and as we left the stadium, we passed the Cockney hooligans all begging the stewards not to throw them out. In the car park outside thousands of scouse lads had gathered, baying for Chelsea blood. Me dad grabbed my hand and lead us through the scrum. It was thrilling! I’ve spent the past 40 odd years trying to recapture that moment.
Maybe this is dewy eyed sentimentality for a fan culture that no longer exists. Yet there is a feeling among many fans that their voices can be heard and need to be heard. The fight back has begun. If FLAF can act against the fascists and frauds that attach themselves to this great sport, then let’s do it right!