Wednesday, 24 October 2012
PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES
Hollie Morris – Sheffield Wednesday fan – talks sense.
I’ve read match reports, social media comments and heard rants about how Leeds fans behaved and how they, as a club, should be ashamed; with some people, most notably Wednesday manager Dave Jones, calling for them to be banned. (“Leeds supporters should be banned from every away ground until they sort it out.”)
But is it something we’ve never seen before? Is what happened on Friday night something that shocked us because we really thought football had moved on, or are some people using their bias against Leeds as a catalyst for ill-thought headhunting? Does this problem lie within each and every club? Aside from the Kirkland assault, the things I saw on Friday night weren’t something new to me.
The fans’ surge towards the North Stand (and then later the South) may well have been in retaliation to a song sung by Wednesday fans. And the song in question may also have been in retaliation to a prior song by the travelling support. But it’s like trying to sort out the chicken and the egg. You have to ask yourself, before condemning Leeds, have you witnessed your own fans doing this before? And if so, would you invite the same condemnation upon every one of your supporters?
A few years ago at Barnsley away the Wednesday fans charged towards Barnsley’s East Stand, with supporters breaching the barrier and clashing. Our fans began this push towards the Barnsley fans and the Tykes retaliated. At this point, I was stood amongst friends at the back of the stand; do I deserve to be lumped in with those fans that had tried to get at their Barnsley counterparts? There may have been fans behind their goal watching on, in the same way we were on Friday, in disgust. They may have been sat with their children, just like those Wednesday fans who are now debating whether to return to the football.
On Friday, I sat on the front of the Kop in my season ticket seat and couldn’t hear either the alleged song about Istanbul, or the chanting about the disaster. But I did hear the songs regarding Dave Jones and the Jimmy Savile chants that DJ also mentioned in his post-match press conference. Again, though, is this something confined to Leeds fans?
At the time I was disappointed in the songs I heard. And in previous games this season, particularly Millwall and Hull, I have felt the same frustrations with opposition fans chanting things I have felt were, even for football, below the belt. But Wednesday fans may want to get off their high horse now. I went to Ipswich away in 2006 – the year that Steve Wright had committed his serial murders across Suffolk. I’ll not have to enlighten you as to what was chanted at their fans, nor will I baffle you with what was said, affably, about Moors murderer, Ian Brady. When did distastefulness lie under the heading of “banter”? When I was a kid, my Granddad used to call us “Sheffield Wednesday nil” in jest that we could never score. At what point did that turn into the sorry state we have now? Banter has now become a “who can be the most disgusting, repugnant and repulsive” contest.
At Charlton away in recent years I’ve felt the worst I have felt as a Wednesday fan, as a fan of football in general, and as a fellow human being, to be associated with the groups of our own fans we came into contact with. On the train, tube, and out on the street, continuous, unrelenting racism and vile, abhorrent abuse was chanted at general members of the public, not even involved with the “society” of football. A lady was at the station waiting for her train by herself and Wednesday fans took it upon themselves to shout abuse at her and then stroll off as if it was her fault, and she was “fair game”, as it was football day.
After this particular football match, I went home and seriously considered whether to go to any more away games. I didn’t want to be associated with these fans, and if this is what Sheffield Wednesday brought with it, I didn’t want to be a part. It wasn’t all the travelling support. But the loudest are the ones that get heard, and as representatives of our club, they had left me thoroughly embarrassed, ashamed and downright disgusted in how Sheffield Wednesday was to be perceived by others.
This is what some Leeds fans felt the other night. Some of the people I’ve met through the football are some of the very best people you could wish to meet, and are an absolute age away from the Neanderthal support witnessed at Charlton. Living in West Yorkshire, I know a lot of Leeds fans; Leeds fans that would have felt as I did had it been them at Charlton.
There were advertising boards being thrown from the top of Leppings Lane onto the fans below and, again, having travelled to Rochdale last season, wonder what the ‘Dale fans thought, looking on to the boards being ripped from their ground to the tune of “We’ll do what we want”? These people do not represent every person at the club. At our club; at Leeds; or at any club that we see these things at.
As of last season, I personally felt that a section of Wednesday fans had taken on their own persona – “we’ll do what we want” becoming the motto for this idiocy. I hated it last season, and I hate it now. I hate that flares have become something “we do” now. At Crystal Palace, kids near us were crying because an idiot had brought a smoke bomb, then decided they didn’t want to have it near them and thrown it in our direction. I do not associate myself, or any of my friends, with these people, and we should assume the same stance towards other clubs.
Wednesday cannot condemn Leeds because of bias against a local rival. Because of a dislike for Ken Bates or Neil Warnock. Because we hate “Marching on Together". Or even because Howard Wilkinson left us and did ‘you know what’ with Leeds a few seasons later (well... maybe a little bit).
We can condemn the people that truly believe they’ll “do what they want”, and those people that show football, and football fans, up as the long standing (and untrue) stereotype. They’re not Sheffield Wednesday. They’re not Leeds United. They do not belong to football.