Deftones - Beware
You should know I could never make it work
Richard and Linda Thompson - I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
A couple of drunken nights rolling on the floor
Is just the kind of mess I’m looking for
It would be so cool if just one thing broke my way. Soon.
The Magnetic Fields - You Must Be Out Of Your Mind
You want what you turned off turned on
You call it sunset, now it’s dawn
You can’t go around just saying stuff
Because it’s pretty
And I no longer drink enough
To think you’re witty
The most pleasantly crafted insult song you will probably hear this morning.
That someone or someones decided that putting human beings in ‘pens’ during sporting events tells me everything I need to know about the attitudes of those in ‘control’ of crowd safety.
Jack, I missed it if you blogged about Hillsborough or the 30 for 30, but would you give me/us your perspective as one who stood on the terraces before Hillsborough? What was it like? How big a role did football culture play in your father sending you to America?
I wrote about it here on the Sunday before, when Liverpool were playing City at Anfield.
Others may have differing opinions on the terraces, and if you read closely enough, you can see that there are some that want to bring them back. From a supporter’s point of view (and when I say supporter, I don’t mean a ticket-buying family out for a Saturday bit of fun), it was a sense of togetherness and belonging. It was also a sense of gang mentality, a way to whip already alcohol-fueled men into a frenzy, and quite frankly, it was a way to keep the animals in (hence the name, pens).
If you watch the old footage on youtube when the pens were still in vogue, you don’t see lines and lines of stewards near the pens. You would see armies of drunks, especially at places like Millwall, QPR and Chelsea, who chanted every racist-vile-misogynistic-homophobic-antisemitist thing they could think of. Of course, every stadium I went to in London was frightening when I was young, but once you’re in a few scraps with your mates and you come out of it okay, you can start to feel more empowered to chant right back at them and look for them in the street after the matches were over. That’s another big difference between then and now, of course. Now, as an opposing supporter, you are carefully guarded after the match ends and you sit in the stands until the home supporters are away from the area (especially at places like the Emirates and White Hart Lane - the walk to the nearest Underground stop at both is either tricky or very long). Then, as soon as the match was over, we marched right out along with the oppo supporters and just looked for each other.
The pens did that to you. You were trapped inside with thousands of angry loud obnoxious drunks, and the other end of the stadium was the same way, and you needed more of a release than just the match could provide.
As far as the stampede at Hillsborough and the resultant aftermath, it was not surprising at all that it went like that from start to finish. Liverpool fans had long been known to be a bit impatient (and had been the cause of deaths at Heysel in 1985). Of course when you make people wait, and seemingly have very little clue in the way to handle a massive, angry and possibly-getting-hostile crowd, the last thing you want to do is what they did. They open the gate, people stream in and want to go to the nearest pen, not realizing that it’s mostly full (because they filled in pretty naturally from front to back) and the crush starts. It was shocking that it hadn’t happened before. Police back then were trained to handle things at matches with outright violence towards the offending parties and to be honest, I guess that wasn’t surprising because we were a violent lot.
Now, all that being said, the pens evolved from a natural want to contain the fiercest supporters amongst themselves. They were cheaper tickets, footy was still a sport for the lower classes, and they were meant to be a way to allow all to attend the matches. That was the twisted rationale even after violence erupted all over the place in the 60’s and 70’s. The FA should have done the right thing and gone to all-seaters then, but they move glacially on the best of days and all the English versions of Bob Costas would sit on telly and decry the violence while gleefully touting the golden age of English football (after winning the 1966 World Cup, we got super haughty for awhile).
I was exiled for a fight that happened after a Spurs-Chelsea FA Cup match. I was messed up pretty badly, a friend of mine was stabbed and in the hospital for awhile, and my father had had enough. He was buying a seated ticket and wanted me gone because I was too interested in the violent lifestyle. If you want to draw a line between that fight and being in the pens from age six to sixteen, so be it, I don’t think it’s a poor conclusion.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Subway
I lost you on the subway car
Got caught without my metro card
I waited and I waited for the express train
Wanna catch up to you wherever you are
They do have songs other than “Maps”, in case you weren’t aware.
WE ARE ALL RALPH
RALPH IS ALL OF US