Don’t be surprised by Liverpool supporters showing disdain toward the establishment at Wembley

Big finals give the fans a chance to broadcast their beliefs to a worldwide television audience. Monarchists and Conservatives look away now

Tony Evans
Sunday 27 February 2022 14:56
Comments
<p>When you doff your hat to the class system and vote for Boris Johnson and his ilk, you’ll largely walk alone in gatherings of Liverpool fans</p>

When you doff your hat to the class system and vote for Boris Johnson and his ilk, you’ll largely walk alone in gatherings of Liverpool fans

The League Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool today will be coloured by politics. The government want the organisers to make some sort of anti-Russian gesture after the invasion of Ukraine. An anti-war stance is a likelier scenario but even then the focus will fall on Roman Abramovich, Stamford Bridge’s oligarch owner.

The loudest political expression will come from the Liverpool end and will be concerned with domestic matters. The transplanted Kopites will boo the national anthem. It happens every time at Wembley and there is invariably a shocked reaction in the media.

Get used to it. Scousers – and a substantial proportion of Liverpool’s out-of-town fanbase – do not want God to save your Queen. In the year of the monarch’s platinum jubilee, the booing will resound across the stadium.

Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, is expected to be in attendance. He can expect to see the “Never Trust A Tory” banner that has been regularly appearing on the Kop. The anti-establishment, left-wing identity is deeply ingrained in a significant proportion of Liverpool diehards.

Big finals give the fans a chance to broadcast their beliefs to a worldwide television audience. Monarchists and Conservatives look away now.

Many on Merseyside relish its reputation as a rogue region. The Scouse identity was built on being a city of outsiders. Indeed, the term was originally a barb aimed at impoverished predominantly Irish immigrants who used free soup kitchens or bought the cheapest gruel from street vendors. It was used with disdain by the wealthy against those on the lowest strata of society.

Some time around a century ago, the insult was reappropriated by those whom it was aimed towards. The other nickname for the poor of the city was “Wack”, a sneering mispronunciation of the Irish word “Mhac”, meaning son. Deep in the folk memory of the city is the knowledge that Scouse was born, and remains, on the margins of society.

It has not escaped today’s supporters that once again the needy are being forced to depend on free meals. It is no coincidence that the Fans Supporting Foodbanks initiative started outside Goodison and Anfield. In the boos you will hear anger and a cry of rage at the depth of the inequality in this country.

There is pride, too. Football is a vehicle for civic self-respect on Merseyside. It became especially important during the 1980s, when the city was out of step politically, socially and economically with most of the country. Liverpool – and Everton – dominated English football and Europe. One of the poorest places in the UK was rich in silverware.

The treatment of the families of the Hillsborough dead and the survivors of the disaster hardened opinion. Why would anyone lustily sing the national anthem when they have been so badly let down by the state?

In 1965, at Liverpool’s first victorious FA Cup final, the fans took a more polite approach. They sang “God Save Our Team”. By the 1970s the booing was growing louder and in the following decade it became widespread. Now it is an ingrained Wembley tradition.

Is it possible to be a royalist, Tory Liverpool fan? Yes, if you take the view that football is merely a form of entertainment and ignore the cultural, communal aspect of the sport. If that is your approach, do not expect too much sympathy and kinship from those around you at the game. When you doff your hat to the class system and vote for Boris Johnson and his ilk, you’ll largely walk alone in gatherings of Liverpool fans.

Of course, the same people who are keen for the EFL to make an anti-Russian gesture before the game are those who told Marcus Rashford to concentrate on playing when he had the temerity to suggest that hungry children deserve to be fed.

Politics seeps into every aspect of life and football is no exception. Even though Liverpool are owned by an American investment company, the club is more than just a business venture – in the same way that Chelsea are more than a Russian oligarch’s plaything. Owners come and go. Culture remains.

The boos will rain down from the Liverpool end. Don’t be disgusted by it. This is the voice of people trying to tell you that there is something deeply wrong with this country: a noise made by people who stand for decency rather than the Queen.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in