These two seemingly disparate events were forced together following the suggestion by Dave Whelan (Chairman, Wigan Athletic FC) that a minute’s silence and the wearing of black armbands should be observed at the FA Cup Semi Final on the basis that football “owed” it to Thatcher. Widely reported in the media, The Telegraph reported Whelan as saying:
“We owe Mrs Thatcher a minute’s silence…It is not my decision, it is for the FA to decide, but I would be in favour of wearing an armband out of respect to Mrs Thatcher. We have to say thank you very much for the services the former PM has given us.
“@DrChrisAllen it’s a contradiction in terms to be a millwall and that kind of liberalism. Millwall is small c conservative”
Sent from someone I’d had no previous contact with, they clearly objected to me being a Millwall fan given the political views I hold.
However in the same way that I disagree with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown when she infers that all Millwall fans are racist, I equally refuse to accept that to be a Millwall fan you have to be a “small c conservative”.
Such a statement comes as a bit of a surprise, especially when in recent weeks Millwall Football Club and its players have been at the forefront of the campaign to save Lewisham Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department. The relevance of this is best summed up by a post on the 200% blog:
I’ve never been a massive fan of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. But when she ignorantly waded into the racism in football debate last year with her ill-informed article in the Independent newspaper dated 23rd October 2012 and wrote that Millwall fans “still behave like animals when they watch black players”, my liking of her waned even further. Not only were the comments unfounded but so too were they misdirected: it was a handful of overpaid, egotistical players who were being racist, not the fans.
It wasn’t only me who was incensed by this totally misguided article, but so too were Millwall Football Club, numerous supporters, as also a number of different equalities and anti-racism organisations. These included Lord Herman Ouseley, a lifelong Millwall supporter and founder and Chair of Kick it Out, the football equality organisation. Because of this, the Press Complaints Commission agreed to investigate the article further.
‘Big Kitch’ was a true legend at Millwall, an old school player who spent almost his entire career playing for one club. Unsurprisingly, he holds the record of being Millwall’s longest serving player, making 602 senior appearances for the club.
When I first started going to watch Millwall with my grandad in the 1970s, Big Kitch was still playing for the club. He was my grandad’s favourite player and having to listen to my grandad praise him week in, week out has left a wonderful legacy with me: a true Roy of the Rovers character, one of ‘us’, a man who gave everything for Millwall.
Yesterday the team wore black armbands in Big Kitch’s honour. Below is the tribute from the Millwall FC website:
Big Kitch, Gentle Giant, Mr Millwall to Lions fans or quite simply Barry, Dad and Grandad to his family – Barry Kitchener was quite simply a lovely, genuine human being whose sudden passing is as cruel as it is premature.
Back in January 2009, I posted on this blog about the MIllwall Football Club legend that is Neil Harris. At the time he had just scored his 112th goal for the club, making him the highest goalscorer in the club’s 125 year history. Yesterday it was announced that Neil had left Millwall to join Southend FC. So significant was this that ‘Neil Harris’ was actually ‘trending’ on Twitter.
Much has been made in recent days about the ‘snubbing’ of Tony Blair as European President in favour of the relatively unknown Belgian, Herman Van Rompuy. The reasons for the apparent snub depend largely on the newspaper of preference with the Guardian this morning favouring the story that as Blair had apparently recommended Gordon Brown ‘drop’ the campaign weeks ago, it once again highlighted Brown’s incompetence and lack of political judgment.
For the Times, the story was possibly a little more straightforward:
Gordon Brown joined the seven other European socialist group leaders in backing Mr Van Rompuy and Lady Ashton after accepting that there was too little support for Mr Blair to be president.
Downing Street’s U-turn was a humiliating snub to Mr Blair, Mr Brown’s predecessor, who had hoped to take the plum role, but was opposed by key EU leaders who feared he would be too presidential.
For the Times then, it was a Euro-fear of Blair’s ego rather than anything else.
Having just returned from Brussels and the European Parliament, the story and reporting on the other side of the Channel is much different. Having spoken to a number of informed individuals, they stated that the only place in Europe where the Blair ‘story’ is still news is in the UK. The rest of Europe had rarely – if ever – considered Blair a viable option for the Presidency. As ever, the European view was that this was another example of Britain’s own sense of self-importance. As one person suggested, it’s a construction of the British media: if they hadn’t constructed this story, who in Britain would care about the European presidency?
Fair point, but for me it reminded me of the World Cup. As with every other World Cup in living memory, so next year’s finals in South Africa will be no different. In Britain, the media and the general public will whip themselves up into a hysteria about how we are capable of winning the competition. Elsewhere, England will be given as much hope as indeed South Korea or Egypt (i.e. none).
The view from inside is always different from the view from the outside. I just think that sometimes Britain forgets – or even doesn’t care – about the outside view.
Everything on this site by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. www.chris-allen.co.uk.