Anfield Crowd Disappoint Expectant Press
Feature by Philip Hale
Updated Monday, 30th January 2012
Dirk Kuyt chose the perfect moment (and technique) to break his recent goalscoring famine.
As Saturday’s game looked to be heading for a stalemate and an Old Trafford replay, the Dutchman latched on to Andy Carroll’s perfectly weighted header, steadied and shaped himself as the ball bounced, and then drove an unstoppable shot passed De Gea. For Liverpool it was a fantastic conclusion to a week that had begun with humiliation at Bolton. For Patrice Evra, caught out of position for the goal it was a moment that he must have had nightmares about.
That moment and the previous eighty-eight minutes should have been all that was written about but the national media had already set up a different story.
The build up to the game had been dominated by questions and speculation regarding the reception Evra would receive on his first return to Anfield following the FA’s investigation. There could be a book written about the inflammatory press reporting on the whole saga but in the lead up to the game the idea was established that any abuse aimed at the United fullback would result from racial prejudice. The derision, in the end, took the form of booing and calling Evra a “lying bastard.
That level of abuse, plus one idiot allegedly making juvenile “monkey” gestures, clearly wasn’t enough for the press to go to town on but they stuck with the theory that the reaction to Evra was further evidence that there is an underlying racism at the club, the meme they have successfully pushed into the national conversation.
In the Guardian, Daniel Taylor had this to say,
“There is also an issue of why a black man who has been called "negro" deserves to be demonised, but, even so, Dalglish was probably entitled to be a little put out when the first question afterwards was whether it was right for Evra to get this treatment. "Why should I be disappointed for Patrice Evra?" he snapped at his inquisitor. "Have you played football? I've been booed."
Putting aside the arguments as to whether “negro” can be translated from Spanish as “mate” etc., presumably the answer Taylor would like people to reach to his floater of a question is “because the Anfield crowd is racist.” Actually lets not put the translation element aside as that is at the centre of the issue. Taylor wants us to forget that it was ever even in play. It is, however, incredibly generous and balanced of Taylor to acknowledge that Dalglish “was probably entitled to be a little put out” by a question that was designed to trap him.
Meanwhile Rob Draper in the Daily Mail was concerned about Evra’s feelings,
“Kenny Dalglish was right to point out that both clubs had done much to limit the vitriol in the run-up to the game; but he was wrong to suggest: 'Both sets of supporters were magnificent…. It was not as bad as some feared but there were chants from the United end of 'racist b******' and 'self-pity city', while Evra, the injured party in all this, was booed throughout and traduced as a 'lying b******'.“
There was no sympathy for Suarez, ‘traduced’ as he was on Saturday as a ‘racist bastard. ’ Yet the FA report clearly stated that Suarez was not racist and Evra agreed. It was a message, surely, to United fans and those of other teams, that Luis Suarez should in no way be abused as an actual racist?
As a result we should have expected a chant along the lines of “there’s only one non racist, who in a moment of high agitation used a abusive racist word seven times, two more than he was even accused of, for which we have no evidence, bastard”
Or something like that. It’s amazing that the message didn’t get through…
I look forward to Taylor considering the motivations of the Old Trafford crowd for the inevitable abuse Suarez will receive in the upcoming league game. How long before you face goes blue from holding your breath?
The award for disingenuous baloney, however, surely goes to Oliver Holt in the Mirror who wrote,
“At Anfield on Saturday, a footballer was booed and called a liar by 40,000 people because, some weeks earlier, he had reported what he believed to be several instances of racial abuse against him……Evra was forced to listen to a stadium singing “there’s only one lying bastard”. Broadcasters and writers guilty of the crime of acknowledging that racial abuse is an issue are being intimidated too”
Mr Holt, poor shrinking violet that he is, fails to reveal where, and in what form, this intimidation is manifesting itself. It is on the face of it an absolutely farcical claim given the sheer volume of anti Suarez sentiments expressed throughout the media.
It may help Taylor, Draper and Holt to consider some simple facts. The one they should start with is perhaps a basic one. In the FA Commission report the “foul” that Suarez committed that supposedly left Evra in shock five minutes later and led to the whole disputed conversation is described thus,
"In the 58th minute of the game Mr Suárez fouled Mr Evra between the edge of the Manchester United penalty area and the corner flag at the Kop end. It seemed to us to be a deliberate foul and the referee awarded a free-kick. The foul was committed by Mr Suárez kicking Mr Evra on his right knee.."
Watch the video and it is clear that this description is completely at odds with what actually happened. It is a fact that Suarez did not kick Evra. The whole travesty of the report flowed from this odd interpretation of the initial event.
Perhaps Evra lied, perhaps Suarez is a racist, there is know way of knowing for sure. The report failed (despite its claims of thoroughness) to establish either but tried to have it that Suarez is a lying non-racist who should be punished for using racial abuse. The press reported the finding as irrefutable fact despite the absurdity of it all and has spent the time between its release and Saturday’s game maligning Liverpool and its fans. So on Saturday after weeks of being accused of supporting racism the Kop responded with booing and “there’s only one lying bastard.”
The thought occurred that had the three members of the FA commission just lined up and chanted the same at Luis Suarez it would have saved them the trouble of writing 115 pages of exculpatory nonsense in order to justify a ban for the Uruguayan.
So it was necessary for the press to claim that the booing and chanting is somehow racist, that the “lying bastard” chant is a way for the crowd to express its racist sentiments in code. To suggest otherwise would involve them in walking back from their opinions that the whole incident was magnificently handled by the FA and bravely reported on by themselves. It would mean acknowledging that they had been cheerleaders for a judgment that carried a shaming and long lasting consequences for Suarez when that judgment was effectively drawn from the ether. It would force them to acknowledge that a refusal to swallow down excrement however fast it’s shoveled at you doesn’t make you a racist.
I know I am pissing in the wind here but this stuff has to be challenged every time it comes up. It is the epitome of a smear, based on a circular logic that requires only that the press stick to the view that the official report is flawless. Challenge that view and you are referred back to the report. Continued objections are then denounced as some kind of agenda or refusal to accept a known truth. In this instance the accusation of racism is a blunt instrument wielded to stifle dissent.
The reality on Saturday was this: English football’s two fiercest rivals met in a FA cup game against the backdrop of a highly controversial disciplinary matter. There was a large away following. There was some unpleasant chanting that included references to liars, racists, Hillsborough, murderers and Koreans eating dogs (the last four of these five are not worthy of any real attention because they came from the wrong end of the stadium to fit the narrative).
However, the police match commander Chief Superintendent Jon Ward said after the game : "I would like to thank the majority of fans for their behaviour and co-operation. We knew this would be a busy operation and most fans can be proud that they acted as ambassadors for their cities and their clubs.
"Despite the large numbers of supporters from both clubs and lively atmosphere, only 17 people were ejected from the ground and, at this time, two people arrested during the policing operation, all for low-level incidents.”
But where’s the story in that?
Oh and Liverpool won 2-1.