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Football must have no minute’s silence for Margaret Thatcher: what madman wants to remember the 1980s?
THE best thing you can say about Margaret Thatcher’s attitude to football was that she rarely used it to coin easy popularity. To her, football was a thing that needed controlling. Football to Thatcher was a threat to the social order. The Sunday Times said football was a “slum sport watched by slum people in slum stadiums”.
So. Football will not mark her passing in any special way. There was no minute’s silence for the former Prime Minister at Old Trafford last night as Manchester United took on Manchester City. Good. The minute’s silence has become the most overused tribute going.
Photo above: Margaret Thatcher sharing a joke with England footballers, left to right, Kevin Keegan, Terry McDermott, Phil Thompson and Emlyn Hughes and other members of the international squad outside 10 Downing Street when they were leaving after attending a reception given by Mrs Thatcher. Date: 05/06/1980
This was not snub. Maggie Thatcher (once an honorary vice-president of Blackburn Rovers) was the Prime Minister when English football was in the mire.
Photo: Screen shot from ITN News showing the fire that swept through the main stand at Bradford City’s football ground. The club were playing Lincoln City in the last match of the season. 56 people died and 265 were injured as a fire swept the packed stand just before half-time.
On May 11 1985, 15-year-old Ian Hambridge left his Northampton home to see his first football match. Birmingham City Football Club were playing Leeds United. A riot saw 80 fans and 96 police officers injured. Ian was stood by a 12 ft high wall, which collapsed. You might have read about him. But it’ unlikely. Because on that every day a fire took hold at Bradford City’s ground killing 56 people.
A short time later, on May 29, Liverpool played Juventus in the European Cup Final at Belgium’s Heysel stadium. Another riot. Another wall collapsed. 39 Italian fans died in the mayhem. English clubs were banned from European competitions.
In a era of lows, the infamous footage of Millwall fans rioting at Luton Town stands out.
Thatcher’s Government assed the The Football Spectators Act of 1989. It made ID cards compulsory. To be a football fan you needed to carry ID. You were no longer a citizen of a free democracy. You were a pariah the State wanted to control. Margaret Thatcher, regarded football fans as the “enemy within”.
Thatcher ordered Justice Oliver Popplewell to investigate football. He suggested fences to keep the fans from the pitch.
Bradford City FC chairman Stafford Heginbotham (left) with Mr Justice Popplewell, in front of the stand which was burnt at Bradford’s Valley Parade ground. The 57-year old judge spent more than half-an-hour touring the ground. He headed the inquiry into the blaze.
Chelsea chairman Ken Bates suggested electrifying it. If it was good enough for his cattle, it was good enough for football fans. (The GLC prevented Bates from plugging it in.)
1985: Chelsea chairman, Ken Bates, indicating the controversial anti-hooligan 12-volt electric wire on top of the 12ft high fence screening spectators from the pitch at Stamford Bridge football ground when it went on public show for the first time.
Then came the horror of Hillsborough, in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death. The police refused to open the fences at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground. The dying and uninjured were not instantly recognised as victims. They were a public order matter.
The police lied, saying that hooliganism was to blame. How much did Thatcher’s Government know?
So. Does Baroness Thatcher get a minute’s silence at sport she was no fan of? The Daily Mail’s Jeff Powell thinks she should, writing beneath the headline:
No Old Trafford tribute for Baroness Thatcher… Shame on football for snubbing the lady who rescued our game from tribal hooligans
A snub? Who in their right mind would want to remember football’s dark days?
As they took their comfortable seats on Monday night, feeling safe and secure as they enjoyed the match, in many cases savouring the hospitality of their boxes, how might they have reflected on the lady without whom such glittering stadiums would never have been built? And where might English football be now, had Thatcher allowed football to wither on the vine of feral violence and tribal hooliganism?
She wanted to bring in those aforementioned ID cards. And what of Hillsborough?
Did she save the national game? Without question.
On Monday night, that contribution to the beautiful game went unrecognised.
What about Hillsborough, then?
The long haul towards all-seat grounds, monitored by closed-circuit television cameras, began. It was a battle which would not be won until, by a terrible irony, the people of Liverpool became entrapped in an even greater disaster of their own, at Hillsborough four years later.
Trapped in disaster, literally and metaphorically as the State, media and police colluded to wrongly blame the victims for their own deaths.
Of course, watching football has improved massively. Matt Dickinson writes in the Times:
Taylor’s report in 1990 rejected Thatcher’s ID cards and heralded the era of all-seat stadiums. Indeed, it was as Thatcher tearfully departed in late 1990 that the conditions were coming together for football’s boom. The growth might well have been called Thatcherite given its reliance on club flotations (Manchester United became a plc in 1991), free-market economics, the arrival of Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB paying its first £300 million for a TV deal and the elitism of the new Premier League.
We now have minute’s silence for economic policy? Please, no. Football and politics… never!
Update: Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan and Reading’s Sir John Madejski want a minute’s silence for Maggie.
Whelan: “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.”
Madejski: “We have got to appreciate that Margaret Thatcher was a world leader who did so much for this country. So much that she deserves a minute’s silence. The funeral’s going to take place at St Paul’s attended by the Queen and Prince Philip so I think it would be a fitting tribute from the world of football to Margaret Thatcher, one of our greatest leaders.”
WHEN Margaret Thatcher died, Twitter went into overdrive. All over the place tweeters wer asking”Who’s Margaret Thatcher”? The hashtag #nowthatchersdead was read by many as “Now That Cher’s Dead”. Many just wanted to know who the Iron Lady was. They could have looked it up. But better to just shout out.
MARGARET Thatcher’s funeral will enjoy the same status as they of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother. It will either be a global event steeped in mawkish emotion and teddies, or largely ignored. Voices on the Left react:
Sunny Hundal in The Guardian:
“Let me be clear: it’s isn’t nice to wish death on most people, and I’m not doing that here for Thatcher. She deserves a degree of respect like other people, in my view, despite what she did as prime minister. Surely Thatcher herself would agree that poor taxpayers should not be further burdened in these times of austerity.”
HOW do you report on the death of Margaret Thatcher? The newspapers’ front pages show us how. The pick is The Times’ cover, which opts for simplicity over opinion:
DOESN’T it warm the cockles to see men in Brixton, London, holding up a sign declaring “THE BITCH IS DEAD”? The ‘Bitch’ was Margaret Thatcher, the only woman to lead one of three main political parties and become Prime Minister. When a woman is successful and powerful she is a ‘bitch’. Others who disliked her have been wondering if Baroness Thatcher was even a woman. Loathe her for her policies, if you must, but don’t hate her for being a woman. You only end up looking like a misogynist and a p**ck.
IN May 1988, Polly Tonybee wrote about Margaret Thatcher in the Washington Monthly. The diatribe was entitled “Is Margaret Thatcher A Woman?”.
Yes, she was. And a mother. But Tonybee wants to present Thatcher as a man, her Spitting Image puppet made flesh.
True enough, Thatcher never gave another women a job at her Cabinet table. But, then, it was her simply being there, Britain’s first female Prime Minister, that makes her a symbol of female emancipation and power. Like her or loathe her, Margaret Thatcher believed she could be Prime Minister. And she made it happen.
THE BBC tells its readers:
LIVE Baroness Thatcher Dies
WORDS on Margaret Thatcher’s passing will run into the millions. But only STV has the apparent scoop that her son Mark Thatcher has also died.
In other news, over 300 people massed in Glasgow to celebrate the former Prime Minister’s death.
The car was parked in a restricted parking bay at the Magor M4 service station. The Chancellor was inside at McDonald’s.
Richard Hawkes, of the disability charity Scope says:
“They [the disabled] will see this as rubbing salt in their wounds. Many are already struggling to make ends meet, yet the chancellor’s response has been to cut vital financial support and squeeze local care budgets.”
ANGLO-Irish Relations have been strained for years. Ever since the Earl of Pembroke became involved in a local matter in Leinster in 1170, the English have played a role in Irish affairs. When John de Courcy seized control of Ulster 1177, the English became the self-styled civilising force. The Irish were the bestial savages. As these cartoons show, the Irish were portrayed as low-browed, wire-haired simians, More ape than man.
A TORY MP has been complaining that the fees office treats them like dirt. They just go along to try and claim what is rightfully theirs, what the law provides for them to have, and they get treated like crap. Paid massively late, they’ve got to go into debt to pay their bills while they wait for the cash to be paid out.
Yes, of course this is what we should be doing to all politicians:
A Conservative MP has criticised the body responsible for overseeing politicians’ expenses claims, claiming they are trying to ‘screw MPs into the ground’.
Karl McCartney, the MP for Lincoln, says he has been forced to borrow £25,000 from his parents because of late payments by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) caused by delays in the processing of his expenses payments, a situation he claims that many other MPs face.
LORD Ahmed has issued a “complete and unreserved” for saying Jews were behind his imprisonment for dangerous driving. It turns out that wasn’t Jews who made him drive dangerously and slam into car driven by a man who died as a result. Ahmed’s SatNav was not calibrated to feature the voice of Woody Allen’s Rabbi Virgil Starkwell telling him to “Dive, schmive. Go on drive, already so fast” into the car that’s come to halt in the fast lane. “Go! Send your texts messages. Speed and kill a father of two. Who is this Martin Gombar? Is he from a good family? Does he have a nice word to say about you?”
Following Ahmed’s claim that it was Jews who run the British media and the justice system - and they were responsible for his 12-week prison sentence - Lord Ahmed was suspended from the Labour Party. And then he saw the light. He told the Huffington Post:
“I only believe in facts and to be honest I should have stuck with the facts rather than with conspiracy theories. I completely and unreservedly apologise to the Jewish community, to the judiciary, to the newspaper owners.”
A FUNNY thing happened at the BBC. When Boris Johnson was interviewed by Eddie Mair on the Andrew Marr show, the subject of the London mayor’s love life came up. Mair wondered if Johnson had lied about having an extra-marital affair.
All good stuff.
Only problem is that if adultery is an issue, will BBC question masters, such as Andrew Marr, have their private lives scrutinised? It could help us viewers establish what angle they are coming from. It might be a case of ‘why aren’t you having an affair’?
And then what about other guests, such as, say, Bill Wyman, who appeared on the trusty Beeb’s sofa. Bill “chatted about his new photography exhibition – including talking through his nature photos, his time with the Rolling Stones, and concert photography.” He did not alk about Mandy Smith.
DOES the Sun like Boris Johnson, the charismatic London mayor? Not much. But at least it could be consistent. In “BoJo boo-boo“, the Sun’s editorial mentions the story of how Boris - “hardly ever off the telly” – helped a scooter rider knocked from his bike on a London street.
“The dazed victim hadn’t a clue who his recuer was.”
THIS Ford Figo* advert in India shows Silvio Berlusconi and 3 ladies on their way to a Bunga Bunga party. Is Silvo kidnapping them? Can Silvio only get women to sleep with him if he ties them up first? Who’s in the back seat, the Yorskhire Ripper?
The caption reads: “Leave all your worries behind.”
Is Silvio going to – you know – dispose of the ‘worries’ lest they tell all to the police? Maybe not. It’s not like he’s in an Indian mini bus, so chances are that the victims will get to live after they’ve been raped.
HOW did Obama’s trip to Israel go? Well, he never called it the Holy Land (a pet hate – a term that often used on the BBC). Firts there was the tree planting:
“Tree gifted by President Obama to Israel this morning is dug up hours later for ‘pest’ testing.”
THERE are bad budgets and then there are bad budgets. And this one is a true stinker in at least one respect. Osborne’s decided to try and pump up house prices. The simpleton fool:
A state-backed mortgage guarantee scheme worth £130billion will see the market flooded with 500,000 cheap loans.
The Government is to subsidise deposits and provide state backing for loans to help homebuyers get on the property ladder or move up.
But there were warnings that the scheme risks creating a house price bubble.
No, that last line is wrong, is too milquetoast.
CHRIS Huhne is in prison. He’s been as newsworthy inside than he was outside. To date we have been told:
The Sun: “DISGRACED Chris Huhne gets used to life on the inside as his girlfriend Carina Trimingham pays him a visit.”
DISGRACED English MP Chris Huhne was ridiculed on his first day in London’s tough Wandsworth jail yesterday — when a prison officer called him to breakfast by yelling: “Order! Order!”
READERS of the London Evening Standard knew what was in the Chancellor’s Budget before George Osborne had adressed Parliament.
Editor Sarah Sands made a statement:
“An investigation is immediately underway into how this front page was made public and the individual who Tweeted the page has been suspended while this takes place. We have immediately reviewed our procedures. We are devastated that an embargo was breached and offer our heartfelt apologies.”
WHO funds your MP or Senator? The debate on Press Regulation is peppered with accusations that the politicians are in the pockets of big media and institutions. Should allegiances be declared in the manner of football kit advertising, or the suits drivers in F1 and Nascar wear? Should David Cameron wear a Sun newspaper logo on his chest? Should Ed Milliband sport a Unite union badge? In his last day’s in office should Tony Blair have worn BP flashing lights on his lapels? In America, you can sign a petition on the White House We The People site calling for the political elite to declare their vested interests at all times.
SMELL that? A Republican who says marijuana should remain illegal causes a stink:
Assemblyman Steve Katz, a 59-year-old Republican who voted no last year on a bill to legalize medical marijuana, had been traveling 80 mph on I-87 through Coeymans, N.Y., where the speed limit is 65 mph, state police said. During the speeding stop, police said a trooper noted the odor of marijuana and found Mr. Katz in possession of a small bag.
If Lord Ahmed is a pariah why doesn’t the Labour Party kick out more members for alleged anti-Semitism?
THE Labour Party has suspended their Lord Ahmed for his alleged comments that a Jewish conspiracy lurked behind his imprisonment for driving offences in which a man was killed. Says Labour:
“The Labour Party deplores and does not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism.”
Good that it does. Odd that it feels a need to state it. But, then, anti-racism is the moral cause the elite use to binds the nation.
But what does Labour do when others are accused of racism? Take Tam Dalyell, then a Labour MP, who said Tony Blair was being “unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisors”? That time, Labour did nothing.
A Cabal is defined as:
the artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government); also : a group engaged in such artifices and intrigues
NICK Clegg will not be meeting Chris Huhne in prison. In some parallel universe this man in the Deputy Prime Minister. He’s just there to make David Cameron look much, much better, isn’t he?