|Norwich City’s Billy Gilmour in action against Liverpool on the opening day of the season. AFP Photo.
Maybe it’s a thing when you get old, but I’ve always been terrified of turning into my father.
Nothing against my Dad at all, I just dreaded the day I’d start saying things like: “When I was a lad…” or “Back in my day…”
They are phrases I’ve tried to avoid at all costs, more so as I climb worryingly closer to the big five ‘O’.
Sadly in recent weeks I’ve found myself uttering those words on more than one occasion, in relation to the sport I love so much.
On the opening day of the football season, Liverpool played Norwich at Carrow Road.
It’s one of the few grounds I’ve not been to in England, but it’s clear from the watching the game on TV the away fans are extremely close to the pitch, especially when a corner is taken.
During the game, Norwich won a corner, and Billy Gilmour, a player on loan with the Canaries from Chelsea, stepped up to take it.
From the comfort of my apartment in Hà Nội, I could clearly hear what the Liverpool fans were chanting as he placed the ball to take the corner.
I won’t repeat the actual words, but the essence of the song wasn’t to do with the club he currently plays for, but reference to the team he is on loan from.
It’s a song, I admit, I have sung myself on many an occasion while watching Liverpool play Chelsea at Anfield in days gone by.
I remember vividly the Champions League semi-final in 2005 when my seat was so close the pitch I could have reached out and touched the players.
During that particularly tense game I was constantly screaming abuse to the players wearing the blue of Chelsea, and that chant was very much part of my repertoire.
At the time, I gave no thought whatsoever that maybe it was offensive to the LGBT community. I guess because way back then (16 years to be exact) that just wasn’t a concern.
The song itself, although it contains what can easily be deemed a homophobic slur, isn’t sung to question the sexuality of the player. The origin of its narrative is a dig at the footballers who had chosen to play for Chelsea at the time, not because they were the best team, but because they paid the most money.
The idea behind the song was that the big name players had ‘sold themselves’ to the highest bidder.
In this day and age, there is no justification for the song to be sung. And I for one am happy to consign its lyrics to the bowels of history, under lock and key never to be aired again.
Liverpool FC were quick to respond the chant, mirroring the comments made by Kop Outs, an LGBT organisation for Liverpool supporters.
LFC said: “The chant is offensive and inappropriate – a message we have repeatedly communicated alongside Kop Outs. We urge supporters to remember the inclusive values of the club and to refrain from using it in the future.”
Will that work? Will Liverpool fans in the future refrain from singing that, and other offensive chants? I hope so.
Back when I was a lad (jeez, I’m turning into my father), abusive songs were part and parcel of the match. The more offensive the better, and I’ve been guilty of singing many at full pelt.
But that was then, and this is now. It’s not just football that is changing, but the world we live in. And we all need to move on and get with the programme. VNS