Today, courtesy of the pages of The Rust, I present to the world my uncompromising and woke-free sixpenny-worth on the troubling subject of the background, the circumstances and, of course, the crowd control and innumerable other events and incidents surrounding the staging of 2020/2021 Euros Final match at Wembley Stadium.
And there were not a few of them.
My headline is “COME ON, FOLKS [and that definition includes everyone involved in whatever capacity in the staging of this prestigious tournament of the moment, from Royalty, the Government, Her Majesty’s Opposition, EUFA, the FA, the Police, the Wembley Stadium authorities, the local Council, the private security firms, the stewards and jobsworths involved … right down to the players, team managers, broadcasters of the “live” coverage, the sporting and media pundits and commentators and yes, last but not least – you’ve guessed it – the great British public] – WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE – HONESTLY NOW, WHAT WERE YOU ACTUALLY EXPECTING, OTHER THAN EXACTLY WHAT DID HAPPEN?
Extracts from a flickering, fading-coloured, 16-millimetre film home movie of a quaint early 1950s street party celebrating a Royal event, complete with bonny smiling faces upon every adult and child as they make the best they can of tea and cakes produced under still-rationed conditions – replicated a million times down the length and breadth of the country?
Or perhaps – as many of Fleet Street’s finest were taking delight in promoting – a rose-tinted view of everything concerned from England’s chances of winning to the upbeat mood of the nation generally as – on the eve of “Freedom Day” (when we would finally and gratefully leave the ravages of the pandemic behind us) – we joyously grabbed the chance to go forward to the sunny uplands of Boris’s childish and over-optimistic view of the future of the country, buoyed and emboldened by our communal spirit of diversity and PC-togetherness and basking in our pride and confidence that Great Britain would shortly and inevitably regain its rightful position as ruler of the global waves whilst collectively singing Neil Diamond’s classic ditty Sweet Caroline?
Let’s pause for a moment to give ourselves a dose of cold reality.
Never mind all the best intentions of our lords and masters, politicians, educators, philosophers, prison administrators, social welfare services etc. [ad infinitum], the brutal truth of the matter is that in the UK there exists a vast gulf between those who possess the ambition, determination, drive and intelligence to “make something of themselves” and simultaneously hopefully thereby the world a better place … and those who – for all the reasons we inherently and instinctively know and also liberal-minded, “forward thinking”, socially-concerned campaigners keep lecturing us about from their academic towers – live by either choice or random unlucky chance in a harsh world of low incomes, deprivation and just general “lack of opportunities” (or is it “lacking whatever it requires in order to take advantage of any of them?”) and somehow struggle to get by.
Strangely some of these – again for reasons hard to identify – somehow manage to find the wherewithal to take up the likes of Sky TV, Amazon and Netflix subscriptions, own quite tasty cars and smartphones, regularly eat and drink their fill and still have cash enough left over to go on foreign holidays in the sun often more than once a year.
And – as with all stratas of the population – some of them (possibly an alarming proportion) are also hard-wired fascist, racist and populist in their views of society and how it ought to be.
And get away with not paying the taxes that they should.
And don’t respect either the notion of “the rule of law”, or indeed the policemen and women that are supposed to implement the laws of the land in defence of the general population both in terms of what might be called the cause of “doing the right thing” and also the freedom of the individual to do what he or she likes as long as it doesn’t adversely affect the rights of other people.
[I now shift towards broad generalisations].
Further, when it comes to football, among those who identify as fans – whether of club or country – are those who already qualify for some of the categories mentioned above and revel in the tribal bonding nature of team support. They overflow with exuberance and alcohol, they love chanting and/or singing their team’s current “signature” rallying battle-calls, pour lavish scorn upon their opponents’ equivalents, and at times represent a “riot about to happen” challenge to the authorities charged with keeping the peace.
And sometimes it all spills over into disorder, violence and eventually clashes with rival fans and/or the police.
I’m not singling out England or the UK as having a bigger “hooligan” problem than any other country because I’m sure that there are several around the world that can match ours … and more.
I’m just saying that anyone who thinks that this country doesn’t have a section of society (if not possibly several of them) that basically operates on the basis that it will only obey what laws and regulations if feels like obeying – and will disregard or ignore the rest to one degree or another – needs to have their head examined.
Early on Sunday morning, as I tuned in to the BBC News channel shortly after 9.00am and watched my first outside broadcast bulletin of the day from Wembley, I could immediately tell how things were going to go.
I say that because it included not only included live coverage of hordes of England fans already swarming all over the approaches to the Stadium like a growing plague of locusts but also dire warnings to any viewers who might later be attending the match (kick off 8.00pm) to be very careful about personal safety and security.
For all the joys and official self-congratulatory celebrations of the staging of the Euros Final on Sunday, it was unfortunately also as plain as a pikestaff that, whenever and wherever England footballers play their internationals – and however much positive sense of communal togetherness these may generate in the general population – they also attract a significant number of hard-core, unsavoury, one-eyed, boorish and potentially unpleasant louts whose behaviour inevitably threatens the good name of everyone concerned and indeed the nation.
Sadly, it seems to me, it’s a problem that that the UK has had for centuries – and probably always will.