THERE has to be a blogpost which clarifies that although Jonathan Creek is an Arsenal fan, it doesn’t mean he represents all Arsenal fans. He is not our chosen celebrity leader. We didn’t all meet at moonlight and have a show of hands next to the Thierry statue to elect him at an AGM of scarfers. That’s not to say he isn’t entitled to say what he thinks, he just doesn’t account for all of us.
And so, as a matter of course, what Creek said about Liverpool and the Hillsborough disaster and then wrote in The Times this week about the point of Liverpool possibly playing again one day on the anniversary of the tragedy does not represent one big bloc vote from the Arsenal jury or for that matter London or southern football fans as a whole. There’s a feeling that, as the row has inevitably escalated and at times been miscommunicated, that this is how the north has seen the south on this one. Bloody Arsenal fans, typical. That kind of thing.
Thankfully, Richard Littlejohn doesn’t represent the whole of Tottenham’s support. David Mellor doesn’t represent everybody who supports Chelsea. Likewise, people tweeting horrible hate towards Creek (his real name is Alan Davies, but I think he likes being called by his best known telly character in the same way Ant and Dec would really rather we all addressed them always – always – as PJ and Duncan) for what he said do not represent everybody who supports Liverpool. Once we get that straight, we can all have a say properly. You can’t win an argument by saying: You are wrong because somebody who supports the same football team was obscene on Twitter.
Some Arsenal fans will agree with Creek, others disagree. My view is that if Liverpool don’t want to play on the anniversary of the tragedy, then why should we all make a fuss. It might well be a greater tribute for the team to play and win and do well in the memory of those who died. But as a club, staff and supporters, they have decided how they want to do things – not to play on that day – and let’s respect them for it. Don’t mock them as grief junkies or make crude comparisons with the 7/7 bombings – if bus and tube drivers want to take that day off for reflection for the next 20 years, then let them do that too. Why should the rest of us dictate how people grieve, reflect, remember? In Liverpool’s case, they are not asking for the whole fixture list to be re-jigged, for the season to end in July, for everybody to wear black for a month. It’s a pretty simple request. It was a pretty simple request for people to stay quiet for a minute of silence at Wembley on Sunday night.
Why should any of us tell Liverpool what’s good for Liverpool and what they should do? For that matter, why should we sneer at the colossal amount of flowers that Bolton fans put down at their ground when Fabrice Muamba was fighting for his life in hospital after a heart attack during a match? “He’s not even dead,” was a typical response but the laying of flowers was a spontaneous reaction by supporters who felt helpless to help in any other way. Don’t call them over emotional for that. They were just being nice. Nice is good.
In the rest of our lives, we don’t tell people that they are only allowed to grieve for relatives for a certain amount of time and the way we tell them. We don’t mock the way they do it either. We all know people who on anniversaries that are special to them, the dates in the year when they lost somebody special to them, do something personal, different, to reflect on the hardest emotion of all: missing someone. They might take a day off work and visit an important place that helps plot a shared past. They might not spend the whole day, they might spend two minutes saying a prayer, talking to a photograph, playing a record. They might just write ‘miss you’ on Facebook. Let them, yeah? Every year for the next 50 if they want. You wouldn’t call any of that ‘the cult of emotional correctness’.
Creek isn’t the villain he has been painted in some postal districts of Liverpool – he was just saying what he thought, not abusing the dead – but let’s let Liverpool grieve and reflect in the way it chooses. If they don’t want to play, let them play the day after.