The Hillsborough Disaster, A Guide for the Stupid Football Fan

26 04 2016

I wrote this 5 years ago. The truth was available 26 years ago if you knew where to look.

The Hillsborough disaster is back in the news. There is an e-petition to sign if you would like our government to release documents related to the disaster.

I used to think that the truth was self-evident about Hillsborough; it was a disaster caused by a mixture of Police negligence and Thatcher’s policies. I thought the disaster was held with the same regard by all football fans because there was the potential for something like this to have happened at certain grounds at other times. It turns out that I was a little naive about this universal attitude.

Some people think that Liverpool fans are partly, if not wholly to blame for killing their own fans. Other people don’t like the sound of ‘Whinging Scousers” from “self-pity city” spouting off. I’ve challenged one or two of them on Twitter about this attitude.  They rather alarmingly, justify their view by mentioning the Heysel stadium disaster as if this was proof that “Liverpool fans caused Hillsborough”, despite the fact that Hillsborough disaster has nothing whatsoever to do with this very shameful event.

Others go on to highlight the behaviour of Liverpool fans in Athens as a further justification for their view, as if a few scallies robbing tickets off fans is equivalent to being crushed to death.

Morons will use both events to say this “just shows what Liverpool fans (and scousers) are like”. In other words they are using their petty prejudices about scousers to justify the fact that 96 people were crushed to death at a football match.

There is no greater example of the pernicious effect of Murdoch’s tabloid than this mass logic failure. Some people have swallowed the MacKenzie line about Liverpool fans hook, line and sinker. Some of these people have used other events to create a mental tapestry about Liverpool fans that justifies the death of 96 football fans.

I wonder if any of them have ever imagined what 96 people being crushed to death involves, what it feels like, what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it smells like. Have they ever thought about the guilt of the survivors? Have they fuck, if they had thought about Hillsborough like that they wouldn’t have made their comments.

These people make me ashamed to be a football fan.

For these idiots I have gone to the trouble of reading through the Taylor Report and I’ve highlighted the salient points in red. I’ve also  highlighted the cause Lord Justice Taylor formulated in blue. Remember this is not some “jaundiced Scouser” writing about the disaster. The report was written by a judge employed by the government to find out what happened.

 Here are the edited highlights of the “Taylor Report” (You will see that Lord Justice Taylor doesn’t blame Liverpool fans for the disaster)

36. The effect of the decision was that for this all-ticket Cup Tie, Liverpool were allotted only 24,256 places as against 29,800 for Nottingham Forest. This, although average attendance of supporters at home matches was substantially higher at Liverpool than at Nottingham. Moreover, with standing tickets at £6 and seats at £12, Nottingham Forest had 21,000 standing places compared with Liverpool’s 10,100. So, Liverpool’s allocation was more expensive as well as smaller. Understandably, Liverpool were aggrieved by the allocation of places and tickets. They sought with some support from the host club and the FA to have it changed in 1988, but the police were adamant. To switch ends would, in their opinion, have involved rival supporters crossing each other’s paths when approaching the ground thereby frustrating attempts at segregation and creating a risk of disorder. In 1989, when the same plan was proposed, Liverpool again challenged it. The police, however, maintained their view, adding that those who had attended in 1988 would be familiar with the arrangements and that any change would lead to confusion.

78. In the control room no-one noticed the overcrowding or anything amiss in pens 3 and 4 until the first fans spilt out onto the perimeter track just before kick-off. Then, the officers in command assumed that there was an attempted pitch invasion. They called up reserve serials waiting in the gymnasium and all available officers elsewhere to go to the pitch. A request was made to HQ for dog handlers.

Misinformation

98. At about 3.15 pm, Mr Graham Kelly, Chief Executive of the FA, Mr Kirton also of the FA and Mr Graham Mackrell, Secretary of Sheffield Wednesday, went to the control room for information. Mr Duckenfield told them he thought there were fatalities and the game was likely to be abandoned. He also said a gate had been forced and there had been an inrush of Liverpool supporters. He pointed to one of the television screens focussed on gate C by the Leppings Lane turnstiles and said “That’s the gate that’s been forced: there’s been an inrush”. Inevitably Mr Kelly was interviewed a little later live on television. He spoke of the two stories concerning the gate – the fans’ account that the police had opened it, the police assertion that the fans had forced their way in.

116. The overcrowding up to 2.52 pm was due to a number of factors which can be considered broadly under three heads.

(i) The layout at the Leppings Lane end.

(ii) Lack of fixed capacities for the pens,

(iii) Lack of effective monitoring of the terraces.

You may have noticed that the behaviour of Liverpool fans is not called into question

117. The crushing and fatalities after 2.52 pm must be considered under a number of headings.

(iv) The build-up at the turnstiles.

(v) The blunder on opening the gates.

(vi) The barriers in pen 3.

(vii) The crushing not recognised,

(viii) The response of the police.

(ix) The perimeter gates were too small.

123. As already mentioned, there was crushing at the Cup semi-final in 1981. The match was between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The police debriefing minutes after the incident prophetically refer, “to the late arrival of a large number of spectators who were still waiting to enter the Leppings Lane enclosure when the match started. The flash point occurred when Tottenham scored” (at the Kop end) “after only three minutes. The spectators just entering pushed forward to see what was happening and caused a crush, which resulted in the injuries”.

166. What is clear, however, is that de facto the police at Hillsborough had accepted responsibility for control of the pens at the Leppings Lane end. The evidence of the senior officers who had been concerned with policing at Hillsborough over the years was all one way on this point. Only Mr Duckenfield, who had not policed at Hillsborough for some 10 years prior to 15 April, took a different view.

183. Although the police had accepted de facto responsibility for monitoring the pens, their policy on the day was to leave fans to “find their own level” and to concentrate their own attention on possible disorder. Whilst in theory the police would intervene if a pen became “full”, in practice they permitted the test of fullness to be what the fans would tolerate.

184. By 2.52 pm when gate C was opened, pens 3 and 4 were over-full even by this test. Many were uncomfortable. To allow any more into those pens was likely to cause injuries; to allow in a large stream was courting disaster.

191. Between 2.30 pm and 2.40 pm the crowd waiting for the turnstiles swelled to over 5,000 and became unmanageable. The case made for the police was that large numbers of Liverpool supporters arrived late; a high proportion of them were drunk and unco-operative; a high proportion had no tickets; all of them were hell-bent on getting in on time. They say this was unforeseeable and explains why they lost control.

192. Whether those who arrived between 2.30 pm and 2.40 pm were “late” was much debated. The ticket simply requested its holder “to take up [his] position 15 minutes before kick-off. That may have been intended to persuade those with stand tickets to take their seats, but it would not be unreasonable for a standing spectator to arrive at the turnstiles between 2.30 pm and 2.40 pm. Whether they were “late” or not, however, there was certainly a large concentration of Liverpool fans arriving at about 2.30 pm and after.

196. Of those who arrived at 2.30 pm or after, very many had been drinking at public houses or had brought drink from home or an off-licence. I am satisfied on the evidence, however, that the great majority were not drunk nor even the worse for drink. The police witnesses varied on this. Some described a high proportion as drunk, as “lager-louts” or even as “animals”. Others described a generally normal crowd with an unco-operative minority who had drunk too much. In my view some officers, seeking to rationalise their loss of control, overestimated the drunken element in the crowd. There certainly was such an element. There were youngsters influenced by drink and bravado pushing impatiently at the rear of the crowd thereby exacerbating the crush. But the more convincing police witnesses, including especially Detective Superintendent McKay and Chief Inspector Creaser as well as a number of responsible civilian witnesses, were in my view right in describing this element as a minority. Those witnesses attributed the crush to the sheer numbers of fans all anxious to gain entry. There was no criticism of the crowd by any of the witnesses in the period up to 2.30 pm or even 2.35 pm. What happened then was not a sudden deterioration in the mood or sobriety of those assembled there. No doubt those coming behind would have had more to drink and would have included the unruly minority. But the crisis developed because this very large crowd became packed into a confined turnstile area and its very density hampered its passage through the turnstiles.

197. Superintendent Marshall and other officers criticised the crowd as unco-operative because police exhortations to stop pushing and to ease back were not heeded. How could they be? In that crush most people had no control over their movements at all. Two incidents involving police horses illustrate the point. One horse was found afterwards to have cigarette burns on its rump. Clearly that was the despicable work of a hooligan whether in drink or not. However, there were also eyewitness accounts of a horse being physically lifted off its feet by the crowd. That occurred, as the police accepted, without malice or intent but as an involuntary consequence of crowd pressure which those by the horse’s flanks could not resist any more than the horse itself.

200. It has become a fact of football life that fans do turn up at all-ticket matches without tickets. It is not possible to give an accurate figure or even a reliable estimate of the number without tickets on 15 April. Police estimates varied from about 200 to about 2,000. There were certainly frequent requests for tickets or “spares” during the hours before the build-up. Many of those warned off by the police were seen to return to the area. Some were hanging about on the bridge. Again, however, the police witnesses who most impressed me did not consider the number of ticketless fans to be inordinately large. This accords with two other sources of evidence.

201. First, there was a wide range of witnesses who observed inside the ground that the Liverpool end was at a late stage well below capacity save for pens 3 and 4. The north stand still had many empty seats and the wing pens were sparse. The match being a sell-out, there were clearly many ticket holders to come and they could account for the large crowd still outside the turnstiles. Had the Liverpool accommodation been full by 2.40 pm, one could have inferred that most or much of the large crowd outside lacked tickets.

202. Secondly, such figures as are available from the Club’s electronic monitoring system and from analyses by the HSE suggest that no great number entered without tickets. They show that the number who passed through turnstiles A to G plus those who entered through gate C roughly equalled the terrace capacity figure of 10,100 for which tickets had been sold. The Club’s record showed 7,038 passed through turnstiles A to G.

However, the counting mechanism on turnstile G was defective, so the HSE did a study using the video film and projecting figures from the other turnstiles. This gave an assessment of 7,494, with a maximum of 7,644 passing through A to G. Again, using the video, the HSE assessed the number who entered the ground whilst gate C was open at 2,240 with a maximum of 2,480. Accordingly, the HSE’s best estimate of the total entering through gate C and turnstiles A to G was 9,734 with a maximum of 10,124.1 recognise that these can only be rough checks because, for example, some with terrace tickets were allowed through turnstiles 1 to 16 and there would be other similar factors which have not formed part of the assessment. Nevertheless, the figures do suggest that there was not a very significant body of ticketless fans in the crowd which built up.

The “Conspiracy” Theory

203. On behalf of South Yorkshire police, the theory was advanced that the “late” arrival of so many Liverpool supporters was planned to buck the system. The suggestion was that fans without tickets conspired to arrive late and create such trouble as would force the police to admit them to the match. The slender evidence upon which this theory rested came from two sources: overheard conversations in public houses and the antecedent history of Liverpool supporters at away matches.

204. One witness said he heard three Liverpool supporters saying, in effect, that they would manage to get in without tickets by causing trouble so that police would open a gate, and that they had done this before. Another witness heard two of a group of Liverpool supporters say they had no tickets, that they would go to the ground just before kick-off, that no-one would stop them getting in and that they had not been stopped yet. Statements were put in relating to two other small groups talking in similar terms.

Liverpool Supporters at Away Matches

205. The South Yorkshire police prepared a dossier of reports on the behaviour of Liverpool fans at away matches with the object of showing a pattern of troublesome behaviour by large numbers either without tickets or with forged tickets. Without setting out the whole history, it can be summarised as follows.

206. On three occasions Liverpool fans without tickets were allowed into all-ticket matches upon payment. (At Watford on 13 February 1988, 1,500 were admitted; at Southampton on 24 September 1988, 150 were admitted; at Southampton again on 12 December 1988, 750 were admitted.) At Norwich on 1 April 1989, Liverpool supporters arrived without tickets but 1,272 tickets had been returned and fans from both Liverpool and Norwich were allowed to buy them for cash. A similar situation occurred at Wimbledon on 13 May 1989. There were six other occasions from 1986 to date, including the Cup finals of 1986 and 1989, when numbers of Liverpool supporters turned up without tickets or otherwise behaved badly.

207. Four points must be noted, however. On none of the occasions when ticketless fans were admitted for payment was the match a sell-out. There was therefore room in the ground on each occasion. At a sell-out fans might not expect to be allowed in, even for payment. Secondly, no trouble of the kind alleged was encountered at the 1988 semi-final when Liverpool visited Hillsborough. Thirdly, Liverpool visited Hillsborough again in January 1989 without any trouble. Finally, no forged tickets were in use on 15 April apart from three crude photocopies.

No Conspiracy

208. I have already found that there was not an abnormally large number of fans without tickets on this occasion. With one or two exceptions, the police witnesses themselves did not subscribe to the “conspiracy” theory. I am satisfied that the large concentration at Leppings Lane from 2.30 pm to 2.50 pm did not arrive as a result of any concerted plan. There were, I accept, small groups without tickets who were willing to exploit any adventitious chance of getting into the ground. They, together with the minority who had drunk too much, certainly aggravated the problem faced by the police. But that main problem was simply one of large numbers packed into the small area outside the turnstiles.

214. As to 1988, there was a very large and consistent body of evidence that, on the day, the police in Leppings Lane conducted an efficient filtering exercise designed to keep away those without tickets and control the flow of fans towards the ground. I do not believe that so many witnesses without either opportunity or reason to put their heads together could be mistaken about what they experienced on that occasion. Yet, the police maintain that no filtering exercise other than on a random basis was conducted in 1988 and that their policy and practice then were no different from those of 1989.

215. The answer to this conflict must, I think, be that whilst the policy may have been no different, in practice the policing in 1988 was more efficient and was not put to the same test and strain as a year later. There was not so large a swell in numbers approaching the ground from 2.30 pm to 2.50 pm as in 1989. Nevertheless, there had been warning signs in 1988. Detective Superintendent McKay gave the following evidence:

229. The decision to order the opening of the gates was not accompanied or followed by any other order to deal with the consequences. When gate C was opened, a steady stream of about 2,000 fans poured through it over some five minutes. Clearly they were going to go into the ground somewhere and unless they were diverted their likeliest route was through the tunnel for reasons already given. No warning was issued from the control room that the gate was to be opened. Serials on the concourse were not alerted. Neither the Club control room nor the Chief Steward at the Leppings Lane end was warned. Not even Mr Greenwood, the Ground Commander, was informed. From 2.47 pm when Mr Marshall made his first request until 2.52 pm when Mr Duckenfield acceded to it, there were five minutes in which orders could have been given as to how the influx was to be absorbed. It was not done. In evidence, Mr Duckenfield began by saying that no officer made any wrong decision but he later conceded he had erred in this regard. He said he did not consider where the people would go when the gate opened. Even after it opened, when he could see the influx on the television screen, no order was given to steer the fans to the wing pens. Mr Duckenfield said it did not cross his mind to detail officers on the concourse to shut off the tunnel. Those officers could not have known from their position how full pens 3 and 4 were. That was a matter for the control room to monitor from its own observations and using intelligence from around the ground.

230. Since pens 3 and 4 were full by 2.50 pm, the tunnel should have been closed off whether gate C was to be opened or not. The exercise was a simple one and had been carried out in 1988. All that was necessary was for a few officers to act as a cordon at the entrance to the tunnel and divert fans elsewhere. Unfortunately, the 1988 closure seems to have been unknown to the senior officers on duty at the time. It did not figure in the debriefing notes. It therefore had no influence on the planning for 1989.

Mr Hicks’ Evidence

1. Mr and Mrs Hicks’ two daughters died in the disaster. They had arrived early en famille but had tickets for different sections. The two daughters had standing tickets; they went into pen 3. Mrs Hicks had a seat in the north stand. Mr Hicks took up a standing position in pen 1 just below and to the west of the police box at about 2.15 pm From there, he had a view of the centre pens. He kept an eye on them as they filled up since he knew his daughters to be there.

2. His evidence was that by 2.50 pm he could see people were in distress. At about 2.55 pm he and others called to a senior police officer at the top of the steps to the control box to draw his attention to the crushing. Mr Hicks was only about 10 feet from the officer. He described him as wearing a flat cap with gold or silver braid and a light coloured anorak. Mr Hicks believed he was the officer who stopped the match. Mr Greenwood, who did stop the match, was certainly not wearing a light coloured anorak, as can clearly be seen on the video.

3. Mr Hicks says that he and others shouted several times to this officer in attempts to alert him to the distress in the pens. There was no reaction although Mr Hicks believes the officer must have been in earshot.

4. That officer descended from the steps and two cameramen whom Mr Hicks believed were from television came and appeared to direct their cameras towards the pens. Another senior officer appeared two steps down from the platform. He was a stocky figure; he also wore a flat cap but with black braid. Mr Hicks says that he and two or three others tried several times to capture this officer’s attention without success. Then Mr Hicks says he shouted “For Christ’s sake! Can’t you see what’s going on? We can, and you have cameras”. The officer is said to have replied dismissively “Shut your fucking prattle”.

You look at what being a  football fan has become and you wonder if it’s worth bothering with any more.

It used to be about mild joshing between work mates and friends now it’s about hate and venom. A whole generation of “fans”, or “morons” if you prefer, is being led to believe that “hate” is one of the default settings – the others being “mindless banter” and “epileptic paroxysms of joy” – and there is no middle ground between these default settings.

The old ideas of camaraderie and bonhomie are further eroded by this media conditioning. Where fans may have once had a chat,  they now feel compelled to denigrate by using words like “scum”If you think this is far-fetched then why do people react negatively about the quest for justice in relation to the Hillsborough disaster, a disaster where 96 football fans lost their lives because they went to a football match. This should affect all football fans equally.

Hillsborough was not solely a football tragedy, it was  a human tragedy. The families of the victims deserve justice.





If you see anyone with “rugby fever”……

13 10 2011

Earlier today I read an article from yesterday’s Daily Post;

“Wear your Wales shirt to work and support our Rugby heroes

 
PEOPLE are being urged to proudly wear their red Wales rugby shirts to work on Friday in support of the national team’s biggest game ever.

The Welsh Rugby Union wants businesses to encourage staff to wear their Wales jerseys and show their support for Warren Gatland’s team before the crunch game against France at Auckland’s Eden Park.

And Daily Post staff will be among those joining in, throwing our support behind the lads.

WRU marketing manager Craig Maxwell said: “While the likes of Snoop Dogg and David Hasselhoff have shown their support by tweeting pictures of themselves wearing a Wales shirt, the WRU is urging the country to show the world red is the season’s most fashionable colour”

“Businesses allowing their staff to ‘wear your jersey to work’ will help build on the excitement on the eve of the biggest match in Wales’ history.”

After Saturday’s win against Ireland, the WRU has experienced an “unprecedented” demand for merchandise in its shops and on line.

Craig said: “Jerseys, especially, are flying off the shelves.

Rugby fever has well and truly hit the country and there’s a real spirited atmosphere.

“Wales haven’t been in a World Cup semi-final since 1987 and around 10 of the team weren’t even born at that time, including our captain Sam Warburton.

“This is a young Welsh side with  a truly professional attitude.

“They are playing some really exciting rugby at the moment and everyone wants to be Welsh right now – so let’s show how proud we really are in Wales and wear our red jerseys……..”

I Love my country, love my country!!!!

Yes I love my country and I’m not going to apologise!!! I love my country because I love the way people must love “the boys”. I love the way we  must prove they love our boys, our wonderful boys, our wonderful strapping boys, our LOVELY, WONDERFUL, STRAPPING BOYS IN RED., OUR LOVELY, WONDERFUL, STRAPPING BOYS IN RED WITH THEIR HEARTS ON FIRE AND THEIR HANDS FULL OF SKILL, OUR LOVELY, WONDERFUL, STRAPPING BOYS IN RED ………. I’m sorry, I got a bit carried away by the thought of our boys in action.

I love everything about my country!!! I love hearing how much people support our boys on the news; I love hearing how proud they are to be Welsh on the radio. I love reading the pride people have in our boys on twitter. I really love the way some of them probably didn’t care one way or the other a fortnight ago.

I love the way people will feel that they’ve got to be in a pub at 8:30 am on Saturday proudly wearing their red shirt. I love the way they’ll feel they must do things correctly to honour our boys, our lovely, wonderful, strapping boys in red. I love the way they’ll be there with their red shirted mates, listening to the red-shirted crap being shouted at the red-shirted television. I love the way the red-shirted shouters will be convinced that Warren and the boys will hear them through the red-shirted television set. I love this situation even more because I know they will  only have started  acting like this after they heard that this was how everybody else was acting.

Yes I love the whole thing, the Saturday morning drinking, the ceremonial wearing of the sacred red shirt, the metaphorical grabbing of their heart during the anthem. I love the tears of joy, the tears of frustration, the shouts of pressure, I love the tinnitus of pride. I love the way they sit there with a heart full of pride for our boys, pride for Wales, pride for their motherland; one country, one team, one captain.

The thing I’ll love most of all on Saturday is the fact that I’ll be miles from Llandudno. On Saturday morning I’ll be sitting on a Llanelli-bound train.

These glory hunting fuckers used to annoy my rugby-loving dad. He could spot them a mile off; they’d turn up without the slightest bit of rugby knowledge, scream the loudest and then be the first to bugger off. That fucking article is giving the glory hunting tossers a license to befoul Welsh life with their gobshite behaviour. 

Oh yes the article. I can’t think of a reason why any person, never mind one with access to the world’s media, would claim that  by wearing a red shirt on Friday they will affect the result of a match on Saturday morning. Unfortunately the dick that wants this to happen is the marketing manager for the Welsh Rugby Union. Let’s all celebrate the great job he’s doing!!!! Without his timely ejaculation the people of Wales would have no idea that our lovely, wonderful, strapping boys in red were still in the rugby world cup. 

Yesterday I may have said that rugby’s administrators were slightly more level-headed and humble than football’s glitterati, then one of them ejaculated this article of crap into the public domain.

I like a bit of Welsh sporting success as much as the next man but I find all this a tad distasteful. When people go along with other people, or feel they have to wear the same clothes as other people,  just because that’s what everybody else seems to be doing, well the roots of Nazism lay close by.

The pressure of having to watch “our boys” has put me off watching something that I would have wanted to watch.

I’d suggest that if you see anyone frothing at the mouth with “rugby fever” do the humane thing; put them out of their misery.

 





I’ve never been “Flavour of the Month” before

9 10 2011

After this weekend’s mammoth Welsh weekend of sporting greatness it seems the Welsh are the flavour of the month;

“…..Now that England, Ireland and Scotland are out of the World Cup, it is natural for all British rugby supporters to hurl their weight behind the one remaining sceptr’d nation. We are all Welsh now.”

I’m not sure I’m comfortable with being a passing fancy. Then I read something even worse, it seems that the sporting results were part of a wider movement; Wales is officially ace;

There are three sheep for every human, and in winter it’s the wettest place in Britain. But today Wales, the most maligned member of the union, can hold its head up as the mightiest after becoming the only British country to secure a place in the semi-finals of the rugby World Cup.
 
Welsh rugby fans last night were celebrating a clinically executed 22-10 victory over Ireland in the quarter-finals, the first time Wales will play a semi-final in 24 years. And across the rest of the United Kingdom, the feeling was that we’re all happy to be Welsh now.
 
Yesterday’s triumph caps a run of recent sporting victories for Wales, which included a 2-0 win over the Swiss football team earlier last week, and last month’s 2-1 defeat of Montenegro, the team that England failed to beat on Friday

But it’s not just in sport that Wales is excelling. In food, literature and music, the country plagued by clichés of miners and male voice choirs is proving itself to be more than a match for its neighbours over the dyke.

Pontypridd actress Kimberley Nixon is the best thing about the new Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat and Alex Jones is a semi-permanent fixture on BBC TV, appearing every day of the week on The One Show and Strictly Come Dancing. On radio, Cerys Matthews maintains a high profile on Radio 6.
 
While not previously a destination for gourmets, Wales won its fourth Michelin star last Thursday when the 2012 Michelin guide was published. The Checkers in Montgomery, which opened only in 2008, now joins The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, The Crown at Whitebrook and Tyddyn Llan in Llan-drillo in boasting the most sought-after international culinary garland. The Checkers is part of a growing foodie scene centred on Abergavenny, home of an annual food festival, which one paper has described as being “to food what Cannes is to film”.
 
While the film scene is still nothing to give England or Scotland too much cause for concern, in books, the Welsh are on a roll. They already lay claim to Kingsley and Martin Amis, Roald Dahl and Jan Morris, but can now boast such names as Joe Dunthorne, whose debut coming-of-age novel Submarine has been made into a hit film, and Owen Sheers, whose first novel, Resistance, has been translated into 10 languages.
 
In music, Wales is recognised as home to some of the most original young talents. Yes, it did produce Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones, who both continue to entertain millions on worldwide tours, despite being in their seventies. But a new generation of artists can now be added to a list that includes Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals: there’s Marina and the Diamonds, currently polishing off a second album with Katy Perry’s producers, and The Joy Formidable gearing up for a tour with Foo Fighters.
 
Cardiff-born Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens, who is fluent in Welsh, says his country is enjoying a golden age. “The slightly hysterical vibe that came with the whole Cool Cymru thing 10 years ago, when people were really pushing being Welsh, that has faded away,” he says. “All that promise is paying off. There’s a lot of talent here – as there always has been – but it has become a lot more usual to take that talent, whether it’s for music or sports or art or whatever, outside the borders of Wales.”
 
Stephens points to TV presenter Steve Jones as another significant Welsh export. “You’ve got a Rhondda accent presenting the American version of The X Factor – that’s a big deal however you cut it. And people are bringing their good fortune and success home. Michael Sheen put on the massive Passion Play in Port Talbot this year and Manic Street Preachers have con-sistently made sure their success has benefited the communities they came from and the mu-sic scene in Wales in general. Yeah, it’s a pretty good time to be Welsh.”
Jesus have you read that! Wales is cool again. Yes Wales the place that has “three sheep for every human”, the place that’s the “wettest place in Britain”, yes Wales is cool. Yes Wales , “the most maligned member of the union” is cool…………Wait a minute if they have“the feeling was that we’re all happy to be Welsh now” why did they ask  AA Gill to write  the first sentence of the article? (In case you’ve forgotten AA Gill he was the contemptible fucker that described us Welsh as “loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls”. I don’t want to sound bitter about a cunt that uses an affectation like AA but I’ve sent a turd to the Sunday Times every week since 1998. How dare he call us “little“!!!)
 
I have a few problems with the article. Firstly it’s the patronising and hollow view of a roving eye, please take your roving eye and do one. The people that live in Wales already know Wales is cool. 
 
Secondly, a few sporting results are not an adequate barometer for the state of an area.  It’s probably true to say that witnessing a sporting victory helps people feel happy, and if it the victory is memorable enough it will be a fantastic memory, but usually it’s a momentary bit of joy it doesn’t create a substantially  “better life” for the people watching.
 
As good, and thrilling, as this weekend’s two performances were  I wonder if they really made much difference to the TATA steel workers or Conwy County Council workers that are worried about their jobs, could they put aside their worries for more than a few hours? Would someone that was made redundant a fortnight ago be able to share in the joy we’re all feeling?
 
Thirdly, I can’t stand this sort of article. Articles of this ilk are only produced when  a much maligned area or country has the temerity to do something unexpected, something that shocks funky media types.
 
All the much-maligned area needs is a few good sporting results, or a newly prominent actor, musician or tv location and the golden light of funky media types falls magically upon it. Henceforth the area becomes an erstwhile much maligned area and transforms, via the magical  golden light of the funky media types, into an area with all the gifts that civilisation can offer; charming boutique hotels, charming boutique beaches, charming boutique artisan bakers and charming boutique ipod stockists. As you can see from the article the totality of an area is involved.
 
Let’s look at what is making Wales so special at the moment; 3 sporting results, an actress, a tv presenter, a couple of radio presenters, a few over-priced restaurants, a couple of authors and a couple of new bands. This is what constitutes the fantastic new and vibrant place called  “WALES”. Hold on that doesn’t seem much, I must have misread it because the funky media types seem to be bullshitting.
 
The thing that really aroused my ire was the use of the  annoying ex-clothes horse Steve Jones as a symbol of this “new Wales”. You only need to say that this tosser is a T4 presenter and it’s enough of an indictment. T4 presenters have been described as “so annoying they make me want to punch my TV” and “the most unbearably trendy, contrived, smug, self-satisfied morons with their “oh…yah…so, like uber cool…” attitude and dress sense!”. If he’s a symbol of the new Wales I’ll turn the lights off on my way out.
 
Do me a favour funky media types leave my home alone, I already like the way it looks.
 




Trying to cheer up miserable gets doesn’t work

3 10 2011

A few weeks ago I began to worry about some of the Prestatyn fans on the message board that I belong to, ooops I mean “used to belong” to after yesterday. (I don’t want to go into this in any more detail than I have to, I’ll just say that yesterday will become known as the Day of Reckoning in the autobiography of the Llandudno Jet Set.). ……Anyway back to the story ……..  I began to worry about the Prestatyn fans on the board because they are subject to the most bestial abuse.

Try to imagine the position they find themselves in, if you can.

Try to imagine how you’d deal with fan after fan implying that your club’s manager “Neil “Gibbo” Gibson” is a snidey little twat.

Imagine how horrible it would be to read the words of fan after fan, from club after club, when they write about the “snivelling little fucker” that wears the  manager’s jacket for your club.

Imagine how you’d feel if you had to read that your club scars the league with the most horrible anti-football day after day after day.

Imagine if you had people question your sanity by calling you paranoid all the time.

Imagine it all. It would be tough.

Then I began to worry about the sanity of the Prestatyn fans. I worried that if Prestatyn suffered a heavy defeat in their next league match there would be a collective mental collapse, especially after enduring the bestial insults. I decided that I would travel  into the future to see what their next result would be. I wanted to help by forewarning them if it was bad news. Here’s what I found out;

5 mins – Town go 3-0 down, Gibbo threatens to sack himself for giving himself a lack of respect.

15 mins – Town go 4-1 down, Gibbo contemplates joining the priesthood.

25 mins – Town go 6-1 down. Gibbo stares at the deep dark abyss opening up in front of him and as asks “Why Me?”

35 mins – Town go 8-2 down, Gibbo stares at pitch, sees nature’s complexity & decides to write new series for David Attenborough

44 mins – Town go 10-2 down just before HT, Gibbo thinks the Lord moves in mysterious ways, his horoscope didn’t say this when he read Murdoch’s tabloid this morning.

60 mins – Town go 12-3 down, Gibbo is heard muttering about the advertising hoardings’ lack of respect.

65 mins – Town go 15-5 down. Gibbo is heard speaking in tongues while he paces the line.

75 mins – Town go 16-5 down. Watch Gibbo’s head spin whilst he projectile vomits a green liquid.

82 mins – Town go 17-5 down. A German priest shows up to perform Gibbo’s exorcism.

83 mins – Town are still down 17-5. The power of Christ compels Gibbo, the power of Christ compels Gibbo!!!

84 mins – Town go down 18-6. The evil spirit leave Gibbo but finds its way into Willo’s body, Willo jumps into clubhouse.

88 mins – Town go down 19-6. Gibbo mutters about “Evil’s” lack of respect for his club’s achievements.

89 mins – Town go down 20-6 in the last minute. Gibbo mutters about the illuminati’s grip on the Welsh Premier League

90 mins – Town lose 22-6. Gibbo puts on a foil hat & sits in centre circle. He starts rocking & muttering about “them”

At times I couldn’t believe my eyes, unbelieveable tekkers from the boy Monsignor Berthold made him my man of the match.

I did this to help them and what thanks did I receive? Nothing except the sound of silence. Then I thought that a bit of humour was just the ticket so I tried a few jokes;

Why did Gibbo cross the road?
Because the chicken was disrespecting him, his club and his achievements.

An Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman went into a pub. Gibbo left as they were disrespecting him, his club and his achievements.

How many Gibbos does it take to change a lightbulb?
One, but the lightbulb must show respect for him, his club and his achievements.

What’s the difference between Gibbo and the Pope?
Gibbo would never disrespect Gibbo, his club or his achievements.

If Gibbo fell in a deserted forest would anyone hear him muttering under his breath about “them”?

A Bangor Talbot fan went to the Doctor. “Doctor, Doctor I feel like a pair of curtains”
– “Well pull yourself together and stop disrespecting Gibbo, his club and his achievements”

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Gibbo
Gibbo who?
Neil Gibson, now stop disrespecting me, my club and my achievements.

Again this was met with silence. I was stuck, what should I do? The answer came on the road to Rhuallt when I was afflicted by a blinding light. A voice boomed from above;

“JUDGE NOT, LEST YE SHALL BE JUDGED. RESPECT THY FELLOWS!!!!”

I realised that God reads the Welsh-Premier forum and he obviously thought I was being disrespectful to Gibbo, his club and his achievements. 

At first I was afraid, I was petrified, I thought I could never live with the right to chide. Then I remembered that I was meant to be helping the Prestatyn fans. Then the realisation hit me. I must respect all men!!! I must help all men!!!!!

I was so overcome by the joyful feelings coursing through my body that I wrote a ballad in celebration of the achievements of my fellow man. It has a simple title;

“Gibbo – A Ballad”

I’ll tell a tale,
                     a thrilling tale of a character that’s beyond compare,
                                heart of oak, limb of teak and steely stare.
Three decades have passed since the glorious day,
             when our hero’s birth meant sun not grey.

The road he took was arduous, winding and well trod,
          turning boy to playing man, mortal into god.
Dragon’s red graced with style and elan,
             following Earnie, Danny and Leyton the plan.

Dark clouds when the rumour of release did tease,
                     they were true, the dream did cease.
Professional men cast him out, no thought to spare,
                      the cold shoulders of cold-hearted men,
                                  how do mortals bare?

But setbacks do not a hero break,
                   of opportunities do they make.
Our hero left for pastures new,
           his steely resolve became his mental glue.

A nomad’s ride was his new life,
with moments resting on the knife.
If only one could hear the adventure tales,
of up North, the Midlands and north Wales.

Then our hero found a home,
            the only absence a desire to roam.
The fickle mistress success arrived,
                   his new abode developed as he strived.

With heart of oak, limb of teak and steely stare,
                 the battles are won without care.
Leading his charges resplendent in red,
              The last remaining battle,
                                the voices in his head.

I tried, oh lord how I’ve tried but I received nothing in return except for silence.

As for the Prestayn fans, I soon realised that they are beyond hope. Despite the evidence to the contrary they go on deluding themselves;

“Gibbo never causes any problems, this whole thread was down to Bangor Talbot fans who have the hump with Gibbo, probably down to the fact that we get results against both teams.”

No son, I’ll think you found that people dislike Neil “Gibbo” Gibson because he likes to play football like a tosser with an attitude problem.





Things that show modern football is soooooo wrong.

10 09 2011

Number 569 – When parents become convinced their child is the new Messi, and make a video to prove it;





Things that show modern football is soooooo wrong.

8 09 2011

Number 568 – Football clubs discover the joys of litigation. In this case Arsenal;

“Arsenal have finally earned their first win of the season, but it’s not an on-pitch victory: the club has won a court case in Spain forcing the owner of a hat shop to change the name of her premises.

The Gunners have won their case against Seville resident Alicia Simon, who has now been told by the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office to change the name of her hat shop ‘Arsenale’.

Simon registered the name of her shop before she even opened it in 2007 despite protestations from the club, but Arsenal’s lawyers have been petitioning the Spanish authorities ever since, trying to convince them that she has infringed their trademark.”

The stunned shopkeeper, who admits to having no knowledge of football, pointed out that her shop does not even share the same spelling or pronunciation as the English football club, and that it is a word which carries “more connotations of culture than sport”.

But despite the apparent ridiculousness of their case, Arsenal have now successfully persuaded the Spanish authorities that there was a “risk of confusion” between the monolithic English football club and the tiny hat shop.

Simon named her shop after the Italian word ‘arsenale’, which was the name given to the shipbuilders’ yards in medieval Pisa and Venice. Her premises are in Seville’s Arenal de Sevilla district, where Seville’s ancient shipyards were located – hence her choice of the name.

Her shop concentrates on selling her self-designed hats, but she also sells shoes – bringing her under the umbrella of “clothes, hats and shoes” as seen by the patent and trademark office, and thus causing the infringement.

Simon has no intention of backing down, however: despite admitting that she feels in a ‘David v Goliath’ situation, she will not change the name of her shop and has already appealed the decision – thanks to a pair of friends who are lawyers – to a Madrid tribunal which will have the final say.

“I will fight this to the end,” she insists.





Things that show modern football is soooooo wrong.

7 09 2011

Number 567 – A sign outside a north Walian travel agent (Broughton)

Only 99 pounds you say, I’ll take  two!!!








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