THE events of May 29, 1985 are a permanent stain on Liverpool Football Club, a stain that Liverpool Football Club took far too long to take responsibility for.
The club’s immediate response to the disaster was ignominious, rushing to shift the blame and limit damage – it was a move that would ultimately do far more harm than good and remains a cloud over those that presided over the contemptuous finger pointing.
Belatedly, the club took steps to recognise their culpability and have made multiple conciliatory gestures, hosting two games at the club academy between the two sets of fans – one on the day of the Champions League quarter final in 2005 and one five years later on the 25th anniversary of the disaster, a week in which they unveiled a permanent memorial at Anfield.
In the aftermath of the disaster, 14 people were extradited, tried and convicted of involuntary manslaughter in September 1987.
It is our shame. We recognise that and have taken responsibility for it. We cannot undo the past, we can only learn from it and apologise for it.
Unfortunately, there are those that seek to exploit the deaths of 39 Juventus fans to attack Liverpool Football Club and its supporters, using the death of fellow football fans as currency in a ‘who can act the biggest cunt’ competition.
Some, unbelievably, have even sought financial gain, selling baby-grows referencing the disaster, only ceasing when the online company who produced the garments were alerted and cancelled production for the website in question.
Unfortunately, the internet truly is a global village, one with a disproportionate amount of idiots, all of whom seem to have a Twitter account.
That isn’t to say the benefits of social media don’t far outweigh the negatives, and it can only be expected that in an age when even a cat has a Twitter account, the demographic of people who use it broadly represents society as a whole – ie, you’re going to get a few dickheads.
As such, you would expect these dickheads, knowing they have the protection of faceless anonymity behind the safety of a keyboard, to act, well, like dickheads – let’s, for the sake of argument, call them the ‘dickhead brigade’.
The raison d’etre of the ‘dickhead brigade’ is to bait, to get a reaction by any means possible, whether its Heysel or Hillsborough, anything is fair game. We have our fair share too, who don’t think twice about mocking the Munich air disaster.
It is unpalatable but it is to be expected and generally ignored, I think the posh word for it is deindividuation – you expect it that from faceless shithouses.
But you wouldn’t expect it from one of the most respected football writers in the country – until last night.
Step forward Mr Patrick Barclay.
Reacting to, by Twitter standards, a fairly tame jibe about working for News International, Barclay, with his 40 years’ journalistic experience, responded in a manner normally exhibited by those he has no doubt pontificated over as scum who blight the game by playing the Heysel card.
As he expected and probably hoped, Barclay got a reaction before predictably accusing those reacting of ‘twisting his words’ but electing not to explain how the above could be twisted to sound any worse than it appears.
No doubt Barclay will again play the victim and flounce off Twitter as he has done previously, blaming those nasty Liverpool fans instead of taking responsibility for what he has published.
Barclay’s latter ridiculous claim that what he said was fair comment and that every Liverpool fan should feel responsible for Heysel was Basil Fawlty-esque in it’s crassness. I was four years old at the time, so presumably, using Paddy’s logic, I’m somehow culpable and so, dear reader, are you.
Notwithstanding the irresponsibility of his comments, coming off the back of months of faux-indignation from her majesty’s finest over the Suarez affair and in the week that Liverpool travel to Old Trafford, one could be forgiven for thinking that Mr Barclay has an axe to grind with Liverpool, or in this case, two.
The first, most obvious issue is one with the Liverpool fan base in general, whom he’s never forgiven for apparently hounding his mate Roy Hodgson out of a job, accusing us of viewing Hodgson as an ‘infidel’ in a spiteful attack on Dalglish after Kenny had pulled Liverpool back from the brink.
A selection of headlines from articles written by Patrick Barclay
Glibly comparing the appointment as Keeganesque, Paddy has never been shy to stick the knife in at any given opportunity, desperate to defend his and many of his peers’ choice for the office of Liverpool manager’s tenure at Anfield.
There is no denying that Hodgson was an obvious bad fit, a manager elected by an incompetent MD pandering to the national media, desperate to get the opinion formers, of which Paddy regards himself as, onside in his brave new vision for Liverpool, led courageously by Christian Purslow.
There is also no denying that a lot of the ‘clued up’ fanbase knew what Hodgson would bring and as a result never warmed to him, but that wasn’t why he failed, he failed on the pitch with his side playing the most insipid, dire, spineless football seen for a many a year at Anfield.
But rather than acknowledge that he got it wrong, that his mate was out of his depth, the embittered Barclay stuck to his guns, and as evidenced by his recent London Evening Standard column, still believes that somehow it was out fault we were flirting with relegation and had been knocked out of the cup by Northampton Town.
Although it is possible that Mr Barclay’s ire is much more base, having been recently ‘mutually consented’ from the post of Chief Football Commentator by The Times, a paper which has been staunch in its support of Hodgson’s successor (indeed, it was The Times that was the first paper to call for the appointment of Dalglish ahead of the now manager of West Bromwich Albion).
Regardless of whether it’s a problem with Liverpool supporters, or a bitter swipe at an ex-employer, or a combination of both, it is absolutely no excuse for using the Heysel Stadium disaster, whether privately or publicly, as capital to score points.
Maybe the dislike for Liverpool goes back a lot further and is a lot darker and deep-seated, this is after all, is the same journalist who, when commenting on Jimmy McGovern’s drama/documentary Hillsborough once wrote:
WHAT HAS been inadequately addressed by the film, the documentaries, the enquiries, was that five minutes before the disaster, the crowd control was about combating hooliganism.
Suddenly it was about crowd protection. Although there was appalling incompetence by the police, in a sense those who were bereaved, were bereaved by hooligans.
He also previously, in the Times, wrote a column on the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough crudely putting the Heysel and Hillsborough disasters in the same bracket, calling for ‘Justice for the 135’. What particular justice he wanted was never mentioned, despite lazily bracketing two of the darkest days in our history together with little explanation.
You would hope that the above two excerpts from previous articles is nothing more than ill-informed, uneducated, muddied thinking, because however bitter Mr Barclay may be about us or his previous employer, the alternative, for a man of such obvious intelligence to have such views about Hillsborough and hooliganism, despite all the education and progress made over the last few years, isn’t worth thinking about.
Top stuff Andrew.
Quite a few articles on this piece that I hadn’t read. I like to think I keep up with LFC goings on, and I knew about a number of attacks by Mr Barcley on the club. But this well researched piece fits a jigsaw together of an ugly picture.
I think he needs to take himself away and reflect for a while. His new employers might not be too keen for him to write his burlge for much longer.
I cannot agree more, what this troll has said is totally unforgivable. He has history too, and frankly I am surprised that his employers allow this sort of indiscriminate xenophobia to go unpunished. This man is a relic of a bygone age of media irresponsibility and as such should be resigned to the annals of history along with his career.
In memoriam horum qui in vita doluerunt – Not to say that this is my fault or that of any Liverpool fan alive either.
Good piece Andy.
Barclay wrote a biography of Fergie, say no more re his allegiances. Sooner he retires (actually, I mean that for both of them), the better.
It was fun to see people mess with his Wiki page yesterday – sadly it’s all been changed now, but I got a screen shot of it beforehand: http://twitpic.com/8gzts8
What a tool
It’s nice to see all the bile Barclay has spouted about us over the years summarised in such a tidy article.
Agree fully, but using the language of the ‘dickhead brigade’ early in the article lets it and you down somewhat. The core values of the piece will be dismissed by the chattering classes and LFC detractors. Good piece though
Spot on article again Andrew
Fantastic writing, well done. I was gobsmacked by Barclays outburst yesterday, but was unaware of how deep his dislike of Lfc ran, a real eye opener.
It isn’t just twitter – this blurt could part of the same gene ‘puddle’ that spawned clarkson…
Lets be honest ‘paddy’ was a divvie before twitter gave him an outlet for his ranty bollocks.
Great article which makes the point excellently. It’s unjustifiable and unforgivable from Barclay to use the Heysel tragedy in such a flippant and disrespectful way, he’s no doubt now got the attention he craves but has yet to show any remorse, he’s a total tool.
I just wish some of the so called hooligans had paid him a proper visit and put the facts to his face to to speak – He’s garbage, a sewer dweller of the worst kind…
Yesterday he wrote this on twitter:
“Someone has just called Suarez “the biggest cheat the Premier League has seen”. Is he? If not, who?”
I guess that someone is himself and back being a racist hounding the “Johnny foreigners” of the league – Not brave JT though!
Just for clarity over barclay stating a silly question.. its a matter of context:
paddybarclay Patrick Barclay
Okay, he was rude and silly. But don’t blame the Sky interviewer for not responding in kind. Why should he lower himself?
in reply to ↑
@paddybarclay Do you get any lower than taking murdoch’s ca$h?
So the sky interviewer needed to lower himself to respond to kenny!!
A great read Andy. My only fear is that our expressions of disgust will only serve to raise barclay’s profile, which I guess is all part of the plan given his ignominious departure from The Times.
A good article Andrew, and shows that Barclay has most definitely got an agenda against all things Liverpool (which has been clear to see for some time). I may have run before i could walk yesterday with comments i made on RAOTL about the Twit you wrote, so this has allayed my fears that “journos” cosy up to each other not matter what one has wrote. Anyway i’m going to you
“the benefit of doubt” and you are now back in my cool book.
Thanks for this Andrew. Especially for drawing my attention to his comments RE the Hillsborough Drama/Documentary. This man is a disgrace to his profession.
Notice he’s removed the tweets now – one in particular wasn’t mentioned in your article – Paddy’s assertion that every Liverpool fan, regardless of age, is partly responsible for those deaths.
Not seen him try to explain that one yet.
So Paddy engages LFC fans on twitter knowing he will get a reaction. This happens to be on a night he before he is due to appear on a so called ‘sports radio channel’ hosted by perhaps two of the biggest blerts known to British football.
Seems a bit staged though i’m lost to know the reasoning or logic behind it. But bearing in mind the various individuals concerned, that is not altogether surprising.
Barclay tried to get in a cheap shot, made him feel good that he got, in his mind ‘a witty & winning response’.
News for Barclay: you’re a horrible cunt.
Why would someone sink so low to get the shot in?
For Barclay and a few more like him, I suspect the alternative I think you’re referring to is worth thinking about, unfortunately.
I was at Heysel, part of a group of 8. We were outside the ground when the wall broke, making our way towards it. How does that make us complicit in what happened Barclay? It makes as much – or as little – sense to say the whole of Yorkshire should share the blame for the Yorkshire Ripper.
interesting that the journalistic consensus is that he’s made a bit of a gaffe and yet he’s sat in sanctimonious judgement over suarez with something allegedly said to evra and yet this is something he’s broadcast on his twitter feed. its a disgrace and – like racist oliver holt – he should be held to account.
the whole top and bottom of it is that the mainstream media doesnt like that it cant dictate to liverpool fans,we,more than any other fan base can see right through pricks like barclay and dont give a fuck about there opinions on football,They know this,and thats when the snide comments on heysel and hillsboro get thrown in,trying to get our attention. Theres fellas in ale houses in every street in liverpool who have forgot more about football than these cunts will ever know.
I think Barclay’s twitter comment last night is testimony to the thinly disguised contempt that he has held Liverpool fans in for a considerable time.
Thanks for writing this article Andy.
It doesn’t say much for Barclay’s intelligence that the obvious reply to the pillock along the lines of “Yes it does, being a nobody abusing strangers on Twitter for no reason is probably lower” didn’t occur to him.
Or maybe it did, and he just preferred to reply in a way that suggests he believes every Liverpool fan present at Heysel was responsible for 39 people being killed (when there were a total of 14 people convicted and an estimated 100 or so involved out of about 25,000 Liverpool fans present in Brussels). That would say even less for his basic maturity and decency than it does for his intelligence.
Like most Liverpool fans I think Barclay was a blinkered, cronyist moron with regard to Hodgson, not to mention arrogant in his attitude to those who criticised his views, but when I saw that reply retweeted yesterday I couldn’t believe it and I genuinely wondered whether his account had been hacked. It’s the kind of thing that Republik of Mancunia blog troll has made his distinctly unpleasant name on, and it’s not the kind of thing I’d ever expect from any journalist. But if I knew about some of the other things he’s written before which are mentioned in this article (very well researched and written by the way Andy), I probably would have known not to expect better and not to think that, being a bag of hot air aside, he was probably a decent enough bloke.
Excellent read Senor Heaton!
I would recommend PB read that – but it’s a little more difficult for his beginner level.
Kudos+cheers for writing that :)
Having read the comments that Barclay has made in the past, surely we need to ask why Tony Evans chose to employ him and to continue employing him? If only there was a website were Tony was a contributor so that Andy could put that question to him…
Mark, I actually know the answer to that question, but I’m sure if you asked the man himself he’d be more than happy to answer.
Do tell Andy. Or am i to take it that it is not for public consumption?
PS I would just like to point out that I am NOT the same Mark who has posted the comments below at timed at 9:58
Can Tony tell us why James Lawton is still employed as well because if you look at some of the articles he wrote about Rafa, Suarez and Kenny he is not far behind Barclay`s myopic view of the world. Anyway great article Andy with excellent research.
Excellent blog post. The research of the stories by PB to highlight his bias in previous press stories is highly commendable.
I think you lot need to calm down, your club is backing a man who admitted using racial slurs against an opponent, the same man described as a cheat during the last World Cup. Other incidents in your crowd and you jump on Barclay for defending himself against some nobhead? By the way, your club captain took Murdoch’s cash many times in various ghost written columns, plus we all take it from Sky.
LFC – Offended by everything, ashamed of nothing.
Put that on a banner.
No he didn’t, and the FA’s 115 page report into the investigation cites absolutely no evidence whatsoever that he did, besides the word of a man with a history of giving them “unreliable” and “exaggerated” evidence, and who changed his mind about the word he claimed was used, and how many times he claims it was used. And what exactly has a deliberate handball in a World Cup match got to do with racism you fucking mentally backward tit? By that rationale, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes must be members of Combat 18, as they’ve both handled the ball deliberately on the line before. Are they? Do us a fucking favour dickhead.
And if Barclay wanted to defend himself against some knobhead, why insinuate that everyone present at Heysel was responsible for the 39 deaths? Do you agree that they were? He could have just said that it’s far lower to abuse strangers on Twitter than it is to take Murdoch’s cash, which would actually have applied to the pillock asking the question (being at Heysel probably didn’t). Shame he didn’t just settle for that.
Now, until you can at last support your bitter antagonism with something resembling reasoning, fuck off.
Well put. No vitriol needed – something’s clearly wrong with him.
I got talking to Barclay on the plane home from Basle. He seemed genuinely delighted we got knocked out that night. I thought he was a cock then. I think he’s vermin now.
I think paddy loves the beautiful game,just not the ghastly working classes who follow it and clearly spoil his view.Perhaps the cup final could be held at Glyndebourne.
Maleven, suarez admitted to calling evra a negro. by doing that he admitted to referring to his skin colour. i don’t know about you but i don’t usually refer to someone’s skin colour when i’m arguing them them. and to claim he was doing this in a reconcilatory manner after having snidely pinched him was laugable. add in the fact his own liverpool collegues gave very different testimony was the reason he wasn’t believed. and if he and liverpool were so sure of his innocence why exactly didn’t they appeal?
sadly the first few paragraphs of this article could easily have been written about liverpool’s reaction to the evra suarez row.
Do you speak Spanish?
Then your point is fucking void. The case found no evidence of a use of the word ‘negro’ which would be considered offensive besides Evra’s word, despite about 15 players being in the penalty area where Evra and Suarez were at the same time (Suarez was adamant he only used the word in a conciliatory context, him saying that doesn’t making him innocent but Evra’s word alone doesn’t make him guilty). How far would one man’s word against another get you in a criminal hearing? Well I’ll tell you, there wouldn’t be a hearing the first place because it wouldn’t get that far. Go and get a basic grasp of the case and the linguistic context before you pipe up with utterly moronic arguments like that you ignorant pillock.
“Very different” testimony? For fuck’s sake, Evra’s *own* testimonies contradict themselves in terms of the word he alleges was used, and how many times. If that’s the case, how can you dismiss Suarez’s own account on the basis of it’s inconsistencies while using Evra’s inconsistent accounts to damm Suarez? Does that seem even handed to you?
I suspect Liverpool didn’t appeal because if the FA were going to decide Suarez was guilty based solely on Evra’s word, with their bullshit procedures (which the government have been pressuring them to overhaul), they were hardly likely to be receptive to having their mind changed by any appeal, and would have been likely to increase the length of the ban.
Great article Andy.
I was listening to ‘Talkshite’ in the car when ‘Smash It’ announced Barclay was coming on to talk about the papers, bearing in mind what had transpired the previous night I was fucking gobsmacked. I had to listen to see if they would even bring it up. To be fair they did, however Keyes, in my opinion was doing his best to get a media buddy to apologise in order to get him off the hook, but Barclay’s painful rejection of those opportunities only served to underline his guilt. It was truly awful listening.
Even AG sounded disgusted with Barclay to me (never thought I’d find him on the side of LFC mind) it was only my reading of the situation but nonetheless I got the impression he was at the very least unimpressed.
The fucking awful account of Barclays formative journalistic years in which he met and befriended Shankly, Peter Robinson et al was almost too much to bare, as were his references to having his words ‘twisted’.
Genuinely disappointing that these dangerous fools are given the platform to influence public opinion.
You all that live in the Uk, that’s what your “hate Police” are for. Report Bartely & every one of the rest of them every time the voice such views.