By Karl Coppack
A thread on a Liverpool forum recently asked if LFC are becoming hated. The opening post read…
“Ahead of today’s game Moyes had been saying that neutrals want Everton to win. Now I know he’s playing games but it got me thinking, I always seem to remember us being a club a lot of neutrals liked (even if it was secretly) but recently with everything happening around the club -from spending millions to the Suarez debacle and to our outright support for Kenny (most people just can’t fathom where our faith comes from) has this led to people outside of our support to start to dislike us? Even hate us?”
We all have our initial thoughts and feelings on this. My first response was to wonder why Moyes feels he can speak for the neutrals of the nation but I suspect the majority of other readers will raise their shoulders, snort and say ‘I don’t care if we’re hated or not.’ I’d like to look at the reasons for this. It isn’t easy to be objective as I’m a Scouser who has lived in London for years and have sat through the tiresome hubcap jokes and Harry Enfield impressions but I’ll try my best. I’ll also try not to make this an exercise in pro-Scouse sabre rattling.
Although not everyone who supports Liverpool is a Scouser you can’t take the Scouse element and the ethos of the city out of the equation. People seem to have a Marmite approach to us and either see us as nice, decent warm hearted people or a bunch of whining fuckwits who would steal anything that isn’t nailed down. What’s more we’re a distinctive group and easy to spot. The Scouse accent is an unusual one centralised to a few miles, easily mocked or impersonated and a difficult one to disguise. Some of us talk like Phil Redmond, others like John Bishop. It’s not pleasing on every ear so an assumption can be made upon hearing only a few words.
Scousers are both welcoming and stand-offish – capable of great kindness and great distrust at the same time. Alexei Sayle once pointed out that Scousers can be optimistic in the face of shocking adversity and pessimistic in times of great joy – a sense of ‘it’s not that bad’ when it really is and grumpiness at inappropriate times. In 2005 I bumped into a mate in the Albert after a pretty average Liverpool side beat Juventus 2-1 at Anfield – a result we dared not dream of the year before. I was ready to share his elation but was met with a frown and a mumbled ‘It won’t be enough, will it?’ I loved that.
This mixture of joy and gloom even made it into Beatles’ lyrics…
‘I have to admit it’s getting better, a little better all the time
(It can’t get no worse)’
Scouse humour or ‘humour’ isn’t always appreciated throughout the nation. Despite his inane views of late I agree with some of Alan Davies’ ‘comic’ statements from his appearance on Room 101. There is a common misconception that everyone from Liverpool is hilarious. That’s not even close to being true. Stan Boardman and Freddie Starr both have the ‘chirpy gobshite’ look and it’s a hard thing to stomach. They’re known as Liverpool comedians rather than comedians as their accents signpost them to the city. We don’t all love Stan Boardman. When he wandered onto the pitch in his Nazi uniform during Rush’s testimonial he was shouted off by the Kop. Jimmy Tarbuck was booed off before the 1988 Cup Final when he played in a charity game. See also Carla Lane.
The funniest Scouser? Bill Kenwright. Well he makes me laugh.
Liverpool is a proud city. Maybe sometimes it overdoes that pride and appears overly boastful. This is a common trait from those who sing the city’s praises yet rarely visit (Cilla). That can be deeply irritating to outsiders, particularly if you can’t see Liverpool as being different from any other city. I’m just as guilty at this. During the ‘Madchester’ period I would roll my eyes every time I heard musicians, DJs and actors bang on about how great Manchester is. They haven’t even got a river.
What else? Well, there’s the dole scrounging car stealing scally stereotype. Boys from the Blackstuff did much to highlight the dour state of the city when this nonsense started while Carla Lane, her again, gave us Bread which re-established the typecast crooked but funny layabout. Which version is the easiest to believe? Not only are Scousers all loveable thieves, their writers are openly boasting about it on prime time telly. It’s not always a giant leap of faith to hear the word ‘Liverpool’ and have that mental image at the same time.
Back to the football. Liverpool is one of the most successful clubs ever but no one likes a smart arse who tells the world how great they are. As the game’s become more popular thanks to the relentless onslaught of the Joe 1990s we’ve suddenly become a common enemy or laughing stock. In the 70’s and 80’s there were plenty of Liverpool fans in the country’s playgrounds as it’s easy to support the most successful team. I have plenty of mates who chose to support other clubs just to be different and some of them have built an animosity towards LFC based on that and that alone. There’s a glamour to supporting unsuccessful teams. Many of us have a soft spot for a second team based on that feeling. I have a Forest mate who was born in Hastings and has never been to Nottingham. I once asked his opinion of Derby Country – ‘Scum’. It’s nice to be different. It all goes to make a world.
Liverpool won everything back then so when Sky and the Souness era came along it was great to see the tormenting Liverpool legends be brought down to earth with a bump and Paul Stewart. We kept on singing, of course, and it’s the indefatigability that irks them the more. What have we got to be proud about when Bristol City are knocking us out of the Cup at Anfield? Liverpool, that’s what.
Even when the city was on its arse we still came back. High unemployment? Fuck you; we’ve won the League again. A city rife with heroin and poverty? Have four European cups to go with them – something you’ll never ever match in your wildest dreams and we’re fucking proud of it and will out-sing and out-shout you wherever we go which will be fucking everywhere.
Well, okay a bit of pro-Scouse sabre rattling.
Liverpool FC are an insular group. We have our traditions and don’t mix well with other clubs and fans. Many have the England thing to cling onto while we shout our separatism from the rooftops. I remember being at Reading away when the ‘We’re Not English’ shout went up and seeing the locals absolutely gobsmacked. Gobsmacked and then furious. They were genuinely offended rather than appalled for the sake of it. I still get it at work when the World Cup’s on. I’ve been told ‘why don’t you fuck off back up there then?’ I will one day. Thanks for the advice. They don’t understand that we support our national team every week and it’s a credo like that that infuriates the anti-LFC brigade. The Mancs are like that too but they seem to be more palatable as they have a strong support with the Joe 1990s due to their post 1993 success. If Liverpool and United have one thing in common, and that’s one thing more than we’d like to admit, it’s that we like to sit in our fiefdom and favour the rest of the nation with a haughty stare.
Then there’s Suarez and subsequent PR nightmare. For the record I believe the club handled the whole thing poorly and that Suarez had a case to answer. I don’t believe he’s a racist and I don’t believe the club advocated racism in any way but I’m fairly sure that had this happened to, say, Reading, it wouldn’t have got half the press copy it did. How do I know this?
Because it did happen to Reading. The difference was encapsulated in one term – LFC.
Then it became the focus for national outrage leading the Uruguayan being compared to murderers by men who should know better. Had the ‘debate’, for want of a better word, actually been about racism I would have applauded but it wasn’t. It was a joyful condemnation of the club rather than the issue.
Course, it’s easy to argue that I’m being a paranoid whinging Scouser who is defending the indefensible but I’m just wondering where the media were for John Mackie who, in a similarly regrettable incident, was banned for eight matches, five of which were suspended, and fined £3,000, £1,500 of which was suspended. I don’t recall Reading being dragged through the mud and having ‘RACIST’ headlines in 72 point font in the back of the Daily Mirror.
Yes, Liverpool is the bigger club and thus the bigger story but surely no bigger than the actual issue. It was made worse by the fact that we defended our man and refused to throw him to the jackals. Suddenly we became ‘Klanfield’ and anyone with a voice shouted the club down. I’m not saying that this was our finest hour, far from it, but anyone with an agenda came out. Jason Roberts told 606 listeners that his Liverpool supporting mates wanted United to win at Old Trafford after the non-handshake such was their disgust. Jesus.
I suspect this panto didn’t make us unpopular. It merely added to the ammunition.
Of course just by pointing this out I’m adding credence to the ‘always the victims, never your fault’ view that comes with the fans’ insularity. See, we can’t defend ourselves as it instantly becomes ‘whinging’ and ‘paranoid’. If you can be derided but not allowed to defend yourself what sort of world do we live in? We’ll laugh at your poverty, call you thieves, murderers and racists and don’t you dare complain about it. Oh, fuck off.
That’ll be us being oversensitive. In 2008 Steve Coogan reacted to a terrible one man show in Liverpool by saying ‘Us Brits can laugh at ourselves and show each other affection by taking the piss out of each other. Liverpudlians can’t do that.’ He prefaced that by saying ‘We were never going to get good reviews from Liverpool as Scousers hate Mancunians and the feeling is very mutual.’
Me, I’m always going to gigs of people I don’t like. It’s interesting that Coogan’s natural defence is to criticise his audience rather than his poorly rehearsed show. Why? Because it’s an established target and one with which he’ll be guaranteed a certain sympathy from some quarters.
Incidentally, I really like Steve Coogan and I don’t care where he was born. I also like The Buzzcocks so shoot me. Yes the two cities aren’t the best of mates to say we can’t laugh at ourselves is stupid and childish. Still, it’s ‘out there’ now so let’s add that to the list.
From one great comedian to Alan Davies. I took his comments to be overly laddy and crass but as it was confined to a podcast I wasn’t unduly bothered. The press got hold of it because they knew Liverpool would react (that’s me being paranoid again) and loved it. It gave them another opportunity to poke us in the ribs during the hardest week in the year and the comments section of the hard right newspapers dug in for more jibes.
My favourite comment was from the Telegraph accusing Liverpool of playing the ‘Hillsborough card in the same way Jews play the Holocaust card’. Well, quite. The Telegraph comments were disgusting, offensive, erroneous (‘Why don’t they play on the 29th May?’ How many games are played on that date?) and worst of all, not untypical.
Davies made a conciliatory gesture but it was too late and he had inadvertently legitimised some Chelsea fans disrupting the minute’s silence. My point here is not about Davies but more of an escalation of abuse. It’ll continue too. Some knobheads sent him death threats so the story changed. He’ll no doubt cancel his gig in September citing the threats made by ten year olds and ‘win’ the argument – and it was us who were attacked in the first place! Expect his book ‘My Liverpool Hell’ any day now. Preface by S. Coogan.
Paranoid again? Yeah, okay.
As a fan group and a city we like to shout our views but are also prepared to listen. I’ve no doubt Oliver Holt was surprised at the way he was treated by the Anfield Wrap podcasters and I’ve no doubt that Alan Davies will be treated respectfully if he chooses to appear. He may be expecting Adidas and North Face clad skinheads with knuckle-dusters but he’d only get a good argument and a damn fine cake.
That’s another thing. We love an argument. Absolutely love it. Not everyone does. Without bigging up the podcast too much it’s a good example. There’s seldom a consensus on there even though they agree about the broad strokes. The same goes for the fans and the city. We don’t necessarily respect authority and that’s not always been popular. A work colleague recently cut out Patrick Barclay’s latest diatribe from the London Evening Standard (Liverpool being from London, of course) and dropped it onto my desk with a ‘See, you really are shite’ expression. When I pointed out that he’s a bit of a tit these days I was greeted with a sour expression and ‘He’s a very knowledgeable and respected journalist’. Who was I to argue?
Sometimes we can’t win so there’s no point in playing. If we’re disliked then so be it. I’m happy with what I am and who we are. Maybe that’s part of the problem. We don’t ask people to like us; we just love people who do.
Maybe I failed in my attempt not to sound like a Scouse supremacist. We’re neither a perfect club nor a perfect fan base. We have a fair selection of cretins following us be it in opinions, behaviour or anything else but I’d like to think we’re mostly fair. We’re argumentative, disrespectful to those who don’t earn respect, insular, overly cynical and overly optimistic and always, always ready to fight the world.
What’s not to like?
That’s a well-written article and I agree with much of it. Your comments on the insular / proud is very close to what I’ve always seen and perceived. I’ve long had a theory that there are some cities, some clubs who are naturally alike and this is one of the elements that makes them similar. Take for instance Glasgow, Dublin, Liverpool, Newcastle. Put a random sample of regular people together in a foreign city and they’d get on well. Bristol, Manchester, London, Southampton? I suspect the first group would unite in making fun of the second. All have a similar sort of chip on the collective shoulder.
Anyway…that wasn’t my reason for commenting. I wanted to note that this is about the best piece of pure writing that I have seen on here – so thank you, and further contributions would be appreciated.
Give that man a byline photo.
Really, really enjoyed that.
After the Chelsea disruption of the “period of silence” on Sunday my mate said to me that he felt Millwalls slogan of “no-one likes us, we dont care” was far more suited to us.
I would say we are quite popular in our unpopularity.
People love to hate us. And I would be more worried if they suddenly developed an indifference, or even worse, a warm patronising tone towards us. Let Everton enjoy that.
I was close to calling it that.
The rest of the country has never got us at all. We’ve more in common with a port city with a mad fusion of personalities like a Marseilles, a Naples, a New York than most of the UK. Oh and the only winners out of the racism story were Sky Sports and Earl Barrett reminding us he was still alive. Nothing to do with racism, everything to do with the creation of a new pantomime villan.
I’m glad we are different.
Yeah I can vouch that anyone not living on home turf has probably taken a fair bit of stick this season as a liverpool fan. Sometimes it’s actually quite bitter and it feels a bit personal. Sometimes I find myself agreeing.
Alan Davies brought to light opinions that outsiders have felt but not expressed. It probably was a catalyst for the situation with the Chelsea fans but it’s out in the open now and it’s something to deal with. I don’t hate Alan Davies for his opinions. If I go to his show, I won’t throw any tomatoes.
What I believe Alan’s comments highlighted is something I notice a lot. That sometimes people forget that the Hillsborough memorial is two fold: We’re thinking about two issues on April 15, not just one. Alan forgot that outside of a memorial it’s also part of an ongoing campaign to raise awareness about a smear campaign which is still seeking resolution.
And that’s why (for all the unfathomable tragedies that have happened at what should be happy events) this day has added significance and has become more vocal than a time of quiet reflection. The consequence unfortunately is that Liverpool fans come across as public self-grievers, which has been harsh.
But that’s why I’m not going to have a go at Alan Davies. It’s not going to help calling him a [email protected] I’d rather he was on Liverpool’s side and would always encourage that.
Hey, last year everyone hated Newcastle and now I think people are generally quite pleased for them! So who knows, we could be the next Newcastle! I enjoyed reading this article and agreed with alot of the comments made. I think it’s better to be liked than disliked and for loads of reasons I think it’s something that Liverpool should continue to strive at… being liked that is!
P.s. You didn’t add ‘The End’ to the list of things that helped stereotype Liverpool?
Compared to Alan Davies everyone in Liverpool is hilarious including Boardman and Starr
Outside looking in, I think you’re becoming overly sensitive.
Are LFC hated? No. Have you had bad press recently? Yes. Does that affect how you’re perceived in the short term? Yes, very likely. Will it be forgotten soon enough? Yes. Did neutrals want Everton to win? Probably but I doubt very much it was based on who their opponents were. The job David Moyes has done there is outstanding and neutrals would generally like for him to have something to show for it.
I would also argue fans of all the “elite” clubs in the premier league would rather see their club successful than the national team. That’s not a news flash.
Every grouping of people under a banner, be it a football club, region, religion, colour, creed etc develop a “us” and “them” mentality. You ask any football fan in general and he’ll or she’ll tell that their fans are something special. Newcastle fans are lauded for being the best and most loyal by the press but I don’t see them any more loyal or better than any other set of fans.
Surely EFC would be equally hated as they are from Liverpool and all the cultural traits you have highlighted would be applied to them just the same?
Crip, you state: “The job David Moyes has done there is outstanding and neutrals would generally like for him to have something to show for it.”
What evidence do you have for this? Why do you think Moysie has done an outstanding job? He doesn’t have money now, but he has had money and quite a lot of it in the past – the ninth most expensive squad in the Premier League in fact. So, by the laws that govern the premier league since Sky invented football in 1992, Everton should finish mid-table and, true to form, they often do. Nothing outstanding about that.
I like Everton, my sis is a bluenose, and I want them to do well. But these myths about Moyes are becoming as tedious as “Rafa spent loads of money; Lucas is shit; ‘arry is a winner…and plenty more besides.
Fair question and I’d argue what evidence you have that he HAS had alot of money to spend?
I reference the TransferLeague website which has David Moyes 19th based on his net spend. Averaging £1.1M net a season on player purchase. I think we can safely say that is a very modest sum and would suggest based on that his final placing in the PL table demonstrates EFC punching above their weight.
Feel free to reference the fact he has the 9th most expensive PL squad, I’d be interested in seeing that.
But it’s not just the financial aspect that defines the job he has done. You hear very little of from his players being unhappy and seeking other moves which demonstrates to me his players are incredibly loyal to him. Maybe you might argue the players are of a certain level and EFC fits that profile. For me the fact he is able to keep his players “happy” speaks volumes for his man management skills.
Not sure who is perpetuating the myth Lucas is shit…Rafa spent money, also evidenced on the transfer league, net spend per season £17 million…as for ‘arry….well it’s Keegan all over again.
The numbers on that site are debatable… for example, Suarez and Carroll were apparently bought by both Dalglish and Hodgson! A lot of the number are like the numbers quoted in the papers, and there are missing sums too.
However, that is not the point. The fact is that Moyes hasn’t spent that much, and in the same time frame, Liverpool managers have spent more. Rather than position the LFC guys as profligate, it’s worth pointing out that they were spending a proportion of the profit the club makes. Moyes spends most of the profits of Everton and what every else Kenwright can stump up for him, which isn’t a lot.
There is no doubt in my mind that Moyes has been reasonably astute and when he buys a turkey he usually manages to sell it on without losing out too much,
But that still doesn’t explain why he is so revered. They DO punch a little above their weight, but equally there are times that are signs of Moyes’ limits. For example, in the FA semi this year, Everton had the ideal opportunity to really press on, but they fouled it up, substantially because of Moyes mental and tactical approach.
It’s the same with Roy Hodgson – do a respectable job at a lower club an people automatically scale it up, and assume that they will be proportionally even more successful at a bigger club.
I suspect Moyes does have his limits, and he’d have a struggle at a top club. However, he hasn’t been given that chance so this is pure speculation. And that also should detract from the things he has done right.
You are obviously a journalist.So let me ask you; where do you get your material?How do you decide what to write about?Do you travel the Country seeking out individual views?Do you interview a couple of thousand people before presenting your conclusions?
Or do you read the papers,watch T.V. and listen to the radio to see which way the wind is blowing?
I travelled the Country regularly in the 80’s.I encountered fans from all over the place.Newcastle,Spurs,Arsenal,Birmingham,Glasgow and even Chelsea.They all had great respect for Liverpool and it wasn’t a grudging respect.
So what changed? Well the main thing was Hillsborough.Not so much the tragedy in itself but more the way it was reported and the misguided opinions that were formed from the minute those headlines appeared.
You might say that fans attach themselves to successful Clubs.But those same people I knew in the 80’s detest Manchester United.Why?Well most of them smell a rat!
I watched a documentary a week or so ago about News International and how they undermined and eventually destroyed ITV’s attempt to launch their own digital T.V.They used every trick in the book and nearly 20 years later we can begin to see how corrupt that organisation is and always has been.
Gerrard Houllier alluded to the source of a story about Robbie Fowler a few years ago.He said that you didn’t have to look too far up the East Lancs Road to see where the story came from.
LFC has been comprehensively and systematically slaughtered in the media for the last few years and increasingly so in the last 12 months since Dalglish was appointed.
Can you think of any good reasons for this?When Hodgson was in charge the media was constantly defending him and criticising the Supporters.Now there is an about face and Dalglish is regularly the subject of criticism and ridicule.
Anyway,the media is a powerful thing and those who call the shots are even more powerful.
Maybe one day we’ll see how an innocent question at Old Trafford a few months ago resulted in the journalist being banned from the place.Maybe we’ll discover why we have such distorted coverage of everything that happens at Anfield.Maybe I’m paranoid.
But from the moment that headline appeared after Hillsborough I realised that whoever controlled the media controlled the minds of the people.And whether it’s politics or sport it’s a powerful force,especially in the wrong hands!l
Curious, do you care to expand on which Robbie Fowler story you mention here and point me in the direction of the allusion Gerrard Houllier made?
As for an “innocent” question resulting in a reporting being banned. Well, I place innocent in quotation marks simply based on your response where the media is “all evil” when reporting on LFC and “innocent” in it’s queries at Old Trafford. Personally not suggesting either, just curious about your interpretation.
I will however accept, the media and government as well the police force have alot to answer for in terms of Hillsborough and hopefully that is something we will get full transparency on in the near future. It really could have happened to any club.
Here’s some fun analysis of predictions of finishes in this year’s premier league by Tomkins et al based on squad cost (Everton have the 9th costliest squad in 2011/12 at 80millions or so – therefore they should finish….9th by this model):
In your own source: http://www.transferleague.co.uk/transfer-fees-v-league-positions/premier-league-2002-2007.html you can see that Moyes was allowed to spend up until the last two windows when he had a negative spend (not unlike Rafa) so a net spend of 1.1 million on average over 10 years is a bit misleading.
If Moysie can keep the blues going by not spending anything in the summer and beyond then I would agree that he should be called an outstanding manager. We will see…
Thanks for the link. I’ll need to do some reading to get a fuller understanding of the numbers.
Though one thing to note, I would suggest based on the info provide it would be reasonable to expect Everton to have 9th costliest squad in the PL based on a number of factors;
a) Everton have been in the PL since it’s inception and and at least 9-10 of the teams in the current PL have not been there since that time or throughout the entire duration. The point here is, EFC will only have always been looking to buy PL quality players whereas other sides would have purchased players in the lower leagues (thus lower cost) and as a result these players may form a part of the squad and would provide arguably a skewed figure for the purposes of analysis.
b) Also important to note based on the above EFC squad cost is calculated to be £88M which puts it considerably further behind AV and SFC and proportionally not that far ahead of Newcastle, Fulham and Stoke who have not had a full un-interrupted stay in the PL.
We are in danger of course of getting into the semantics and as a result the argument could be equally well presented from either side based on interpretation of data.
What I feel for certain is, the job David Moyes has done is rightly lauded. How good a job that is, well I think the best barometre of judgement would be the sentiments of EFC fans. Historically speaking, they are a big club and despite the mid table finishes you don’t hear of any EFC fans pointing the figure at Moyes and wanting change, unlike the odd delusional Arsenal fan who has called for Wenger to go.
A manger’s greatest critics are the fans of the club he manages.
Well said Brian B above… everything changed after Hillsborough…it really was the end of the golden summer in many many ways… Jimmy Tarbuck incidentally wrote to all the Hillsborough familes so gets my props for that alone
I don’t think we were ever forgiven for the Anfield Rap TBH…
Well, it wasn’t one of our finer moments…
I’m not a journalist and only write about whatever’s bugging me at the time.
I found the Barclay incident quite interesting. This colleague used it against me (in a ‘banterish’ way) as gospel that we’re shit because a journalist (and at one point a respected one) had said so. That spoke volumes to me.
I once had an interview for a Parliamentary magazine (sales, not writing) and the talk got around to Hillsborough. The bloke said he hadn’t read up on the events of the day but had heard that it down to hooliganism. No research, not particularly arsed and no axe to grind but that was his default position.
Loved that. My parents are Scouse but I was brought up in Surrey and I 100% agree with the generic stereotype of a city that actually has more culture than the entire South East (barring perhaps London) put together. I find it offensive and lazy. Now I live in the USA I get the British stereotype every day and it does my effin head in, especially as I am not the posh twat supposed stereotype they’re trying to do – nor am I Austin Powers! Love thy Scouser, I wish I was one :)
You only have to listen to Barclay’s comment when John Barnes asked him where he was when he was getting racist abuse and Barclay said “Oh! John I was only a junior hack reporter then!” He was Chief Football Correspondent for The Independent at the time!
Message to Crip,
If you keep having to do more reading and research to understand what’s going on you’re on the wrong page!
But thanks for the effort!
I reckon Karl Coppack is a really handsome man with huge biceps.
Any chance of a picture?
Great read, am a Red from the Wirral aged 48, so remember the good and the bad. Have always had a certain respect for United, though can’t say the same about sme of their employees or their comments.
However, isn’t Freddie Starr from Birkenhead rather than Liverpool???
Sad to see the Liverpool fans booing the national anthem at the cup final.
Someone needs to shake up the ‘culture’ of LFC and fast.
God knows what the American owners thought of that.
I mean dont sing it fine. But booing our own anthem. FFS.
No class these days. Many many peoples second team once.