Alan Davies got it wrong on Twitter but in the real world there are far more serious issues for fans
TOMORROW John Glover will try to go to Anfield for the annual memorial service on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. If he can get there, it will be his last.
John is in the terminal stages of cancer. Ian, his son, died at the age of 20 on the Leppings Lane terraces before the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989. The Glover family is still waiting to learn the exact circumstances of the last, nightmarish hour of Ian’s life. Another 95 families are in a similar position. Yet this week, the discourse about Hillsborough has been dominated by a comedian on Twitter.
Alan Davies, the star of Jonathan Creek, made some misjudged remarks on a podcast. First, he rightly criticised the timing of this weekend’s FA Cup semi-finals. Chelsea, who play Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow at Wembley, kick off at 6pm, a ridiculous piece of scheduling given that the West London club face Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday. Davies suggested the cause was that Liverpool refused to play on April 15 and questioned why this was allowed to happen. But he missed the point.
The timing is less about Liverpool’s reluctance to play on the anniversary than the Football Association’s desire to maximise revenues from Wembley. A sensible solution would have been to play the Liverpool-Everton match at Old Trafford today at 12.30pm and Chelsea’s tie in London at 5.30pm.
What happened next is disturbing. A substantial number of Liverpool fans bombarded Davies with abuse and threats on Twitter. Even an apology did not halt the avalanche of invective. A backlash began and, as Davies withdrew from the argument, there were plenty of voices ready to give another airing to the clichés about “whingeing Scousers” A storm on Twitter is a dust devil rather than a typhoon: it blows up quickly and dissipates, leaving little damage. However, the abuse of Davies cannot be ignored. He may have been wrong, but he has a right to hold an opinion without receiving threats. Confronted with rational counter-arguments, he might have changed his mind.
Liverpool’s support is huge and committed. Its online fanbase helped to oust former owners of the club two years ago. Tom Hicks, one of those owners, spoke of “internet terrorists”.
Some clearly feel the need to live up to the billing, but they do their cause a disservice with misguided salvoes, dripping in bile. The energy spent on berating the likes of Davies should instead be focused on flooding the inboxes of politicians with a simple question: why, 23 years on, do we still not know the truth about a police cover-up that reached Cabinet level?
The Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP), chaired by the Right Reverend James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, is managing the release of documents relating to the disaster. It has put off declaring its findings until the autumn. That will be too late for Mr Glover. The real issue for fans this week should have been why the Glover family has been denied access to information about Ian.
HIP says it is vital that all material is realised in context. Yet a number of leaks have proved that it is impossible to manage the flow of information.
Mr Glover has placed a formal request to see the Cabinet minutes relating to Hillsborough. There is no legal reason to prevent this, yet he has been refused. A man who has fought for justice since 1989 will die without seeing the information he craved. Such a decision undermines the moral force of the panel. And it is wrong.
Most of those who abused Alan Davies on Twitter will not even be aware of the Glovers’ plight. They should start to redirect their anger.
This article first appeared in The Times on April 14 2012 and is reproduced here with permission.
What a shame you feel the need to have a go at Liverpool supporters in a National newspaper on the eve of Hillsborough.
You will merely have endorsed the rest of the Nation’s idea that we are ‘self-pity city’.
I actually have a feeling you did not mean it to come across this way, but I am afraid it did!
Given the other more positive comments, perhaps it is you who is missing the point David. Tony is in no way having a go at Liverpool fans! That is, unless you want to class the morons on twitter who threatened to kill Alan Davies as ‘fans’ of the club. Their abuse detracted attention from the cause, which is vital in a plethora of ways. That was made pretty clear in the article. The fact that you have interpreted it as ‘having a go’ is more down to your lack of understanding/ignorance than Tony’s failings as a journalist.
Marvellous piece of writing, woke me up a little. Thanks.
Well said Tony, some Liverpool fans we’re out of order with the abuse and death threats they dished out. They just let themselves down by spouting such bile. I hope the HIP rethinks this appalling decision and allow’s John to see the information which will allow him to RIP when he finally loses his fight with cancer. Very sad if they do not.
Agree with every single word of that. What the hell do cyber threats achieve? Davies retweeted them and not the rational points others made. Why? Because it’s easier to point at them with a ‘See!’ Rather than climbdown over a stronger argument.
Once again it’s about FA misdirection. They should have been the target for his bile but we’re an easier enemy and some people have given them what they wanted. We’re fighting the wrong battle.
It was the same with Suarez, the abuses just let us all down…Davies has previous against us and needed to be put down with articulate responses ridiculing his nasty anti northern snobbery not death threats for gods sake. The RT is more damaging than the original insult.
In other words lay off our ‘showbiz mates. Davies was an absolute tit and brought all he received on his own head. I noted there wasn’t much coming out of TAW on this and know I know why. Don’t even start me on the HIP
It seems to me that too many people want to get angry about anything and everything these days.
Football is a passionate sport and therefore feelings run higher and quicker.
People want a fast reaction and therefore themselves respond before actually thinking.
What Davies said was wrong and the way he said it was clearly out of order, but it is his opinion and he is entitled to it, berating him by calling him a knob or dickhead without telling him why you think he is, isn’t going to change his mind.
It could so easily have been explained to him that as a club, we hold a service each year and that as a fan base we expect our players to be in attendance. The memory of 96 people just like me/us who went to watch their team play footy is far more important to us than a game of footy.
Personally if we were forced to arrange a game that day I’d rather lose the points
Dave Murphy, drakerichards. You are morons.
Timing is bad, but this cannot be said often enough. Everyone on Twitter, Facebook or other social media need to behave themselves in a more respectful manner if they call themselves Liverpool fans. No matter where you live or who you are, if you present yourself as a fan of the club you and everyone of us will be put into the same basket as “those whingeing Liverpool fans (or scousers, even though many of us aren’t)”.
The HJC is a much too serious issue than to be used as a reason to abuse some uninformed idiot on Twitter. Inform them on the issue in a respectful manner even though they don’t deserve it and you’ll do a great service for the families seeking justice.
You’ve got this wrong again.Why shouldn’t Davies be bombarded with vitriol and invective?
Why should these people escape criticism for voicing opinions which have no factual substance?And absolutely no regard for the feelings of people who,even 23 years later,still feel sold down the river!Ignorance is one thing but to voice opinions based on ignorance is breathtaking.
It’s now 23 years and I still feel frustrated and angry about what I witnessed there!
Somebody said to me yesterday “But didn’t the Official Enquiry say that Liverpool fans were drunk and robbing dead fans?”
So the more we castigate these morons,the more we have a chance of making them reconsider their ill -informed opinions!
Yeah just me, Margaret Aspinall and 10000 at Anfield for the Memorial Service think Alan Davies was wrong and deserves all he gets.
He is a Football supporter and knew exactly what he was doing. He is the moron!
Utter rubbish. I saw lots of replys to this muppet which did indeed try to educate him as to Liverpool fans feelings regarding playing on the Anniversary, of course Davies didn’t highlight them only the idiots. Funnily enough exactly like this article.
my post above was intended as a reply to Ste above but did not indent below his post .
Agree with Tony’s general point. Would rather people be given the facts or counterargument then just be subject to streams of bile from internet heroes. It really does us no good if the discussion and debate moves from why what was said was wrong to what’s the latest semi-anonymous abuse delivered via twatter or whatever.
Rory Smith made a good point not too long ago – we need to start channelling some of this passion more positively. The push to get the debate in Parliament and to secure the discussion on new inquests at Westminster Hall are proof of what happens we do this in a positive way.
I agree with Tony that it is totally wrong for people to threaten Davies via twitter or other social media platforms. Davies and others that think like him need educated not threatened. Davies was also wrong to use an article in the Times today to attempt to portray himself as a victim in this sordid affair. He needs to just shut up and learn from his original mistakes in the that horrible podcast.
Another fantastic piece of writing, Tony.