YOU can tell me there are more important issues in football in 2015; that in the grand scheme of things it matters little. You can say it’s harmless, insignificant, a mere side issue when held up alongside things that need tackling with urgency: like spiraling ticket prices for example.
You can tell me that the game has changed. That it’s not the 80s or the 90s. That football culture has moved on, that society is different. You can say all that. But if you say it to me wearing a scarf that is half Liverpool and half Manchester United you won’t be taken seriously for one single second. How can anyone be taken seriously offering opinions on football culture wearing that?
Despite the odd attempts to downplay the game in some parts of the national media last week, a game between Liverpool and Manchester United is one that always matters. One that supporters at either end of that crap motorway everyone likes to reference are desperate to win. It’s never ever a bald man fighting over a comb. It’s never ever meaningless. And it’s the last fixture on earth that should have a half and half scarf made for it. Nobody in the world can seriously support Liverpool AND Manchester United. How can you? It’s a long-standing deeply ingrained rivalry. You’re one or the other. So why choose to carry around a traditional item of support featuring both names and both badges? It’s just downright weird.
Ah, yes, you might say. But it’s just a souvenir. It’s like buying the programme or a pin badge. But it’s not. Not to me. I’m well aware it is just a piece of material but it’s what it represents. When I go to Anfield I want to be surrounded by a baying partisan ballsy crowd — a group of people that wants to urge on Liverpool no matter what, that will shake a fist, scream and shout, appeal, intimidate the referee and show the bastards at the other end of the ground how much we care.
If you’re stood at Anfield with that thing above your head with Manchester United lining up as the opposition, as people were, in a game that despite all the santisation and supposed changes of mindsets remains gloriously hate-filled, passionate and important, then you fundamentally don’t understand what football is about as far as I’m concerned.
Everyone has been banging on about Steven Gerrard’s sending off but there’s no real debate is there? The tackle he threw in was glorious. The stamp that followed was stupid. Why did he do it? Because he was like a coiled spring after watching Liverpool’s hated rivals boss a half at Anfield. He’s a fan as well as a player. A local lad. A man who got a clip from his dad for putting on a United shirt as a kid. He knows how much it means. Is it really too much to ask that people turning up at Anfield for arguably the biggest home game of the season recognise the same? Would Gerrard wear a half and half scarf? Exactly.
I realise here that I may be treading into “proper fan” territory, as detailed by Martin Fitzgerald yesterday. But so be it — no, there aren’t rules, but there is common sense, there is pride and there is an identity and tradition to uphold. The Scousers v Wools debate is not something I’m looking to get into — if you want that it’s on the same old forums in the same old places. The ground contains both. That’s been the case for a very long time and it’s not going to change anytime soon.
I recognise the globalisation of football. I understand people come from all over the world to watch Liverpool. The club has helped to put the city on the map. As I’ve written before, I’m broadly sound with it — you can’t knock the commitment involved for those that truly love the club to follow the team from so far away. There are people who ‘get it’ from all over the world. And there are people who oh so blatantly don’t.
Slap bang among those that fundamentally don’t ‘get it’ are people with those scarves — a product that for grown adults wearing them basically announces them as a consumer of football, not a lover of it; not a supporter in the truest and most traditional sense of the word.
That Liverpool and United are rivals is everywhere. Surely the aggressive marketing that tempts in the experience hunters mentions that? Broadcasters never fail to bring it up. The papers do too. It’s omnipresent, in your face. So again — why would you want to wear something carrying the mark of the rival while standing in The Kop? It can only be that you’re a bucket lister. That you want to go to one of the biggest sporting occasions in the world and say you were there. Fine. But still — why would you want to stand out as someone who couldn’t be arsed to give even a cursory nod towards a long-standing, and at times extremely bitter, rivalry? Would you go to Barca-Real and buy a half and half? The Milan derby? Celtic-Rangers? Liverpool-Everton? Oh…
I’ve got no problem in saying that if a bucket lister with no real interest in Liverpool occupies match-day space at the expense of someone who wants to sing, shout and back the team they love, then that’s a damn shame. I accept it is the reality of the situation. Touts are cashing in on these people. The club is tempting them with ridiculously priced travel packages. Our own fans are flogging seats for games such as these to fleece the clueless and pay for their own tickets for other games. All feed the problem.
I have no solutions — I appreciate the difficulties. I don’t know how you change it, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t a frustrating phenomenon — particularly as so many who live and breathe the game are priced out and will soon be joined by many more as the prices’ continual upward trajectory marches forward on trend.
Thomas Cook — advertising its ‘Official Liverpool FC Match Breaks’ — says this: “The unmistakable sight of Anfield as you emerge through the rows of terraced houses is an amazing spectacle. Once you enter the football stadium you’re presented with a wall of red from the Kop end, which will surely immerse you into the culture and spirit of the prestigious football club.”
Well guess what? The culture and spirit of the prestigious football club has not involved half and half scarves. It’s involved red and white ones. Or scarves with the name Liverpool on. Scarves with the Liverbird on, not a fucking Red Devil. You’ve come to say you were at Liverpool? At Anfield? Get a Liverpool souvenir then. If you want something with that other name on, go there and get it.
The culture and spirit of the prestigious football club has not often featured group selfies being taken on The Kop when Liverpool have a corner on 80-odd minutes against Manchester United. That happened. Right behind me. The songs, the banners — the intense, ear popping, hair-raising support that we have been part of down the years? That wasn’t generated by bucket listers who talk all the way through the game and don’t even know the names of the players performing in front of them. That wasn’t generated by impassively consuming the event before heading off to the next attraction. Wall of red? Not if people keep buying half and halfs it won’t be.
Thomas Cook go on: “The Kop is the most renowned stand at Anfield amongst home and away supporters with the people who occupy the stand referred to as kopites. Traditionally, Liverpool’s most vocal supporters congregate in the stand.”
Traditionally, Liverpool’s most vocal supporters don’t wear half and half scarves. So why wouldn’t long-term fans get angry when they see the Godforsaken items dotted around what was once a well-respected terrace; the envy of clubs up and down the country?
If people want to come to Liverpool and take pictures and spend money — fine. But why can’t they show the culture of the thing they’re desperate to be a part of some respect? Why must we dance around and make excuses for people who are diluting the very thing they have been sold? We’ve always regarded Anfield as special. As different. Shrugging off the symbol of a game lost to money is another step towards the cinema experience — “Sssshhh, the game’s on, pass me my popcorn.”
The 12th man is actively marketed as a Liverpool selling point alongside the wider push for the Premier League as a entertainment product. The 12th man has never donned a half and half. Instead of putting cringe worthy tat under the noses of those descending on L4 why can’t we try to keep Anfield special and different? Why do we have to glibly accept everything on the grounds of it being ‘how it is’?
Football grounds, city centres — they’re all falling into the trap of homogenisation populated by clones. Same songs, same PA-booming pre-match build-up, same shops, same bullshit. Forget the culture, chase the pound. Why can’t we say — why can’t the club say — don’t come here and be neutral, come here and make it special. We want noise and passion. If the idea is to come here to support Liverpool, then do that. Learn a song. Buy a red and white Liverpool scarf. Don’t buy the Sun. Don’t take the piss out of Liverpool the city and Liverpool the people.
And don’t stand in the Liverpool end with a fucking Man United badge hanging around your neck.
Get these people engaged with the culture, don’t just take their money. The message is clear and simple enough: it’s not a game where you shouldn’t care, it’s a game you should be actively involved in.
Football has changed. And many things are shrugged off now as being ‘just part of the game’. But supporters can still influence supporter culture. Supporters can still make a difference.
You can be reductive about anything. It’s only a scarf. It’s only a blue Liverpool kit. It’s only a ridiculous monstrosity of a mascot. What it is, is change. And not change for the better. That’s why people get angry. It’s not a life choice — it’s caring about something you love and being heartbroken by the direction it’s going in.
Half and half scarves represent the dying of the very thing that attracted the money, the TV companies and the wordwide interest — the fan culture. Pride, passion, identity and the tribal joy of following Liverpool Football Club is not represented by an item on your person that bears your rival’s badge. Those that are consumed by everything Liverpool and have helped to make the atmosphere that is so revered — that have helped to make the banners, the flags and the songs — they know that; they wouldn’t be seen dead wearing a half and half scarf.
So what are these ‘grumpy old men’ getting angry at? That. That’s what they are getting angry at.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda & PA Images
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I couldn’t agree more, wearing another clubs badge around your neck is sacrilege in my book, if there are that many “bucket Listers” then perhaps a small section of the ground (say 500 seats) should be sectioned off with keep quiet signs and the seats sold on a special non supporter day trippers website.
Otherwise, buy a ticket, buy an LFC scarf and sing your heart out for “This is Anfield” and by god, shouldn’t everyone know it.
Agree completely. We need to keep going to see Liverpool as special. No half and halfs, no iPads or selfie sticks and for goodness sing YNWA !!
Couldn’t agree more, I wouldn’t use them to wipe my arse. They are a blight on the landscape of football.
Absolutely spot on!! You hear too often now “I prefer the aways” as do I incidentally…that’s not to say the away games don’t have there fair share of ‘whoppers’ but the fact the majority of good match goin reds an I include both local and out OOT reds prefer the aways to watching the reds at Anfield is a sad sad state of affairs.
I’ve been going to Anfield since I was 14 in 1992 and got my education if you like on the Kop…learnt the songs and immersed myself in the match day culture. The flyaway balls an various inflatables thrown round the Kop, every player greeted in the warm up to a song whilst the away team are greeted to “who the fuckin hell are you” not to be mistaken for the generic ‘who are ya’ nowadays your looked at like an alien if you even attempt a song that pre dates 2005…
The club with its bulk members sale hasn’t helped for example for 10 years me an 3 mates have been in 304 with a few others we’ve come to know this season we’ve been in 304, 108, 208, 105 and 203 2 of the games being single seats an not together…For people who go to all 19 home games why can’t they give you priority of where you sit for every game before you start fighting for tickets in a free for all for the hand full or even solitary game goers.
Anfield as we knew it is close to going for good and as much as fans who ‘get it’ want to change it the club need to be on our side and as long as they put the fans money before the fans concerns it’ll become a tide we can’t turn
I broadly agree with all of this. Still Martin Fitzgerald has a point with the anecdote about the Hongkongolese fan that was shouted down for wearing a half and half. In the greatest twat competition, those who verbally attacked the guy are miles in front of any scarf-wearer.
At least for some of the people who are prone to halfscarvery, the rivalry and tribality of fan culture is not as prominent as you make out. These people just like the way footy looks when played well. For some, a trip to Anfield may be the first time the’ve ever gone to a proper football match. Such people should be pitied at worst, not abused.
Absolutely sensational article that mate! I went the game and it just baffled me. Sat in the kop and before the game amongst the hundreds of reds desperate to get in and start cheering on the boys, 4 guys were all too busy trying to get underneath there selfie stick and one was donning said scarf!
I don’t want to come across as somebody that Martin so brilliantly spoke about in his article but there is a line that is most definately crossed, when you are sitting in the Kop wearing anything that includes the name Man United!!
The real issue is why are these scarves for sale, go to anfield, you get a Liverpool one. And you real fans should start a scarf swap service in the mean time, everyone knit a red and white one to donate to these poor half scarf buyers who have been swindled for not knowing any better.
I’ve learned the hard way when I was 10… moved from the states to england and fell in love… went and sat on the kop… wasn’t standing and got slapped on the back of the head and told to get up…
Having said that… I’ve bought half and half scarves, but I do not wear them… they’re more of a collectors item for me… I have my proper liverpool scarf and I wouldn’t wear any other scarf to the pub or anfield…
I must say it is frustrating being an American and trying to garner respect as not being a bucket lister… I’ve put in so much time learning the history, the culture, the songs etc. That its extremely annoying to watch my fellow yanks just not get it….
for me… supporting liverpool just feels natural… the city feels like home… when I go to Anfield it’s not just a fun little thing I did… it’s a religious experience…. As it should be
But unfortunately modern football is a much about the money as it is the game and culture now…
as far as keeping the kop pure… and it pains me to say this… I think they need to make it a season pass only section where you have to show Id matching the pass…. as much as it would pain me to not be able to sit there… I’d rather it maintain is sanctity
So, are you in favour of the half and half scarves or not?
Ha ha ha!
The atmosphere is shit because the ground is full of old codgers that do not participate. Stop blaming the crap people spend money on, and people taking the odd photo. The bulk of the ground is made up from locals, local fucking mutes and old gits moaning all of the time. Let people enter in as groups like before, and you’ll see the atmosphere return.
Great article. I don’t want to speak for all real supporters from America, but I can tell you that this is why I support LFC. It wasn’t because of any of the players, or the history, but because the first time I saw the Kop singing YNWA I immediately knew I wanted to be part of that. Anything that inspired that level of passion and devotion must be incredible. Most real supporters of the club that I know have similar stories.
This is also why it’s bad for the club to let this kind of nonsense proliferate. In the mad dash to grab as many international supporters as possible, like some sort of 21st century sporting imperial land grab, this is Liverpool’s advantage. People who want to support the best players and see constant victory will choose the oil rich teams. People who want the glitz and glamour of London will go with Arsenal. And those with a deep emptiness inside them support ManU. Liverpool attracts new supporters based on their existing ones. Anything that hurts that culture is a threat to the club’s future.
Or, more succintly, all half and half scarves should be put into a giant pile and burned on until they’re ashes. Holding the giant fire in Manchester sounds like a good idea right now.
As an American, I count myself fortunate to have managed to attend even the one match at Anfield (1-1 vs Hearts). I sang the songs I knew (some, but not all). For what it’s worth, I bought a lovely red and gold LFC scarf at the shop.
Just a few months earlier, I had managed a seat at Wembley for the FA Cup final against Chelsea. As it turns out, the only way I could get a ticket was to be seated amongst the blues; no fun that. I bought a commemorative half and half scarf because I knew a FA Cup Final would be a once in a lifetime experience.
I’ve had to get up before dark to watch Liverpool matches; such is the lot of we foreign fans.
I wasn’t born a red; I chose to follow Liverpool in 2006 after my love of footie was stirred by the World Cup. I’m sorry that I don’t live up to your expectations of a supporter, but sorrier still that you feel it necessary to judge me as inferior because I savored a unique experience, or because I happened to choose to follow Liverpool despite having the poor taste to have been born thousands of miles away.
Yeah, I’m the problem.
Haven’t got a problem where you live, mate. Hence why I wrote:
“I recognise the globalisation of football. I understand people come from all over the world to watch Liverpool. The club has helped to put the city on the map. As I’ve written before, I’m broadly sound with it — you can’t knock the commitment involved for those that truly love the club to follow the team from so far away. There are people who ‘get it’ from all over the world.”
If you go to the ground, you’d better bloody sing. That should be part of the contract. 100% supporter, 0% tourist.
Get involved. Football is not a spectator sport.
It seems pretty obvious to me, and I’m American. Would I wear anything with a Lakers logo on it? FUCK NO.
While I agree with you on this the point that no one seems to make is.
Who is making and selling these scarves? Locals? The club?
So if a day tripper comes in from China or were ever and sees this stuff available to buy. It’s an option , but the club and individuals trying to make a quid out of the tourists
If they are not available to buy the issue goes away.
It’s a similar issue to tickets. The club hospitality and travel packages and the season ticket holder selling his ticket for inflated prices. Are you still a “real fan” of you give up a ticket for a game of this magnitude for 300 quid?
I liked Martins article, loads of valid points.
But…..it shouldn’t matter where you come from, you dont go on the Kop with a (half) Man Utd scarf.
It’s beyond stating the obvious. It’s ridiculous we are even debating it.
If I’m lucky enough to ever get to take my kids to the Nou Camp to watch El Classico, we won’t be wearing (half) Madrid scarves. We’ll take photos, coz I like memories and quite like my kids, my arm is long enough to get us all in.
Spot on mate. All too often when I go to anfield, surrounded by people who contribute absolutely fuck all to the atmosphere!
One game recently I was sat in any road and had 2 women in front of me who had brought cushions to sit on!! They spent most of their time on their phones. Felt like wringing their necks to be honest!
Yet again another boss article, just when I begin to think modern fan culture is dying a slow and painful death, an article like this comes along and stirs up hope that it can be salvaged.
Do SOS or RTK still be have much input regarding this? It’s vital for me, it needs saving and there’s no time like the present. I ask this though as I’ll concede I’m ignorant about this.
Ironically the common selling point, the historic, loud, witty (insert any commonly used adjectives here) and above all, DIFFERENT Anfield crowd is in grave danger of disappearing completely through this aggressive selling of our club to those who simply don’t, as is often the best way to put it, “get it”.
I doubt this is anywhere in the top 20 issues on the club’s agenda but it should be, instead of scouring the world looking for an Official Toilet Roll Supplier it is these kind of issues that need addressing.
The pessimist in me, judging from what I’ve already seen over two decades now, feels that’s it’s already disappeared. I sincerely hope I’m proved wrong.
Half and Half scarves should not be sold or bought , all agreed!
But the fume seems to be aimed at the naive and innocent who invest time and money to get to a game, at huge commitment and expense who yes, don’t get it, don’t care as much as we do , don’t feel sick in their stomachs when we lose. They have seen it all from afar and are attracted to our club for whatever reason and are trying to be part of it . Should they be welcomed , spoke to and “educated” in the ways during a friendly conversation ? Or sneered at , picked on and called a twat?
Is this worse than this profile of fan.
Main stand fan A 54yrs old from scotty rd who doesn’t sing , goes every game , gets on players backs early and doesn’t think anyone should be on 150k a week nevermind a 20yr old kid.
He gets off 5-10 mins early cos he doesn’t want to queue for a bus or a pint.
Or the fan who sings you’re not singing any more at the Turks great support?
Which one is causing most damage to the atmosphere in the ground ? The notion of the twelfth Man?
I know what boils my piss more and the half & half selfie taking gormless smiling day tripping fan is the lowest down the list of the three above.
Great article. Never understood why anyone would want a half and half OR why anyone would want to swap their scarf. What’s that about?
Slightly off the wall, but how about making the whole ground unticketed? That would mean anyone really wanting to be there would queue (remember those days?). That would get rid of a fair proportion of the whoppers and Thomas Cook’ers.
Just a thought like…..probably wouldn’t work.
Agree on the scarves. Burn all half & half scarves.
About taking pictures though. I am a fan based abroad who gets to go to Anfield on average once/twice a season. Is it alright to take maybe one picture as long as I do it with subtlety? I would never be someone who takes loads of pictures, or worse still videos, and annoys the shite out of others around me, but I am just thinking people taking the odd pic of Anfield in its glory isn’t the worst thing? Absolutely no selfies of course.
Maybe one is not acceptable?! know from going to music gigs how unbelievably annoying it is to have people talking pictures and videos they probably will never use again whilst blocking the view of others. This is an issue for performers as well many of whom publically denounce camera activity at gigs. So yes, put the phones away right?
The first half-and-half scarves I ever saw were at Anfield in March 1992 for the UEFA second leg against Genoa. I thought they were great. We all coveted European club gear and this was before the internet and the ability to buy a Honved 3rd kit with a few keystrokes.
The novelty wore off pretty quickly, though, and h-and-h scarves seemed to disappear for a while before making a comeback in the 2000s. I can still see the vague attraction for kids when we play a European team, but why you’d want a h-and-h for a domestic rival is beyond me.
“I’ve got no problem in saying that if a bucket lister with no real interest in Liverpool occupies match-day space at the expense of someone who wants to sing, shout and back the team they love, then that’s a damn shame.” Really, you think people that come from all over the world has no real interest in the club??? why would they travel half-way around the world for it. Take me for example, a kid who saw Micheal Owen set the world on fire at the 1998 world cup, whose dad bought him a Liverpool kit, then managed to get a copy of Walk Alone – the Craig Johnston Story, then Harry Kewell came to the club and well you get it, I live in Australia and this has been my club since then, since I was 8. So when I pay a significant amount of money to come over and see one game, one solitary game, why does it bother you that much I bought a half & half scarf, I didn’t wear it to the match, I bought as a souvenir, to hang on my wall when I get home. As for singing, shouting and screaming for the team, not all people express their emotions that way, I for one have anxiety issues. Actually I bet if most “bucket listers” if they sang or shouted, there’d by mummers and whispers around like “who this fella with a weird accent who thinks he knows about my team etc.”. Just because you sing doesn’t make you anymore of a supporter than someone who doesn’t, just because you’re a season ticket holder doesn’t make you any more of a fan than some who travels halfway around the world for 1 match in their lifetime. Oh btw I paid 50 something quid ($100+ aus dollars) for a seat in the main stand cause that’s all I could get, against hull and that was a sad boring game. and imagine my surprise when season ticket holders around who id been talking to start to leave at 85. stop taking this for granted, you don’t have anymore of a right to be there just because you live there, as far as I’m concerned it’s a privilege to go to Anfield.
Shite, just a bit of a rant ;)
Yes, Jack, really. Because I’ve witnessed it first hand. The people behind me on Sunday didn’t know who the players were. They knocked into me taking a group selfie on 80-odd minutes when Liverpool had a corner at 2-1 against our arch rivals. They talked all the way through, and not about the footie. It was just to tick a box not to support the team.
The rest? Sound. I’ve explained above I’ve no problem with people who genuinely support the team going and I’ve been to Australia and witnessed how passionate the Reds there are about the club.
And I don’t take it for granted — I waited for 16 years on the waiting list to get a season ticket in my own name. Now I’m worried how much longer I’ll be able to afford to keep it. Why would I take it for granted, and why assume I do?
Spot on. You’re only able to support one club and thank the good Lord it’s Liverpool. Heaven forbid anybody in my house would wear one if those hideous nonsensical pieces of garbage. And if it’s anything to do with the crowd down the road it’s not even fit for picking get up the dog pooh. Sorry for being so blunt but this type of thing just puts the blood pressure through the roof and I don’t like that shower of mouthpieces that either at with or support Man Utd.
Totally agree Gareth…living in Spain I watch live games in the pub and my blood boils when not only does the away crowd drown out the Liverpool fans but it appears half the home crowd are wearing away scarfs, wtf it’s embarrassing! Keep ranting mate the only acceptable half & half is cider and lager!
I’d say that black and tan is the only acceptable half and half, but I have been known to down a chelada or two when it’s hot out…
Ultimately, it’s worth saying that the club themselves don’t sell the half-and-half scarves (why the fuck would they?) – they’re completely privately-run, and as long as they’re not being sold on club premises the club can’t actually do anything about it legally (since the scarf makers are savvy enough to not print actual club logos etc). I agree that half-and-half scarves are a nonsense – but truth be told unless the Premier League (or a group of clubs) lobbied for some sort of legislation on it, the sale of them isn’t going to change.
What needs to happen is those who do buy these scarves – admittedly overwhelmingly not from England – need to be explained to why people in this country (it’s hardly a Scouse thing, is it?) feel so strongly about half-and-halves. Tell them it’s fine if they want a souvenir, but to get one from the HJC shop or club shop. Educate, not discriminate.
I’m not from Liverpool nor am I British, but since moving to England four years ago have been to games when I’ve been able to (I must have done at least 20 now) and have always been treated the right way and never abused for not being from here – that’s a credit to the club and indeed the fans. I like to think I ‘get it’ – I’ve supported the club on TV thousands of miles away since 1998 (and woke up at 2:30 am as a schoolkid in 2005 to watch the Final), have never read the S*n, never bought or worn a half-and-half scarf, and now live in this beautiful city. I always go in the Kop when I can, and I always sing – I do get the odd look now and then but I don’t care, I’m at Anfield to support the club and I’ll sing even if I stand out. I know the OP isn’t directed at people like me but judging from the comments on both this and MF’s post yesterday there are still “fans” who would like to class people like me as scum of the earth. I can assure you that I – and many international fans – are very much not.
Also – obvs no one likes being a grass and it’s not the done thing – but if selfie sticks piss anyone off, they’re officially banned at Anfield, so tell the group to put it away or let a steward know if you’re really, really bothered. Don’t just wait till the end of the game to rant about it online.
I went to the Liverpool match in Chicago, IL in the United States over the summer and at the official Liverpool traveling shop I purchased a scarf because I had left mine at home only to get to my seat and realize the club had made it a damned half Reds half Olympiakos scar. Olympiakos! Like I went all the way to Chicago to see them.
It’s not even just at Anfield. Ban the damned things from every ground in the world.
Most of u lot don’t realise it’s an avent of 2 great teams coming together u don’t have to buy one,just stick to ur official £80 polyester shirt that’s made in China with advertising all over it,mugs!!!.