AMID the joy of what we witnessed at Anfield on Tuesday evening, there is sadness that one of our own lies critically ill in hospital following an unprovoked attack just yards from The Kop.
Sean Cox, a dad of three, did nothing other than what we have all done so many times – head out the door for a football match to cheer on our team, have a laugh with mates and hope to witness something special on the pitch.
Instead, he was on the end of an indiscriminate attack carried out in broad daylight on a road well trodden by thousands.
Sean is a husband, a dad, a friend, a son, an uncle, a brother — for those close to him there is now an agonising wait. Praying for news. Hoping for progress. Riddled with anxiety and worry about the man they know and love.
It’s an incident that you would expect to send shivers down the spine of any football fan. It has for me. The reporting of the incident is clear as it was witnessed by journalists. It isn’t a skirmish, a scuffle, an argument, a clash, or any other form of tabloid terminology.
It was an attack. It so easily could have been you, me, my friends, your friends.
Next week, 5,000 Liverpool fans will travel to Rome. For some it will be their first big European trip — a moment to look forward to, a chance to taste what it is like to travel abroad with mates and support Liverpool.
Now there is a cloud that hangs over it.
This morning someone who can be loosely described as “a journalist”, Colin Mafham, writing for the Daily Express website, decided the time was right to tar the name of the thousands that support our club.
Further, a sub editor somewhere decided it was a good idea to publish it.
In the second half of the “column”, Colin describes himself as a Sunderland supporter. Yet at no point in an ill-considered, bigoted rant does he consider those who just follow a football team.
Instead he links Heysel to Hillsborough, loosely talking about responsibilities as though the incidents are in any way similar.
Instead he talks of attacks on the Roma bus that didn’t take place.
And worst of all, on the website of a national newspaper, he is happy to ask the following question, having placed it in the context of the above: “Why is a 53-year-old man now seemingly fighting for his life, and two Italians being held on suspicion of attempted murder, before a football match involving Liverpool?”
What is being inferred is very clear. That an innocent man attacked indiscriminately has somehow brought it on himself. That he is responsible. That we are responsible. That this is Liverpool’s fault.
He goes on: “How on earth are their fans always seemingly involved in such horrific altercations on big European nights?”
If you were to list every European tie Liverpool have played in since the turn of the century you could detail incidents of trouble over a near 20-year period. But how many people are involved? How many people are perfectly well behaved? And how many matches passed off without “horrific altercations”?
It doesn’t really seem to concern an author who is happy to publicly ponder: “Why does trouble seem to follow them like bees round a honey pot?”
Tarring the reputation of huge groups of people is not something new to Liverpool, as a city or a club. It happens to football fans in general, too.
The story of Hillsborough, and the battle for the truth to be recognised — alongside justice being done — is packed with tales of lies, screaming headlines, hyperbole, and cheap attempts to blacken the name of normal people dressed up as “opinion” or “analysis”, even “the truth”.
And here we are again.
“No one is suggesting that the violence that erupted on Tuesday night was solely the fault of Liverpool fans,” writes Colin.
“But there are suggestions that the reputation of Liverpool supporters had gone before them and Roman yobs had simply decided to get in first, and with such awful consequences. It’s not right, but it does again highlight a common denominator.”
Suggestions from who, I wonder? I could suggest that Colin has made something up to fit a skewed narrative. “From some” is from no one. So there’s no comeback. I could suggest that Colin wants clicks for his article. That Colin knows there are people who love conflict, love stereotypes and love to sneer at Scousers, Liverpool, football fans, and no doubt many other sections of society deemed worthy of a spot of defaming.
Colin has recognised in the sneering songs that tumble from terraces that we’re “always the victims” and that “it’s never our fault” and he is feeding the fallacy. He even counteracts arguments — quoting them no less — that have never been made and don’t actually exist.
He writes: “That’s why I urge Liverpool Football Club to condemn, rather than giving succour to excuses like ‘it’s society’s problem’ and ‘all the world’s against us’.”
Who has said “it’s society’s problem”? Who has said “all the world’s against us”?
Is Colin saying we’re always the victim and it’s never our fault?
The stereotypes, the baiting and the bashing are nothing new, and merely a step back in time for many of us. But it’s the timing of it, and the framing of it, that bites the most.
Just like all those years ago, when Kelvin MacKenzie and his like gave no thought to the families who had lost loved ones at Hillsborough, to the survivors who were being told they were complicit in the deaths of their fellow fans, Colin Mafham has given no thought to the family and friends of Sean Cox.
As they wait, and pray, and hope for good news, there is a writer happy to put the boot in. To use an incident that has left a man in a critical condition as a springboard to criticise the club he supports and the fans he mixes with.
As supposed journalism goes, it’s the lowest of the low. The article was edited and then later removed from the website, with no statement or apology.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that the writer is a former night editor of The Sun. Peddling hate then, doing the same now.
For a man who loves a question, here’s one for him: Why do you do it?
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
Like The Anfield Wrap on Facebook
One of the very best and vitally important pieces I’ve read from Gareth – an excellent response to the Express article. Thank you Robbo for again providing balance to an incredible poor and misguided piece of journalism.
This is an exceptionally well written piece, Robbo.
How you managed to stay restrained and lay out the facts in a clear and concise manner demonstrates a real professionalism (not sure I could have had the same restraint). The article is unacceptable. Period. The facts are there for all to see. Well done TAW on being the superior platform. This fucking rag needs to get the same treatment as that other one.
Good article Gareth, well written and lots of restraint shown. I was also impressed with the article in the Liverpool Echo. Both of these article will have done a lot to dispel so many false statements in the article that this Colin Mafham has written. Colin Mafham’s article is beyond being crass and shockingly poor, it is again an agenda and one aimed once more at defamation (I am certain an act came out in 2013 about all this Colin, perhaps you should read its contents).
I am still angry on so many levels from this jumble of words, printed by the Daily Express that I have to say must have been written by some bitter fool who has lost the plot. This lazy, clueless journo asks (or is it demands) for Liverpool Football Club to condemn us based on nothing more than his own opinions, as nearly all of what he puts is wrong. Even to quote Hillsborough when all reports state that Liverpool supporters are NOT TO BLAME is again showing what he believes regardless of the truth. Dangerous man, with a dangerous agenda.
So seeing as Colin is quick to ask for condemnation, I ask for similar and yes I too ask for it from Liverpool Football Club and our owners, to condemn this fool and likewise the Daily Express for publishing this article. Likewise I would like the Daily Express to publicly condemn the idiot and those who allowed this to be published.
Imagined if we wrongly stereotyped all Mackems based on the actions of one recent footballer to play for them; well this would be on a par with what this idiot has tried and done.
I am still incensed even about him going on about Heysel without even knowing the full facts… and for the record Colin, a host of English and Scottish Clubs and the National team supporters had been on the rampage for decades across the continent all before Heysel and this was taken into consideration when banning all English Clubs, so not just Liverpool FC and European nights, who until Heysel we (Liverpool) had an unblemished record. – So what is it with lazy journos and actually getting facts right??? That should have been your article and headline statement, Colin!!!.
BTW Colin why state Roman yobs in your report, are you now just stereotyping all people from Rome? Do you actually know the full addresses of those involved in the attack to be sure that is where they are from? Are you also having a dig at Lazio supporters as well? – Just trying to clarify as you are so generic and tenuous and even fictitious with the rubbish you wrote.
Finally my thoughts go to Sean Cox and his family and friends. lets hope he makes a full recovery from an unprovoked and what appear to be premeditated attack on any Liverpool supporters regardless of randomness of Sean being the victim that was done by so called Roma supporters who have attacked Liverpool Supporters on numerous occasion, such as 1984… I was there on that occasion (as well as Heysel in 1985) and I would like to ask Colin, was this again Roma fans just getting in their first?
The Organisation Stop Funding Hate has been protesting the Rag Daily Express for several years over racist story’s and comments. They pressure the rags main Advertisers who appear to be the Co-op and Specsavers.
Maybe a post on their accounts might help, I have emailed both companies CEO’s over this.
What a despicable and horrific way to create an agenda against Liverpool off the back of a victim who is fighting for his life as we speak. This Colin fella must hang his head in shame!
What is the world coming to? Honestly!
Come on, Sean Cox! You will survive! The Reds are behind you!
Well said Gareth. All of it excellent, and that last sentence especially.
Good points Robbo. Let’s not forget, though, who now owns the Express – Trinity Mirror (soon to be renamed Reach), owners of the Mirror titles, a majority of regionals across the country, and, of course, the Liverpool Echo. Be interesting to see the latter’s response.
To be fair the Echo’s response that i read earlier echoed that of Gareth’s.
The Echo’s David Prentice wrote a good article in rebuttal to Mafhams.
A superbly written article. My Year 6’s if I showed them this could read between the lines that the express writer is trying to infer something that isn’t there. The father attacked went to watch the footy and 53,000 people were in the ground. A cowardly attacked when there’s no one to pick on- nobody was looking for aggro, just singing and anticipating a great night. I wonder why the express edited and took article down- in the wrong?
Sean Cox is from a town about 10 mins away from my own. I was discussing the attack on a whatsapp group with other from the same town. One guy (a Chelsea fan) immediately piped up blaming heysel 1st, then Liverpool fans on the night for the attack.
This guy is in his late 30s, easily knows people who are friends with Mr Cox yet was happy to use this attack as some sort of point scoring against Liverpool. Never mind the fact that Chelsea fans themselves were attacked this season before their own champions league game in rome.
Its frustrating and infuriating that morons like this are still peddling this fucking bullshit. Even more so to think that this isn’t confined to hack journalists looking for clicks.
Apologies for the rant. Cheers Gareth for the excellent article. A lot more articulate and measured than my response yesterday.
I wouldn’t say apologies are needed mate.
The fact is the ignorance of the wider public regarding Heysel and Hillsborough (even after the longest and perhaps high profile inquest British legal history) is simply staggering.
I read comments on Instagram, some are clearly aiming for a bite, just a bunch of bored virgins looking for kicks. Others are simply clueless, spouting the same ignorant widespread shite that seems to stick within the wider population, regardless of evidence and facts. Some of them believe this attack is karma for Heysel.
I think it is wilful, rather than a genuine lack of knowledge/access to the facts. People (I use the term loosely in lieu of another one, starting with ‘c’ and ending in ‘unts’) choose to lead with their deeply held prejudices despite a mountain of evidence suggesting that they are wrong. I doubt whether is anything anyone could say to change their minds.
This is the best Talking Reds ever lads, BTW
I wouldn’t regard that as journalism, for want of a better word it’s trolling.
Well said Gareth – you said you were going to read it thoroughly and take it in and write a piece.
What a piece and the last sentence is right; although I doubt you’re going to get a reply?!
All we hope for now is a speedy and full recovery for Sean Cox and to be run tied with his family, friends and all who know him.
Superb response. The rag has now apologised and suspended the odious tw*t., in part to magnificent writing such as this. Thanks mate.
Well in Robbo! This type of journalism has become tiresome and boring and screams of absolute laziness just to get a few more clicks.
But if we don’t call these lazy stereotyping so called journalists on these absolute nonsense pieces that somehow making through publishing they will continue to feed these lies to the public.
So well done Robbo and all you guys for getting on this and was glad to see the article pulled but would expect to see an apology for this but not going to hold my breath for that!
Evening lad’s just wanted to say that you are Very highly appreciated as Top Talking RED’S. I had just come out the park at 7:20 before going into ground but for first time ever went in earlier than normal. Once home and finding out about what happened to Mr Cox I just broke down as like you said could have been any of us. I have never changed my routine when at the game since I was 8 years old standing in line for the Kop whilst my uncle went the park. So to always carry that on to this day when at the match. It was heartbreaking when seeing the video of what’s happened knowing I was so close and after today’s report,TOGETHER WE STAND WITH MR COX FAMILY IN THIS. MY DEEPEST THOUGHT’S AND PRAYERS GO TO HIM TO MAKE A SPEEDY RECOVERY.
It’s shaken me to my core and not ashamed to say has really upset me to the point of tears , the ignorance of the article we can deal with but lies and propaganda is bullshit . MR COX is one of our own GET WELL SOON RED MAN XX
Id like to say on the behalf of sunderland fans that this guy is an utter wanker. And to be honest shouldnt be making his living in sports journalism. The Daily express are equally as culpable for allowing it to see the light of day. Disgusting
On a very different note…Paul Cope’s a FUCKING LEGEND EVERY LIVERPOOL FAN / FOLLOWER AS THE DIFFERENCE IS HUGE SHOULD MEET YOU MATE AND LEARN HOW TO (pardon the pun) COPE, WITH HOW GOOD WE ARE. I am fully with you BLUE’S SHOULD WRITE RED’S NEWS COZY WE ARE OUT GETTING PISSED AND CELEBRATIONS SHOULD BE DRAGGED OUT TILL EVERY NEXT GAME. THIS IS OFF THE SCALE AND WE ARE THE BEST TEAM IN EUROPE NOW WE CAN AND SHOULD ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF IT BECAUSE IT DON’T HAPPEN LIKE THIS EVER. WE ARE LIVERPOOL FC FAMILY……TOP TOP SHOW AGAIN #BOSS THAT LAD’S
Superb writing Robbo. Laughable this sort of crap makes it to print in 2018
Well said Gareth. Brilliant response to a disgraceful piece of defamatory bile from the absolute pits of click bait, talk sport, antagonistic, stereotype ‘journalism’.
Yet again I’m left wondering why the general publics standards have stooped so low as for this type of thing to get any form of audience other than in that pathetic individuals head. If it wasn’t for the idiots with those opinions there would be no cause to fuel them, which is probably the saddest part, that so many exist and wish to pedal this stuff.
I’m hoping Sean makes a full recovery, writing like this is exactly what is needed to oppose such abhorrent nonsense around such an awful event.
Keep up the good work Gareth. Proud for you to speak for me as a Liverpool fan.
I think this should be something for the press complaints commission. This is propagating misinformation and should not be tolerated.
Excellent response to this clickbait dog-whistle nonsense. One of the most infuriating aspects of articles like Mafham’s is how insidious it is. You feel you can’t let it go unchallenged, as that legitimises it or suggests acceptance/agreement, but challenging it allows him and similar trolls to claim vindication and hold this up as more proof of us whinging, refusing to accept blame, wallowing in self-pity, etc.
But on this occasion, Sean Cox IS a victim (and by extension so are the wider Liverpool fanbase on a much, much less serious level) and, guess what? This isn’t our fault!
I would just point out that Mafham did work for the S*n but he did not work as a Night Editor. He has never been anything more than a jobbing journalist. There have been excellent responses from Mayor Joe Anderson and the Liverpool Echo. The writer of the main piece, Dave Prentice, is actually an Everton supporter as I understand but has completely dissected Mafham’s piece in an excellent article. It is a superb response. Well done Echo.
This article claims he was night editor: https://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2007/news/new-weekly-to-launch-in-reverse-publishing-project/
So any one want to talk about the guy with the hammer in his hand? I haven’t seen that at many grounds across Europe/UK in 40 years. Cursory glance at BBC video indicates he is way most likely from Liverpool than Rome in the way he dresses. Moreover he is apart from Roma fans and also with Liverpool fans. I know it’s inconvenient but you simply do not address it and makes you look dishonest. Praying for Sean Cox. He doesn’t deserve attack from Roma dicks nor a culture of hypocrisy or deliberate ignorance from the club he loves. BTW: if you don’t publish this reasoned and well intentioned mail, I will follow up in other media. Guaranteed! SD
Hi Sean, not sure what the threat is here. “Follow up in other media” all you like. Fill your boots. See how you get on. I think you’ll find most will react in a similar way to how I just have upon reading this. A “cursory glance” makes you Sherlock Holmes does it? What am I not addressing? Your theory regarding the man wielding a hammer being “way most likely from Liverpool”? I’m more minded to take in the accounts of the journalists who witnessed what happened and described it as an attack: https://twitter.com/bbcsport_david/status/988868842838511616 No idea what the “culture of hypocrisy” or “deliberate ignorance” relates to either.
Way he dresses? Behave you blert.
Their fans who were attacking were dressed similarly to English supporters, as well as supporters from other countries. It’s football culture, and dress sense is a massive part of that, especially in today’s age when what’s fashionable and is not limited to one place. You’re basing this on a pair of black (what looks like) Adidas ZX Flux (I like my trabs) trainers in that hammer picture? They can be purchased almost anywhere in the world, definitely not limited to Liverpool.
No shit Sherlock? You deduced all this from a pic of the guy from the waist down. Clearly a product of the S*# school for journalists.
Others have said all that needs to be said (and in a far more educated way than I can convey). So I’ll just say this:
Well Sean you have just proven one thing only, that you couldn’t detect shit if you shat your own pants. Perhaps if you attended games, especially those on the Continent, you would have noticed that (and I hate the use of this word) the so called Ultras dress this way and always cover their faces and show no colours. This was Liverpool at home on a European night and our supporters are covered in our colours.
Yet another who appears to be trolling and looking for attention, even bad attention.
I read that article earlier today and it upset me so much and I had as much contempt for him as I did the Roma rat who had attacked my innocent fellow fan.
I was so upset.
I was in Rome in 84. I was at Hysel and Hillsborough. I was just around the corner from that cowardly attack on Tuesday and I shall be in Rome for the fourth time to support my team next week.
You put him right with nothing but the truth.
Excellent well written piece. Maybe the Express could employ you to show some journalistic integrity? Ironically it was Sunderland supporters that have stopped my daughter from wanting to go any more matches. I took her to her first game a few years ago unfortunately at the visitors end of the main stand. My mistake probably, but the vileness of a few dickheads (obviously not all) ensured my girl has been put off footie for life.
I’m mildly amazed that anyone reads that shite.
Well done Gareth. You played your part and should hold your head that little bit higher than you already do.
An apology issued by the express today means nothing. Theyre just panicking. They know we’ve boycotted one national newspaper for the last 29 years. We can easily boycott another one.
Great article robo, but it’s not the express , I read an article yesterday , from Italian press , which claimed , that italian police are saying 1000 of Liverpool’s 5000 away fans going to Roma are dangerous troublemakers and they are therefore putting in extra police for this reason , this is an outrageous and worrying article , which shouldn’t allowed to be put out there without some sort of response ! Yet again Liverpool fans are being portrayed by the press as hooligans basically .I have emailed the article to the [email protected] email address , as it’s so offensive .
The stereotype of the football hooligan is 30 years out of date in top flight English football. The fact that pockets of Russian and Italian fans want to ressurect this long dead culture is an overseas anomaly. It is not in our hands to deal with it, but fat chance the tories will bring it up state to state. We go there next week, (and god forbid any boisterous singing happens near their ultras or police) but then soon after, folks from all over will descent on Russia for the world cup. Both Rome and Russia will need to grasp the notion of fans having a good time not being a mob about to surge, and that the violence is one sided except as an act of defence.
What mindset do you have to have in order to blame the victim. Mr Cox is the victim. Look it up in any dictionary. He wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time, he was exactly where he should have been, can’t think how he could have been anymore than what he is, a victim who deserves all our support. I sit on the Kop and this season at ‘big’ games the kop end is swarming with police, some armed, and sniffer dogs, where where they on Tuesday night. Rome is a great city, the people are lovely, but like all big cities there will be the mindless few. Take care on Wednesday, stay together and look after each other….and bring the right result back home.
Great article from Gareth. I’ve written to express to demand an apology via Facebook- won’t hold my breath
Superb article Gareth
(Liverpool based WHU fan)
Great article Gareth,I very rarely read these comments/articles but yours struck home.
Being there on Tuesday with my 14 year old son & witnessing the goings on outside the kop.
It could have been anyone those thugs targeted,they had one thing on there mind & that was to cause damage or injure someone.
There was no provocation they wanted to hurt someone.
Firstly Let’s hope Sean makes a full recovery .
We know who we are and we are proud to be part of a great club in a great city.
I am a Sunderland supporter, a journalist and I have the misfortune to bear the name Colin. I wholeheartedly endorse all that was said in the above piece. Rotten journalism, a rotten reflection on SAFC supporters. He’d better not ask for space at salutsunderland.com – I’m choosy about who writes for it. Thoughts otherwise solely with the victim of this attack and his loved ones.
Have any of you actually read the article? Seriously?? Read it again… Stereotypes exist for a reason, you have just all proved that!