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To the Manchester United Fans....
uploaded : Saturday 20th Aug 2005 at 03:36
by : Carol Gould
Editor's Note on 5 November 2005:
One of the many angry refrains hurled at us by Manchester United fans is that they are amongst the best-behaved fans in the Uk and that 'hooligan' and 'Man United' do not go together.
Please look at the new 'league table of hooliganism' that has just been released by the British police authorities. It speaks for itself.
Editor's Note on 21 August 2005: Since July 7th cricket has seen an astonishing uptrun in popularity across Britain, and there are now no tickets to be had for the rest of the Test season. My theory? After the raw violence and searing public discourse after the London bombs, this gentle and immensely civilised sport has captured the imaginations and souls of a bruised nation. The last thing many of us want to watch right now is angry, shirtless soccer fans venting their bile in one direction or the other. Having been cricket-mad myself -- a rare thing for a Yank -- for three decades, here is a delightful article link:
To the Manchester United Fans...
I feel really bruised and battered. This is particularly hard because I am already disabled and walk with a stick.
This week an article I penned some time ago about the reaction of Manchester United fans to the acquisition of the legendary soccer team by American tycoon Malcolm Glazer seems to have been resurrected amongst Man U club fans.
In order to diffuse what seems to be an unbelievable amount of anger and hurt I seem to have caused, I would like to offer an apology to the fans, even those who have sent me less-than-polite messages and who have threatened me with all manner of punishments.
Fans have accused me of being ?ignorant?;? of ?knowing nothing about soccer and about British culture;? of being a ?paranoid hysteric? and of being anti-British because I reminded Mancunians that American servicemen did step in to try and help save Britain from Hitler. (This was interpreted by letter-writers as a total rejection and denigration of British servicemen?s contribution to the war effort.)
What is most important at this time is to point out that last week, an incisive and well-researched documentary on Malcolm Glazer( and I , having been trained in documentary filmmaking by the late great legendary Edgar Anstey of the John Grierson-Basil Wright organisation can vouch for British documentary being the best in the world) was aired by ITN on the ?Tonight with Trevor McDonald? show. The programme endeavoured to expose Malcolm Glazer as a thoroughly disreputable scoundrel who fleeced his sisters out of their father?s estate and who charged his trailer-park tenants extra for acquiring a cat or having a baby. The film reported on appalling business practices, and every person interviewed seemed to indicate that Manchester United had signed its own death warrant by allowing Glazer anywhere near its enterprise, let alone allowing him to buy the club.
Journalists should never become the news, but I feel compelled to reply to the many Mancunians who have sent me irate letters. Having lived in the UK for thirty years and being particularly proud of my own achievements at Anglia TV Drama, where I chose and commissioned some of this country?s finest plays and series over many years, I reject the accusations of ignorance of British culture and history. Having driven my friends in the UK mad with my obsessive love of all manner of sport, I reject the idea that I should not write about soccer. My late mother was mad about sport, and I make a joke that I also became so because she was glued to the World Series when I was about to pop out of her womb.
Paranoid? Over thirty years I have taken on the chin a fair amount of shocking abuse that has always been very specifically about f-ing Yids , f-ing Israel and f-ing Yanks.
Let us take, for example, the treatment meted out to former US Ambassador to the Court of St James Philip Lader on ?Question Time? on September 13, 2001, two days after the World Trade-Pentagon attacks. The BBC audience, not especially discouraged by host David Dimbleby, stomped and otherwise disrupted the panel and made Mr Lader feel especially unwelcome, if not homicidally hated. It is said he burst into tears after the broadcast. It is also said the BBC had to apologise.
On countless occasions over the decades, but most particularly since 9/11, I have been at the receiving end of some appalling verbal abuse that at times has scared me to death, when all I have done is get into a cab, go into a corner shop or talk to a bus conductor. When a former neighbour who is in the US Navy Reserve came over to London after 9/11, she said the shocked Americans based in Grosvenor Square had been allowed to wear civvies because the US uniform had provoked such violent verbal abuse from local shopkeepers in central London and environs that these otherwise tough servicepeople feared for their lives. On September 12, 2001 I was subjected to what seemed like an interminable tirade from a London cabbie about the 'yellow' Yanks, how in the two world wars the American servicemen were always the first to get cold feet and that the airline pilots and passengers on 9/11 did the same. I cannot conceive, in the wildest stretches of my imagination, an American cabbie subjecting a Briton to such a hurtful tirade after a tragedy on the UK homeland.
The encyclopaedia of appalling experiences had by many Americans in the UK over the years could go on and on, but suffice it to say that my piece about the Manchester United fans? shouting ?Die! Die! to Glazer's American sons at Old Trafford, (they had to be escorted out of the stadium in an armoured van) and the burning of effigies of him may have been spurred by my own feelings of persecution.
The original article that caused so much ire was inspired when a neighbour of mine, a Canadian resident in the Uk for some forty years, rang me and said, ?Are you watching this?? and I proceeded to turn on the TV to see crowds of grown men putting up images of Glazer with bullseyes. My neighbour said ?This is because he is Jewish and American.?
Scores of Manchester United fans have written to say their loathing of Glazer has nothing to do with his religion or nationality. I accept this. The ITV programme suggested he is a loathsome goniff (Yiddish for crook.)
However, it would have been sensible if Man United, Old Trafford Ltd and the fans had stopped him long ago and if the Department of Trade had intervened when it had become clear he was setting the team?s assets against his borrowing. Perhaps laws need to be passed with urgency to stop foreign entities saddling their debts against British assets.
I would love to meet the men who have written me, and make peace in person, if they can put up with my hobbling on a stick.
Editor's Note 22 August 2005:
I went out lastnight and a total stranger sitting next to me, a very elegant Englishwoman and I got into a discussion about the ITV docu about Glazer. She said, and I quote, "The fans' behaviour is because he is Jewish and American. This country's hatred of Americans is out of hand.'
Notwithstanding this comment, which has been said to me over and over again for the past several months by everyone who mentions the Glazer takeover in conversation, I apoligise to Manchester United and its fans for suggesting that the anger at Glazer is because he is Jewish and American.
Addendum 22 August 2005:
A few more messages have come in since I penned this article. One suggested that Jews only get upset when one of their own is attacked, and that had Glazer been Italian Catholic I would not have cared a pig?s a*** about him. This is a shameful accusation. The top ten anti-apartheid campaigners in South Africa were Jews, and some of the most prominent civil rights activists in the USA were Jews, including poor Goodman and Schwerner, slaughtered by rednecks in Mississippi. The Jewish Council on Racial Equality in the UK, led by a man I know and greatly admire, Dr Richard Stone , cares about all manner of men and women. I have always been upset about the way the tabloids and media taunt Mohamed al Fayed. It would be equally bizarre and unpleasant of soccer fans to shout ?Die Die!? about anyone, whatever his nationality or religion.
Another correspondent says I should keep my nose out of British sport etc but if I have been a taxpayer, ratepayer and supporter of the private medical sector for non-British residents to use rather than the NHS, then I think I have a right to comment on the society I have adopted as my home for three decades.
Long ago I started to weep at the sound of ?Jerusalem? and ?Land of Hope and Glory? ( played at every US graduation ceremony since it was composed) and the Naitonal Anthem at the Last Night of the Proms, and am gutted every year that the anniversary of the Munich crash of the Busby Babes rolls by.
Again, I reiterate that the fans and authorities should have nipped Glazer in the bud long before this nightmare for the club became a done deal.
PS In the course of this week of correspondence with Man U fans, I have made some new friends who had started out as 'irate in Bury' etc so the good thing is that this exercise has been a learning experience for all concerned.
Background links :
From 'The Daily Telegraph:'
'....Provided their actions do not stray into excess, these supporters cannot be blamed for their ire. And their fury is clearly not a fire that will easily flicker out. United fans love their club and that is why they should be backed against unwanted visitors from Florida....'