10 April, 2008

The Watford Gap Divide

Everyone who isn’t an Arsenal fan hates Arsenal fans, and the sooner they just accept that and keep to themselves, the better. For an example of why this is the case, look no further than last week’s Champions League tie with Liverpool. It has come to light that an under-15 junior side from Skelmersdale (on Merseyside), who won tickets to the game in a UEFA competition, were verbally abused throughout the game’s opening exchanges for being Scousers, and then subsequently thrown out of the stadium altogether when they celebrated Dirk Kuyt’s equaliser.

All the blame however shouldn’t be directed solely at Arsenal however, because at the end of the day, how moronic was it of UEFA to award Liverpool fans with tickets in an Arsenal area of the ground? Hopefully someone got fired for that cock-up. This isn’t exactly an excuse for the treatment they received though, as the bemused lads, sporting plush UEFA tracksuits, continued to receive insults from Gunners fans as they wandered around outside the stadium looking for somewhere to catch the rest of the game.

We received these words from Ray Radford, the quite geniusly-named manager and chaperone of the Arriva Youth side:

We were having a great day until Liverpool scored. We were seated smack bang in the lion’s den and were abused by grown men - men in suits. These weren’t louts. They started shouting at the lads as soon as they realised we were Scousers. After we’d celebrated Kuyt’s goal, we were spoken to by the stewards and told to leave the ground. Even though I explained to him that the lads were guests of UEFA, because of the competition win, they still chucked us out.”

A dark day for Arsenal fans then. Maybe if they concentrated more on actually supporting their team, instead of taking the piss out of kids for talking differently, the Emirates wouldn’t be so much of a library. But UEFA too must be ashamed of themselves, offering little in the way of support or compensation to the lads when Radford finally got hold of their representative at the Emirates, a guy called Simon Calder:

“He apologised for what had happened saying it was 'unacceptable, appalling and totally unprofessional,’” Radford told the local Liverpuddlian press, “but he said that Arsenal were not going to allow us back in the ground. We were eventually granted access back to our mini-bus but were not allowed to leave the ground until 11pm. By this stage the lads were very anxious, quiet and very, very scared.”

Thanks to the journalistic godzilla that is the Skelmersdale Advertiser for the nuts and bolts of this story, and as ever The Spoiler for the heads up.

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