Leicester is a city with over 25,000 children living in poverty (source) yet their fans took great delight in singing about food poverty in their two games against Liverpool over the Christmas period.
If you are a Liverpool or Everton supporter who has ever attended a game at Anfield or Goodison, or if you have travelled across England on an away day, you will have encountered opposition supporters singing about poverty and unemployment on Merseyside, Hillsborough, Heysel, benefit fraud and descriptions of Liverpool as a “shit hole.”
However, you won’t have heard these songs sung as loudly nor with as much glee as they were by Leicester supporters at Anfield during the League Cup tie before Christmas, or at The King Power Stadium six days later, where all sections of home support seemed to loudly join in.
Of course, the spectacle of Foxes fans singing, “feed the Scousers” to Liverpool fans, some of whom had just made a donation to a Leicester foodbank, demonstrates a breathtaking lack of self-awareness.
Not that they are the only ones, I have often marvelled at how supporters representing some of England’s hardest-hit towns and cities rock up at Anfield and attempt to mock us for, well, having the same issues as them.
I imagine the architects of the austerity measures that have triggered a humanitarian crisis in our communities and on our streets rubbing their hands with glee, as the people’s anger and spite is turned not on them, but on those perceived to be the worst affected, in some desperate dash to the bottom of humanities barrel.
- There are over 2,000 food banks in the UK
- The UK is one of the world’s richest economies but 4.3 million children and young people are growing up trapped in poverty. This means 30% of children, or nine pupils in every classroom of 30 pupils, are officially poor *
- Over 25,000 children in Leicester live in poverty *
It may interest some of you to know that Liverpool is not the only city in the country suffering deprivation and food poverty, neither is it the worst hit.
A visit to the Trussel Trust website will reveal many areas in greater hardship than Merseyside (the same is true of crime statistics, by the way). These facts are self-evident, but I’m proud that Liverpool supporters have refused to join in with the completely self-defeating “you’re poorer than us” nonsense.
Instead, at home or on the road, their response to rival supporters has been to chant “Fuck the Tories!” It may be blunt, brilliantly so in fact, but with those three words the real enemy is clearly pinpointed.
Some Leicester fans have argued that theirs is a working-class city, boasting that they have more Labour Party councillors than Liverpool, a boast that carries little weight when many of its citizens see poverty-mocking chants as banter and fair game at football matches. Manchester United or Newcastle supporters could equally argue that their cities tend not to vote Tory, yet we continue to hear their fans rolling out their “always the victim” and “feed the Scousers” shouts whenever we play them.
I saw one exchange on social media, in which a Leicester fan argued it was all just “banter.” He then proceeded to give a lecture that essentially went along the lines of, ‘didn’t your mother tell you to ignore bullies. You lot whinged about it, so it was bound to be sung even louder as a result.’ I’m paraphrasing but this was the gist. I couldn’t help thinking that this individual knew nothing about our city. If he did, he would have realised that Scouse mums rarely tell their kids to ‘ignore bullies and they’ll go away.’ This is because they never go away and only grow more emboldened if you do.
There’s a docudrama called Anne, it’ll be on telly in the New Year. Watch it, I’m sure you’ll find it very informative on the subject of how Scouse mums respond to bullies.
I do find it interesting though that this supporter so readily identifies with the ‘bullies’, and that he harks back to schoolyard culture to justify these songs. The trouble with this, of course, is that it’s more often than not grown adults leading the chorus, often in front of their own kids.
The argument that we should just ignore it or that we are “offended by everything” is just another framing of the “Scousers are victims who love wallowing in self-pity” nonsense, which was first given credence by none other than the current Prime Minister. However, what many outside Merseyside appear to see as “victimhood” or “whingeing,” we see as standing up for ourselves and each other.
Humour in poverty?
Does anyone really believe these are jokes though? If so, then please enlighten me, where’s the humour in poverty?
Of course, others have responded to complaints from Liverpool supporters with classic examples of whataboutery. Rather than condemn the chants of their own supporters, they choose to justify them by pointing out that some Liverpool supporters sing this or chant that.
I’m more than happy to call out Liverpool fans using homophobic slurs, singing about Munich or as some idiots apparently did at Leicester, making references to helicopter crashes.
Indeed, Liverpool released an official club statement after homophobic chanting earlier this year and racist chants have been met with the same action. But singing about children starving? Fair game apparently. Radio silence from Leicester. And Gary Linekar, meanwhile, claimed not to have heard it.
All this stuff should be placed beyond the pale by all supporters regardless of their allegiances. If rival fans want to have a serious conversation about where the line should be drawn, let’s have it. Alternatively, we could continue to live in a tit-for-tat idiocracy.
I suppose some will jump on this and suggest I’m whingeing, being a “victim” or accuse me of being “triggered.” Truth is I’ve been listening to this rubbish for about 30 years.
I’ve experienced it travelling around the country at football matches and even when attending events unrelated to football. All Scousers have dealt with this, on holidays, at University or while working away.
So, if you carry on singing this stuff, be assured that you haven’t just unearthed some rich, previously undiscovered vein of “comedy,” unheard of by Scousers and bound to wound them to their very core. Instead, you’re just indulging in tired old stereotypes that do as much harm, if not more, to your cause as it does to ours.
Of course, there will also be those correctly pointing out that those singing these songs don’t represent the majority. They definitely don’t. I have good friendships with supporters from many different clubs, and I know they cringe when their fellow fans indulge in this stuff, as I do when I hear one of my own being an idiot. I guess we can all do more to unite and call this stuff out.
In all likelihood, though, I expect these chants to carry on. Those singing them will doubtless be filled with a smug sense of self-satisfaction, believing that they’ve somehow injured us with their “wit” or scored some great “banter points.” They’ll laugh and congratulate themselves on successfully baiting the Scousers.
Then, tragically, most of them will return home to uncertain employment, no employment, insecure housing, walking past foobanks and homeless people as they go. And all the while they’ll be blissfully unaware that to the people who continue to create these problems – the Tories – they are little more than useful idiots.
* You can make a donation to a foodbank here.