FEBRUARY 10th sees Manchester United play Manchester City at Old Trafford, a big local game in any season’s calendar but one that is given extra importance this season because it comes four days after the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster.
The marking of one of the darkest periods in the football club’s history is important to both the fans and the management – Manchester United as a whole. Some have expressed concern that, given the opposition and the tension between the local rivals, any traditional mark of respect such as a minute’s silence would not be honoured by the visiting fans. Some argue that Manchester City fans would think nothing of ruining what is always a sombre moment. I wonder what people who expect the minutes silence to be disrespected by City fans, make of the latest developments from those in blue.
Manchester City’s own Supporters club have now thrown their hat into the ring and have suggested that the silence be changed to a minute’s applause. United officials to their credit have decided that the silence is the most appropriate course.
Periods of applause have been used to honour talented players in the past and it is in my opinion sometimes appropriate to show appreciation for a talented player and focus more on their particular gifts and the happiness they brought to the supporters. For the Munich remembrance however, I think silence is the only option because the loss was not just one player – it was the loss of players and officials, and the immense feeling of tragedy and grief that hit not only Manchester but the football world. Loss on such a scale in such circumstances should not be met with applause and I think Manchester United are quite right in their insistence that the silent remembrance stands.
Manchester City’s Supporters club seem to only be echoing the uncertainties of some Manchester United fans in that while they want the moment to be respected, they fear it will not be. However you have to question the wisdom of such a suggestion that applause is better as a mark of respect, it is not.
It is better for Manchester City Football Club because, as the City Supporters’ Club secretary says…
“In this way, any idiot who does not share these views (of respect) will be drowned out rather than highlighted.” – KEVIN PARKER, MAN CITY SUPPORTERS’ CLUB CHAIRMAN.
The Man City fan is clearly looking out for his own club. He is looking out for the blue half of the city. The minute’s applause saves Man City the spotlight that would be on them if ‘any idiot’ opens his mouth and the reaction that would follow. If many City fans will not go along with recognition of the disaster what is wrong with them being spotlighted? It will not reflect badly on our team or our club and says everything about them. We probably can expect a few choruses of that awful run way song, but in isolation their voices will not sound so boisterous.
There is of course the possibility that if the City fans start, some of ours will respond and the attempted mark of respect will crumble but I truly hope that does not happen and if there is noise from the away fans, then we keep it to the away fans. That says more than our own reaction would do.
What happens if there is disruption at this game? Will those that predicted it feel happy and content with themselves for making such an insightful point? Will they claim a morale victory? Of course there is a potential for upset at this event but being the first to acknowledge it or being correct in your assumptions will not make anyone cock of the playground, it will simply reflect badly on those involved which is why if City fans insist on being big and clever and making noise there should be a wider reaction against them.
What the Supporters’ Chairman is proposing smacks of self preservation for the club and on the face of it fails to appreciate the depth of feeling that our club have for this period.
Big changes are being made for the football match on this occasion, our own home shirts will lack sponsorship or any of the usual lettering and whilst I am not by any stretch of the imagination the biggest fan of our current club sponsors, I do think it is important to note that to remove such things for this game is a big thing. I don’t care about any ulterior motives that may or may not lie behind it, the simple fact is they agreed to it – they didn’t have to.
I have read today also about some anger about the display of the Babes’ final line up and the United Calypso being ruined by the sponsor AIG in the corner. It is a big deal for big sponsors to make such changes for the football match and it is somewhat naïve to think that they wouldn’t want their name somewhere in the tributes. It would be nice to think that they would be removed from everything and never seen again but in the real world football doesn’t work that way, they paid for the tribute on the front of our stadium and we should expect the sponsors name to be there.
A bigger error is missing the name Busby from the words to the song – in trying to get it right the error will serve as proof to some that our sponsors and our officials are miles away from a connection with this club. Mistakes like this only go to show that what actually makes this day, the Anniversary of the disaster, what it ultimately will be remembered for…is the fans.
The fans of Manchester United will mark the occasion, even in the event of or maybe even in spite of visiting fans not showing respect. Let City deal with City, United fans must be United and if we concentrate on remembering the occasion, the tragedy and the part it played in building Manchester United then surely that will be the most effective tribute we can pay to those that died.
“What is Past is Prologue.”