Azzurri Gio...
The Friendly Derby
Bookmark and Share

I used to love going to derby matches, now you couldn't get me there if you paid me and gave me a free ticket. I've been through the fantastic highs of the King and Sharp winning goals to the desperate lows of the Keeley and Clive Thomas games so it's not the results that have stopped me going, it's the atmosphere.

Although it's still called the "friendly derby" by the misinformed national media I think we all know that went out of the window in the eighties, which is exactly when I stopped going to those games.

It's hard for me now to equate the old days of going for a drink with red mates before and after the game no matter what the result, to the in ground scuffles and after match fighting following the poisonous and sometimes disgusting chanting that's been exchanged for the 90 minutes of the game which occurs so regularly now.

I'm not going to study the history of the 80's and the various reasons why attitudes have changed, I think that's been well documented elsewhere, and there's plenty of blame to be shared around, but I do believe this was the start of the phrase "bitter blues". Ironically this phrase was invented by "bitter reds" who fail to see that their continued use of this nickname perpetuates the hatred and bitterness on both sides of Stanley Park.

I'm not naïve enough to expect to see the return of the Milk Cup "Merseypride" posters, or the time when fans from both sides would turn out to watch the open top bus tour for whoever had won a trophy, (and yes, this did used to happen), but I think the forthcoming semi final clash should be a watershed in our relationship with our neighbours, where the vile songs come to an end.

There is definitely a place for chants against the opposition, although the effort put into them should be surpassed by that put into songs actually supporting your own team. However, there has to be a line drawn somewhere, and there can be no excuse or place for any chants related to the causes of or the deaths of managers, players, fans or anyone else.

I'm not trying to preach or take some moral high ground here, just simply asking for common decency.

This weekend sees the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy. 1989 was possibly the last time reds and blues fans were really close, as everyone united in grief and bewilderment. I realise Liverpool fans were affected more than anyone else, but I believe we weren't too far behind. I remember travelling back from our semi final in stunned silence, nobody celebrating our win or even talking about football. In those pre mobile phone days we were hanging on every word from the radio news bulletins from reporters who still didn't seem to know what had gone on. A look around the coach showed faces of people thinking only of their friends and family who may have been at the game and involved in whatever had happened. We were all desperate to get home to our loved ones to try and get more information, hoping against hope that the reports of people dying at a football match were exaggerated or wrong. The following weeks and months saw a city and two football clubs united in grief, and it was quite simply the worst time in my football supporting life.

This makes it all the harder for me to understand how anyone, no matter how small a minority, can sing songs about this tragedy. Maybe it's young people who didn't live through that time that think it's acceptable but, quite simply, it's not. There can be no provocation thrown at us that merits retaliation mentioning Hillsborough. None.

I've already seen some of the Everton shirts and banners commemorating the tragedy, and showing support for the Justice for the 96 campaign which will be on show at Wembley on Saturday and I applaud these fantastic gestures from genuine fans.

Unfortunately we'll never see the return of the "friendly derby" but I beg you, no matter what the outcome of the game next weekend, please think twice before you join in a chant and let's put a stop, once and for all, to this poison.

R.I.P. the Hillsborough 96


Comments about The Friendly Derby
Fantastic post. My believes in this issue is because it is now a different generation watching the game so the likes of Heysel and certainly Hillsborough was not experienced by the younger generation. Merseyside came together like no other city could. I love the banter at the derby games and expect it to be no different on Saturday. We thrieve on singing about knowing our history so lets get behind Everton and sing about us not them. COYB,s
Paul , Everton, 6:57 AM 12/04/2012
In the minutes silence I will be thinking of those who also died at Hillsborough, Valley Parade, Burnden Park, Ibrox, Heysel amongst others. Great post. COYB
Blue_Potter, Stoke, 6:37 PM 11/04/2012
Ghandi said "Be the change you wish to see in the World". I don't think he was a Blue, but he spoke a lot of sense all the same. COYB!
Chiz, Wavertree, 1:51 PM 11/04/2012
Couldn't agree more - great article. We could just have easily been the fans in the Leppings Lane that day - my Dad and family were at our Semi. Let's show the world what a proud city we are and how fantastic Scousers are by impeccably observing the silence for the 96 then roaring the Blues on to victory. JFT96 COYB
JoJo, Lpool, 12:57 PM 11/04/2012
In all my years of going to Goodison, i have never heard one chant against Hillsborough...
Gary, Liverpool, 10:44 AM 11/04/2012
Well Said. Would have liked to see the 2 clubs Managers come together this weekend and publish something similar in the Echo.
Jay Tee, Bootle, 10:30 PM 10/04/2012
Best post in a long time. Justice for the 96.
Emma, Blackpool, 9:35 PM 10/04/2012
One City. One people
Phil, Edinburgh, 9:12 PM 10/04/2012
Great sentiments Gio and spot on. Gary we sing we don't care what the Redshite say but we obviously do if we are rising to them and singing songs about their players and thier history. Let's big Everton up on Saturday not belittle Liverpool!!!
Matt, London, 6:34 PM 10/04/2012
Couldn't agree more. I was 6 months old when the Hillsborough tragedy happened but we as Evertonians pride ourselves on knowing our history. Let's cut it out and focus our chanting on the boys in blue. Of course there is no harm in stating that we don't care what the red 'side' say!
Gary, Norris Green, 2:15 PM 10/04/2012
I couldn't agree more with these sentiments. Most of my mates back home are Reds or Blues and most of the time we get on great. There's some cheeky banter every now and then, but for some reason when the derby comes around a few of them lose perspective and get all aggro at the slightest provocation. I occasionally get abuse after a match from Reds fans because some other Blues have given them grief, but that loss of perspective sees us all lumped in together. The best teacher I have had post derby is from my Dad - a Red. We discuss the game reasonably, we concede when decisions have gone in either's favour and never a bad word exchanged. He's even said that he has divided loyalties this weekend. My sister and I are going to Wembley, and although his first choice if for Liverpool to win, he wants us to have a good day out. He was made up when we beat United in 95, and I was supporting them in 96. That is what he grew up with and I like it that way. He also says that winning two trophies would paper over a pretty poor season from their point of view. We would both focus on our own teams than spend our time berating the other's.
Grongy, Salford, 1:20 PM 10/04/2012
One city one people! So we used to say. Great shout but too many arses who don't get what its all about. Dyed in the wool blue and nothing more i want than to beat the darkside on Saturday. Will I punch my rednose mate in the face if we dont? I cant see it. Its a chance to show those that knock us (usually those that dont know us or have ever been here) what we are all about. Come on blues...JFT96 on Saturday to showcase to the world that we really are one city one people. Then lets give the other lot a proper beating on the pitch and everyone can come home together.
Mike, Lpool, 1:05 PM 10/04/2012
Spot on Gio.
Ronnie Mukherjee, Liverpool, 12:40 PM 10/04/2012
Fantastic post! There will be alot of reds and blues travelling down together including me and my blue mrs. The majority will get along together and have a great day but as always it only takes a few from either side to make the headlines for the press. Its up to us older one's to educate the younger generation. Maybe and to take a stand against these fans who think its right to sing these songs. Great respect to the blue Hillsborough remembrance banners they are and always will be appreciated. "All together now for Merseyside"
Reddav72, Widnes, 11:57 AM 10/04/2012
New comment about The Friendly Derby
 Please type the string above in the input box below.