I do not often, if ever, quote the Bible. Largely because I am agnostic and know little of its content.
However, there is one passage in Corinthians which mentions faith, hope and charity.
I’m not 100% sure how it goes but the greatest of these , it goes on to say is Charity, which has latterly become ‘Love’ in recent translations. It goes on.. ‘When I was a child I thought as a child , when I became a man I put away foolish things’ I paraphrase but that’s the gist of it.
We are each partly a product of the times we grew up in. As a teenage football fanatic in the mid-sixties, following Manchester City all over the country I sang songs which referred to the Munich air disaster. These were more often sang on the coach rather than in the stadium. At that time racist jokes abounded on the telly, stories about ‘Spastics’ could raise a titter, and even the dreadful disaster in South Wales (remember Aberfan?) attracted the sick joke makers at school.
I didn’t take a plastic bag with me when I took the dog for a walk , no pooper scoopers in those days & my Dad seldom locked his Hillman Minx up at night on the estate where we lived. These were different times, very different. Political correctness simply did not exist. I don’t relish certain aspects of PC now but it has brought with it elements of civilising decency for which we should be grateful.
I’d never known really close family bereavement , never been in love, never had children, never realised what loss meant until I was a little older. When I discovered what life can throw at you I stopped singing childish , cruel songs about the Munich air disaster. I ‘put away’ foolish things. Most of them anyway (though I still played Subbuteo with myself).
The topic of visceral hatred expressed in song, and chant is much in the news at the moment. Some Manchester United fans sported an ‘ISTANBUL’ banner at a recent game at Leeds, two supporters of the Yorkshire club were murdered in the Turkish capital a while back. The home contingent probably responded with taunts of Munich. Even last Saturday Phil Neville - having upset City fans (largely for being Phil Neville) was loudly rounded upon as ‘a dirty Munich bastard’ which encouragingly attracted boos from a large section of the ‘Etihad’ crowd.
Most unpleasant it was . There is no place in the society we live in today for such uncharitable, unpleasant utterances. I have often reproached myself for the errors of my youth. These days , although I do not like Manchester United one bit, I am fascinated by their history. I proudly display their player’s Biographies in my home and inside my copy of Sir Bobby Charlton’s ‘My Life in Football’ are full length DVD’s telling his story, and ‘UNITED’ the recently televised film of events around the Munich crash.
At a car boot sale a few weeks ago I spotted a Match programme from the 50th. Anniversary ‘derby’
An occasion which City fans played their part in observing the pre-match silence impeccably. The issue was full of poignant reminders of the days when the city was united in grief for the dead, players, staff, journalists and private individuals alike. City were very supportive of their neighbours at that time - as they have been over the decades, fans too, before the nastiness of hate fuelled ultra-rivalry kicked in. It’s time to draw a line under this nauseating derision of disasters which have blighted football from Bradford to Bolton, from Hillsborough to Heysel.
City’s squad in Germany for tomorrow’s game with Bayern have laid a wreath at the Munich memorial.
I wonder how many of our fans who still sing those callous lyrics will themselves soon be sat nervously waiting for their aircraft to hurtle up the runway at the same airport.
Give it a rest . Let’s have some charity back in football.
Unlike the people who compile the Bible I can’t translate that to ‘Love’ in this context I’m afraid. Not where United are concerned anyway. But charity starts at home, and away - so let’s set to it, and ditch the ugly side of rivalry. Grow up . Celebrate life instead of insulting death.