Colin Moynihan is a twat.
I actually used a stronger four-letter word than that, I’ll leave to you to guess which.
Back in the late 1980’s Thatcher plucked him from the Tory backbenches to do her bidding. Specifically at that time she tasked the junior Minister for Sport with a scheme which thankfully for all football supporters, failed to get off the ground.
The way things were with football back then, it was different world to how it is now. Grounds were dilapidated. The facilities were neglected and little attention was given to their maintenance. Spectators were herded like cattle and sadly there were some who behaved like animals.
There were these “firms”, groups of idiots who regulary gathered to scrap with others outside the grounds. They used the pretence of being a football supporter as an excuse for the fighting. Hardly any of them were actual football fans.
This trend soon spread and many clubs had these firms associated with them. The pitched battles were becoming a regular occurance.
The culture in Thatcher’s 80’s was one of class, greed, of money. The haves and have nots. Wealth was everything and the football was the entertainment of those lower classes. The government solution to the fighting was like many of their ideas: idiotic, ill-conceived and poorly planned.
The thing was Thatcher didn’t understand sport until it encroached on her political territory and it then became an irritant, something to stamp out. She set the police upon the striking miners and the dockers, she was also going to sort out these hooligans.T here was an unpopular chairman of a football club… Yes I know, I need to clarify which… This one was David Evans, the chair of Luton Town football club, a Tory MP and a staunch Thatcherite.
Because of his actions Evans had made Luton a very unpopular club. With the plastic pitch, the banning of away fans and something which caught Maggie’s eye – a members only scheme.
The “Iron Lady” liked this idea and set little Colin with some legislation which would sort out these football ruffians. In their minds it would clamp down on this trouble. But the problem was that it would have also infringed upon our civil liberties.
This legislation was called the Football Spectators Act of 1989 …
This Football Spectators Act would introduce a ‘National Membership Scheme’.
Via BBC News:
» Barmy Army – Civil Liberty
Access to football grounds would be restricted to those in possession of an ID card. The casual fan would be denied; the away fans, as they were at Kenilworth Road, might be banned altogether.
Critics complained that the possibility the vast majority of supporters might be law-abiding citizens seemed not to be considered.
Neither did the technological issues with the cards, or concerns about queues building at turnstiles, or the failure of a similar scheme in Holland, or the fact that most disturbances were outside grounds rather than inside – let alone the wider civil rights issues.
Naturally the genuine football supporters were alarmed at these plans to brand everybody just because of an idiotic few. But worse was this fascist type of conception to have to show some papers to identify yourself. The issue was widely protested and there was a reaction.Around this time there was a rise in the football fanzine. Most of them were dedicated to a particular club. There were a couple that dealt with football in general though. One was When Saturday Comes (WSC), the other was Rodney, Rodney !
It was via these fanzines that the organisation and protests against this act began. Additionally there were some Liverpool fans, upset with the branding and treatment of all supporters after the Heysel disaster, who set up the the Football Supporters Association (now the FSF).
Rodney, Rodney! the Manchester based fanzine, with the help of their London counterparts at WSC, created a campaign to raise awareness of this controversial issue. They did this in a musical way…
Ah you remember those inflatables ?
A snippet from MCIVTA on where this craze began:
At a time when English football was at a bit of a low ebb, banned from Europe following the Heysel disaster, continuing hooliganism and the threat of a national identity card scheme being imposed by the government, there came a craze which brought a smile back to fans’ faces and gave football some long-awaited good publicity. And it all started at Maine Road with a single inflatable banana accompanied by a City fan called Frank Newton.
The story began when Frank went to visit his friend Allen Busby during the Summer of 1987. Allen was a toy collector and amongst the exhibits spread throughout his house was a five foot inflatable banana. Probably under the influence of some beverage or other, Frank thought it would be a good laugh to parade the banana on the terraces at Maine Road. Frank was loaned the banana on condition that he provided proof that he had taken it to the game.
And so on 15th August 1987, the first appearance of an inflatable banana at a British football ground happened. Frank went to City’s first game of the season against Plymouth Argyle with a friend, Mike Clare, and they took pictures before and during the game. The fans’ reaction was universally favourable as the huge yellow object was greeted with laughter wherever it appeared… » Read the full article
Before you knew it there were hundreds of blow up bananas on the Maine Road terraces.
This craze caught on and soon other inflatables began to appear:
At the same time that this album was being planned, compiled and released the tragedy at Hillsborough happened.
Inside each album a note was inserted addressing the disaster, on the other side was a membership form for the FSA:
It would be an album of music.
Of football and music.
As a commentary on this legislation they named it: Bananas!
An explanation of the situation was printed on the back cover of the album:
A wide range of artists were gathered for the album. Most of them were football fans, most of them had a football and music connection.
All of them were against this Bill. You might recognise a few of the names:
I,Ludicrous are well known purveyors of football and music and have been featured on F&M a number of times. / Bradford (from Blackburn.. makes perfect sense) were championed by Morrissey and once supported him on a tour. In fact Mozza himself covered this song on a B side of one of his singles. / Porky The Poet is in fact Phil Jupitus, he started out reading (alternative) poetry. / The Corn Dollies were a short-lived band who appeared at the end of the C86 movement. / The Man From Delmonte, a Manchester band with none of the members actually coming from Manchester. / Too Much Texas were originally from Abingdon but relocated to Oldham. Their lead singer Tom Hingley left to join Inspiral Carpets. / HMHB need no introduction…. / The Waltones were formed in Manchester, their guitarist went on to join The Charlatans. / Attila The Stockbroker, punk poet and musician still going strong. He did something about Brighton & Hove Albion which I’ve still got to write about… / Dub Sex were one of Manchester’s great “lost” bands (so they say), still performing. / The Desert Wolves, yet another Manchester band, released two singles. / Frank Sidebottom, a god of football and music, we miss you the most. You know we do, we really do…
As this bill was being debated and making its way through parliament, a tragedy happened which would affect everything…
But despite this the Conservative government were still determined to push the bill through. Douglas Hurd, the Home Secretary announced in parliament that Lord Justice Taylor would chair an inquiry, he also said:
The bill continued to be forced through despite reservations from members within their own party.
With the Taylor inquiry underway, some MP’s, especially the opposition, wanted to wait for his recommendations. But the Tories pressed on. They were afraid that if there was a delay the impetus would be lost. Besides they were uncertain that Lord Justice Taylor would come to the same conclusions that they had already decided upon.
Eventually the bill was passed, but the Hillsborough disaster report was published and a key part of the Football Spectators Act (Part 1) was brought into question by Taylor:
Hillsborough Disaster Taylor Report.
Chapter 18 (Page 75)