Prior to Sunday’s derby match there were a number of people who were certain that the minute’s silence in memory of the Munich air disaster would pass off uninterrupted. Whether this belief was out of genuine optimism or just wishful thinking I cannot say, but what I can say is that they were right and I was wrong. I was always of the pessimistic “it takes one idiot” school of thought; or rather it takes one to shout “Munich”, a second to respond with “show some fucking respect”, and a third to continue the snowball from there. I didn’t fancy the look of the law of averages on this one, and so while I could appreciate why United believed so strongly that a minute’s silence was the most appropriate way to mark the tragedy I was just as certain they simply weren’t going to get it, and that some sort of compromise should have been worked out; but I was wonderfully mistaken, and the silence was indeed a suitable and fitting memorial.
In the event such was my concern that I even absented myself from the country during the match, but I still watched it unfold on the TV while sat in the Blue Bell Inn, Conwy, in the shadows of the castle (and literally in the shadows, thanks to the gloriously unseasonal blazing sunshine) as my wife and I shushed the children and I waited nervously for the first numbskull to pipe up and break the silence; but it never happened and after the minute was up I heaved a sigh of relief.
So to the match, and I followed it as best I could while eating my own lunch and trying to cajole two children into eating theirs. I was one of the few to cheer when Vassell and Benjani scored, but I have no idea how the pub reacted to Carrick’s consolation goal. I left at half-time to explore the castle, strangely confident that our defence would be able to withstand United for a further 45 minutes, and so it proved. As the minutes ticked by and my mobile failed to buzz with a goal flash I began bounding around the turrets and ramparts until word came of the final whistle. What a perfect day.
We shouldn’t get carried away though; there will have been some in the crowd at Old Trafford who will have sung Munich songs before, and no doubt will do again. I can take a certain pride in the behaviour of the City fans on the day, but if a few had let the majority down that wouldn’t have been a reason to tar all Blues with the same brush, and so let’s not go overboard with praise either. For whatever reason, be it because of the threats from the club, the desire to show themselves in a good light, or because they wanted to commemorate the passing of Frank Swift, the morons kept their heads down. None of these incentives should have been required, all that was needed under the circumstances was for people to act like decent human being; but not everybody is, and anything that helped contribute to the silence being so successfully observed I am very grateful for.
Of course it is never enough for some; my erstwhile colleague Danny Pugsley pointed me in the direction of the Red Issue forum, which along with this report and no doubt the 6-0-6 message-board shows some Reds remarking that while “they” may have managed to shut up for sixty seconds, “they” have otherwise been singing about Munich for fifty years. “They”, as far as many of the commentators on the forum are concerned, are all City fans, variously known as knobheads, scum, fuckers, vermin, cunts, twats and so on. A curious bunch those forum members are to be sure, to act so indignantly and to assume the moral high ground, to accuse others of being bitter; certainly they seem wholly unsuited for the role. But whatever they may say and whatever they may call themselves they have nothing in common with the many reasonable United fans I know; the forum lot are merely nincompoops, representative only of that cretinous minority of football supporters that all clubs attract to some degree, and just the sort of fans who would happily join in with the Munich chants were it not for the fact that they consider themselves to be Reds.