My Cross to Bear – Jonathan Liew
Football Hooliganism in the United Kingdom
This week’s Pub Convos is a bit of a different one and a personal one. With Fathers’ Day approaching and the Euros in full swing, I thought I would speak about my relationship with football and the journeys that have led me to where I am today.
Friends of mine reading this will know I am a passionate Liverpool fan, and I always will be (unless the Super League rears its ugly head again). I am a Liverpool fan because my father is a Liverpool fan. Growing up my father was a man of few words, I never got to see him a lot because of his work but when I did, we would always talk about football, even if it was me asking him what the scores were and who scored (time difference meant I couldn’t watch the games). Sometimes I would still ask him even though I already knew just to keep the conversation going. My fondest memories were when he used to bring me along to his Sunday league games and I would play on the side-lines while he was on the pitch.
Fast forward two decades later, I am still a Liverpool fan but much closer to the source of the magic. I went to university in Manchester, about an hour away from Anfield, where I met scousers and learnt words like bezzies and pronounced lad without the d. This is also where I learnt that some scousers don’t see themselves as English and sometimes could not be bothered with the national team. The reasons range from politics, cultural identity and disliking the fanbase. This is the same relationship I have with the English football team.
I support the Malaysian football team, no question about that. Now with that being said, I like the English team; they have great players. My childhood idols growing up all played for England, the likes of Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, and David Beckham. Despite my affection towards the team, I find it extremely hard to support them in competitions since moving here. The association with football hooliganism, racism and extreme nationalism from English fans leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The songs they chant perpetuates toxic hatred and colonialism, something I can never swallow. You can say that maybe it is just a small minority of fans who give the fanbase a bad name but having experienced first-hand the toxicity, arrogance, and hostility of certain England fans, I cannot with any conscience support the team. The recent rise of right-wing ideologies do not help the cause either. I do not want to paint everyone with the same brush, and I do genuinely appreciate the football they play.
All this makes it extremely hard to connect with football and fall in love with it again just as I did when my father introduced me to the game some 20 years ago. I still follow football; I love watching it and the passion surrounding it. I just can’t look away from all the other things that come with it.