A certain national newspaper, one we don’t read, because of despicable lies it reported as “The Truth” in 1989, has today tried once again to give Jamie Carragher a bad name.
I’ve not read their article, but have read articles elsewhere that talk about it. I’ve no intention of reading their article either, and hope this particular piece here helps anyone who didn’t already know about the boycott of that rag learn fast. We do not buy that rag.
Their front page story talks of Jamie Carragher being abusive and threatening to Luton fans after the game on Sunday, claiming he overreacted to some harmless banter. It pictures him climbing a fence to confront Luton supporters. What it doesn’t show, or it seems even mention, is the true nature of what went on before that.
It would come as no surprise that this rag would take the word of a few fans without attempting to back-up their story with information from the other side. As it happens anyway, Liverpool FC forbid their players from talking to that rag, the only publication in the world to which that policy applies.
Now the local media and a Liverpool fanzine have made moves to put forward what really happened, rather than the accusations of a few attention-seeking fans who actually brought shame to their club.
The Liverpool Echo spoke to some fans of the League One side who had seen first-hand the abuse Carragher got. They were ashamed to see Carra and other Reds stars come under attack by the drunken yobs as they signed autographs for young Luton supporters. They spat, threw beer and also spat beer at the players, as well as making unnecessarily derogatory and obscene comments about the Reds players, unconcerned at the fact the players were with children as this was going on.
Liverpool’s players had been running up and down the touchline near the “executive” rooms at the ground before the abuse began. The group of Luton fans responsible were seen on television ahead of the game, wearing curly wigs and fake moustaches in a salute to a Harry Enfield sketch that was actually quite funny when first aired sometime in the last millennium, but is now so old even UK Gold don’t show it.
The Echo say Carra went over to a number of fans who had been shouting for an autograph, including eight-year-old Hamzah Ahmed. For this he found himself spat at and pelted with beer, alongside foul and abusive comments about him mother in what the Echo describes as a “filthy tirade”. Carra’s a passionate man, and rather than let them get away with it from what they thought was the safety of their little balcony overlooking the pitch, he stood on an advertising hoarding to ask them why they were doing this – after all he was actually signing autographs for their fans.
In the end some other fans from another of the executive boxes had to step in and move the gang away, embarrassed at what their fellow supporters were doing. Luton fan Sim Hussain, 31, told the paper about how the yobs had turned his nephew’s joy at meeting a big-name footballer close up into despair, leaving the youngster in tears: “It was awful. He was making the kids’ day by coming over and meeting them. He was the perfect gentleman.” Carra was a gent, but not the idiots who were intent on giving the struggling club a bad name: “They were swearing at him. The language was terrible and they were even making references to his mother. Even then, Jamie just told them to calm down.”
He went on: “Then someone spat at him and a drink was thrown at him. We had to jump into the box so it all stopped. I’m from Luton and I thought what happened was disgusting. He didn’t have to come over, but he did.” And as Mr Hussain said, this wasn’t just “banter” as the boycotted rag tried to make out: “There’s banter, but that was something completely different.”
He also says that despite their concerns, the club have been refusing to speak to anyone about the incident: “The lads who did it were aged between 18 and 22. We’ve been trying to call Luton FC to tell them what happened but they just put us on hold.”
And despite John Arne Riise’s gift of an own goal even he was the subject of abuse, according to eyewitness. Once the yobs had been moved out of the way Javier Mascherano went back to the supporters and signed more autographs.
The club today said that they had received phone calls putting across the other side of the story to that reported by a rag that was once told by Kenny Dalglish that the way to put right its wrongs in 1989 was to print a headline admitting “We lied”. It refused, and is still boycotted. The club said of the incident: “Clearly the behaviour of these fans was completely unacceptable.”
The Echo were also told by an “Anfield insider” what they believed had happened: “The players were warming down on the side of the pitch near the tunnel. There were family in the executive boxes and they were running up and down near those boxes. They were asked to go and sign some autographs which they did. But as they were jogging up and down they started to get a lot of earache from some supporters, some of which was quite nasty.”
Then came the final straw for Carra: “Somebody showered Jamie with a drink, possibly ale, which caused him to briefly react.”
A Luton FC spokesman said earlier that, “There was a problem which is being investigated by our safety officer.”
Liverpool FC fanzine, The Liverpool Way, has also commented on the incident after speaking to Carra. They say that Carra was upset at the fact he was showered in beer and abused when he was signing autographs for their own – so-called – fellow fans. See ‘Sad Hatters‘ for the full story and hints as to why the boycotted paper doesn’t think a great deal of Carra.
Liverpool supporters have long had a dislike of Luton Town given their antics in the FA Cup back during the Kenny Dalglish era, alongside their away-fans ban and their plastic pitch. But that can hardly be blamed on the fans, who were given a bad name by this wig-wearing minority. However it’s clear that not all their supporters are like this, and huge credit goes to those fans who tried to contact the club and the press to put the true story out there. Let’s hope that Luton Town act quickly to ban these idiots and to issue an apology to Carra and his team-mates. It’s not just Liverpool fans who boycott that rag after its lies of 1989 and other lies since, perhaps that boycott will grow in light if this incident.
Further evidence of how the boycotted rag has once again told front-pages lies comes from another Luton supporter. Further proving that this small group of “fans” has embarrassed Luton’s true supporters, Luton-born Simon Lamport told the Press Association that what he saw happen was quite different to what had been reported, and he was desperate to make sure the true story was put forward: “I witnessed what happened and it is nothing like what is being portrayed. I was in the executive box with my son a couple down from the one where it all happened. All the other fans had gone, but Liverpool players were jogging round the pitch. Afterwards, those players had come across to sign programmes, shirts and so on for the fans, including my son.”
Mr Lamport went on to describe the group of hooligans: “There was a group of Luton fans who had been dressed up in wigs as Scousers, and they started taunting Jamie Carragher. Then what looked like spit, or maybe it was beer, was aimed at Carragher. Yes, he did jump up onto the barrier to talk to them.”
And Mr Lamport claims the allegation in that ‘newspaper’ claiming Carra had to be dragged away by security staff was untrue: “He was not led away by security staff, or anything like that, and then he jumped down again. He could easily have gone straight into the executive box, but did not.” It also seems the bullying yobs weren’t quite so brave when faced with Carra up close: “But the eight or so fans in the box backed away pretty quickly. There were references also to Carragher’s family.”
Mr Lamport spoke no doubt for most Luton fans when he said: “What happened to him was completely out of order. I don’t think players should have to put up with that sort of thing, especially when they have come across to kindly sign autographs and talk to the youngsters. I’m not a Liverpool fan, I was born and brought up in Luton, but the way this has been portrayed is not right.”
It’s unlikely the paper will be making any kind of apology tomorrow in light of its failure to check the allegations made by the drunks in the box, but as the afternoon has gone on more and more coverage has been devoted to putting Carra’s side of the story across. No doubt the story will fail to get even a mention in tomorrow’s paper.
After we first published this article another Luton supporter came forward to express his disgust at the incident on Sunday. Leaving a comment on this site, Peter Birt said, “As a Luton Town fan, may I say how disgusted I am at the behaviour of a small number of our fans to Jamie Carragher and some of his team mates after the match on Sunday, it leaves a very sour taste in the mouths of the vast majority of Hatter’s fans after what was a great advert for the FA Cup.”
As we said earlier, let’s hope for a hard-fought replay at Anfield next week, with some good-natured banter between both sets of fans. And of course – please – for a Liverpool victory!