The Liverpool FC Supporters’ Union have issued a statement about the incident in The Sandon pub near LFC’s Anfield Stadium on Saturday:
There seems to be a certain amount of confusion over what went on in The Sandon public house on Saturday afternoon after Liverpool played Middlesbrough. What we know is that Tom Hicks Jnr visited The Sandon, was heckled by Liverpool supporters and left before the situation spiralled out of control. There is nothing in the known facts the SOS, Liverpool Supporters Union, has any desire to condemn. If thousands of supporters are prepared to stand en masse in the Kop and protest against the current ownership then it should go without saying some, if not most, would be prepared to make these points to its public face given a rare opportunity. Physical violence towards individuals is something which we will not condone, yet there is no evidence this occurred here. Indeed, Mr Hicks Jnr appears to have been treated for the most part with distance and disdain, not wholly unlike the treatment of Liverpool supporters by Hicks and Gillett and all those connected with them over the last twelve months. Spirit Of Shankly Sons Of Shankly – Liverpool Supporters Union
Various stories about what had really happened started to do the rounds of the various LFC message boards from Saturday night onwards, and by the time some reporters had heard about it the story had taken on a life of its own. Most of those who said they’d been there probably weren’t, and those that were probably got told what had happened rather than seeing it with their own eyes.
Tommy should not have gone into the pub, even with his security staff, unless he was prepared to get some abuse. If he’d asked the police in advance it goes without saying that he’d have been warned against doing so. As it turns out, most of the abuse he got was verbal, some close-up renditions of the anti-owner songs that have been getting sung on the Kop after games recently.
One person who was there and can be trusted to tell us what happened without adding any imaginary punches to the story is the Echo’s Tony Barrett. He said there were no punches thrown, but does report that someone tried to spit at Hicks Jnr, and someone else threw their beer at him. Both of those attacks are some way short of the claims that were made of actual violence against the co-owners’ son, but are still attacks that shouldn’t have happened. We condemned the Luton fans who acted in a similar way towards Jamie Carragher last month. Their actions were perhaps worse in that Carragher was actually signing autographs for Luton fans at the time, but Hicks Jnr isn’t the one who told the lies about Rafa being lined up for the sack for example.
Tommy’s visit began with him taking photos and having a smoke outside the pub, before going into a smaller, quieter section of the pub. There he was asked some basic questions, probably the same as all of us would ask in that situation. In fact Tony says that the questions were getting quite direct, “Paxman style” as Tony puts it, and maybe if he’d been left alone we’d all have learned something new. But word was spreading, and soon the room was full of supporters, who began to sing the protest songs.
Soon Tommy’s face changed from a smile to a grimace, and before long he was asking his security staff to help him get out. He left in a people carrier, which contrary to reports can’t have been damaged according to Tony: “Reports the vehicle suffered £1,000 worth of damage seemed to be unfounded. The people carrier had left before any supporters even made it onto the street.”
Tony also got some quotes from thirty-year-old Tommy: “I went to the Sandon with some friends because I have wanted to go for quite some time to see the birthplace of the club. I also wanted the opportunity to have a direct talk with some of the supporters. I respect that some patrons have major disagreement with us, but that comes with the territory. I did have several constructive conversations in my short visit and look forward to following up with them next time I am in Liverpool.”
You can read Tony’s full account of events here: Tom Hicks Jnr: How visit to the Sandon turned nasty.
The clear message coming out of this is that physically attacking one of the owners is pushing things too far, and had that actually happened it would have been condemned by the vast majority of supporters. However going into a fan pub after a game when some supporters will have been drinking since lunchtime is hardly the wisest move an owner can make.
Tommy’s task, if he takes a bigger role in running the club in the future, is to try and convince the supporters that the mistakes of the past will stay in the past, and that he’s got abilities never seen when Foster Gillett was supposedly running the club. He’s got to work hard to prove, with actions more than words, that he’s got what it takes to turn the mess of the past 12 months into the start of a successful era for the club. Can he show us a way that will allow the club to have a transfer budget that gives the manager a chance of competing with those above him? Can he prove that perhaps it was Gillett that was the bad guy, and that his father was more naive than vindictive? It’s a lot to prove, and only part of it. Some won’t ever forgive the family, you can be sure of that.
But until the actions prove there are new-found good intentions, post-match visits to the locals of Anfield are perhaps best left alone for now. But if he can change the approach of the last 12 months, and bring number 19 and the rest to Anfield, who knows? Maybe there’ll come a day when he’s in The Sandon being showered in champagne.