The attacks on Alan Davies have been a disgrace
Says Liverpool fan and comedian Chris McCausland
I am a Scouser and lifelong Liverpool fan. I was 11 years old when the Hillsborough tragedy happened and I can still remember the day’s events and the emotion in the city very vividly.
I have not always been blind and remember watching the football on the television that afternoon and seeing the shocking scenes unfolding before my eyes. I remember the panic because one of my closest friends had gone to the match with his Dad. I remember the relief when we got the message that they were fine.
This was before the convenience of mobile phones and so Sheffield residents who lived near the stadium were letting Liverpool fans into their homes to phone loved ones and let them know they were all right.
I remember the pictures and the headlines in the papers over the following days. I remember going to Anfield with my parents and leaving a Liverpool jersey that I had saved my pocket money to buy on the edge of the penalty area with all of the other offerings of scarves and footballs and flowers which covered the entire pitch.
I remember seeing adults crying, grown men and women inconsolable – people who had lost loved ones had gone to Anfield as it was the one place that they could feel closest to them. I remember the 23 years that have followed and the continued search for justice that has never waned and been reinvigorated even more on every anniversary by the continued remembrance of those who were lost.
I remember all of this and yet I am still ashamed to find myself associated with the extremely obscene and vulgar vocal minority who have taken it upon themselves to represent an entire city in their disgusting and relentless retaliatory attacks on Alan Davies, over comments he made about Liverpool's unwillingness to play on the anniversary of Hillsborough.
This has angered and upset many people associated with Liverpool - both the club and the city, as for many Liverpool fans April 15 is not simply an anniversary of a tragedy that happened nearly a quarter of a century ago; it is a chance to remember those for whom justice is still being sought. A memorial service is also held at Anfield every year, which would obviously clash with any football fixture on that day.
In light of all the facts and emotions, I believe that Alan himself would probably admit that his was an opinion that was not entirely informed or thought-out – just like we have to consider the environment and circumstances in which Alan's comments were made.
They came in an unscripted podcast about football. A podcast that is built on comedy and banter. Alan did not make these comments in a way that was directly aimed at Liverpool fans and the families of those lost at Hillsborough and he most certainly did not set out to disrespect the dead.
He has been on the receiving end of some of the most awful abuse this week, despite an apology to all those he may have upset and an offer of a donation to the Justice for 96 campaign.
Twitter as a medium isn't solely responsible for the mass of emotions and feelings that have snowballed this week, the national media should also be ashamed of the way in which they have reported on events with headlines designed to provoke what was already a sensitive issue. The Guardian reported that Alan's donation of £1,000 had been refused by the charity in a way that made out that his apology was too little too late. On closer investigation, the charity had gratefully accepted Alan's apology but said to him that there was no need to make a cash donation and that they would simply like him to understand and appreciate the issues and feelings that surround April 15 for Liverpool fans.
I do not personally know Alan and so this is not a defence of a friend; it is simply a defence of a fellow comedian. If it wasn't for spontaneity, opinion and contention then a great deal of what is integral to comedy would be lost and we would all be worse off for it. Alan has always been one of my favourite comedians since long before I ever held a microphone myself – and for me as a Scouser, a Liverpool fan and a comedian, this will not change.
Liverpool is a city of great integrity and pride and yes it is true that we do wear our hearts on our sleeves but with good reason I think. I have been disgusted by some of the verbal attacks that have been made towards Alan this week that have been so disproportionate to his intentions as a man, a football fan and an comedian.
But unfortunately in many cases it is the shameful vocal minority who are heard louder than the decent majority who respond with dignity. I hope that this can be put behind us now as we move in to a weekend of football and remembrance for the people of Liverpool.
I also hope that Alan's scheduled Liverpool Empire show in September can still go ahead so that the decent majority of the city can let him clear the air himself and do what he does best and give them a night of laughter.
Posted: 13 Apr 2012