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Alan Davies can offer something worth more than £1000

STEPHEN FRY’S QI sidekick, former star of Jonathan Creek, Arsenal fan. Alan Davies is probably known for more than that but without getting Wikipedia out that’s enough to introduce him. The reason he’s getting mentioned on here in the first place is because of comments he made on a podcast he does, “The Tuesday Club”.

The podcast is by – and aimed at – Arsenal fans and consists mostly of cackling about lots of clubs that aren’t Arsenal – as well as passing comment about lots of people unconnected to the podcast. It’s a bit like being stuck near a few lads sitting round a table on the train with a row of empty cans and a fit of the giggles at their own in-jokes. If you’re an Arsenal fan you’ll probably be joining in with the tittering and maybe even emptying a few cans of your own. If you’re not it’ll probably get on your tits – at which point you need to ask yourself why you’re listening to it in the first place.

This could be a completely unfair assessment of the podcast because it’s only based on listening to the large part of two episodes. And the reason for listening was to hear first-hand the comments made by Alan Davies about Hillsborough.

The podcast turned to Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final game against Spurs being played on the Sunday evening before Chelsea play their midweek semi-final first leg against Barcelona in the Champions League. It was pointed out that Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final, against Everton, was to be played on the Saturday to avoid it clashing with the anniversary of Hillsborough on the Sunday.

Davies launched himself into a rant about this: “Liverpool and the 15th – that gets on my tits that sh*t. What are you talking about, ‘We won’t play on the day,’ why can’t they?”

Another voice on the podcast said “Because it’s too sad a memory.”

Davies still wasn’t happy and continued his outburst: “Do they play on the date of the Heysel Stadium disaster? How many dates do they not play on?

“Do Man United play on the date of Munich? Do Rangers play on the date when all their fans died in that disaster… whatever year that was… 1971?”

The two episodes listened to were pretty much wall-to-wall bitching about everyone but Arsenal, accompanied by the giggles of whoever wasn’t speaking at the time. Kenny Dalglish was one of the targets on both episodes – but he was far from being the only target on a podcast that basically tries to be satirical but, to an outsider at least, isn’t really funny enough to sound anything but bitter.

Had he started his rant about Liverpool by complaining about something other than a situation related to Hillsborough the chances are the audience for the podcast would remain restricted to the type of Arsenal fan that finds it enjoyable. If he was just talking about Andy Carroll’s booking at Newcastle or Luis Suárez’s against Villa he’d be able to launch into his little bit about his hatred for Dalglish without it really going any further than the walls of the studio and the headphones of its listeners.

But his rant started with a heartfelt moan about Liverpool’s long-standing determination not to play on April 15th. It made it sound, perhaps, far worse than it was: “Every interview [Dalglish] has given this season he looks like he wants to head-butt the interviewer. This tight-mouthed, furious, frowning, leaning forward, bitter Glaswegian ranting, ‘Liverpool FC do not play on April 15th.’”

He’d tried to do that bit in a Glaswegian accent but failed miserably admitting it was “terrible because I hate him.”

There are lots of reasons why Davies could hate Dalglish and Liverpool. The way Kenny responded to an angry Arsene Wenger at The Emirates last season is one of the most recent examples – and back in the eighties Liverpool and Arsenal were regular title rivals, Liverpool never finishing outside the top two when Kenny was in charge. In between times we’ve had that comeback in 2001 at Cardiff which saw Liverpool lift the FA Cup at Arsenal’s expense and Jamie Carragher’s red card for returning a £1 donation to the general area of the Arsenal fan who’d thrown it at him. Even so, Arsenal have had their fair share of joy at Liverpool’s expense and it seems odd that Davies would be so bitter.

Whatever the cause of his bitterness towards Liverpool – and It’s always possible, of course, that it’s part of an act – it became a problem for him when he basically linked Hillsborough with that hatred.

He’s since apologised on Twitter for the outburst and whilst the Hillsborough Justice Campaign have accepted his apology they’ve not accepted the £1000 donation that he made at the same time:

“The HJC has not accepted the £1,000 paid into its paypal account by Alan Davies. Whilst we accept his apology, we would prefer that he genuinely tried to understand why the decision never to play on the anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster is so important.”

In addition to the apology and the donation Davies tried to explain what he’d really meant: “I’m getting tweets from Liverpool fans who have been given the impression that I was disrespectful to those who lost their lives on 15/4/89.

“Many disagree but I feel that the Liverpool v Everton semi-final could be played on Apr 15. Apologies to those upset by that suggestion.

“I said the Hillsborough disaster was the worst event in modern peacetime history. I was on a terrace listening to a radio as it happened.

“I agree that there must be a full enquiry into Hillsborough but not playing on the 15th doesn’t change anything. It’s not fair on Chelsea.”

Having listened to Davies on his podcast it’s hard not read that “it’s not fair” comment without thinking of Harry Enfield’s spoiled teenage brat character. Enfield didn’t just do Scousers.

The comments show how ignorant Davies is to the reasons behind the club’s long-term decision to resist playing on that date.

For one thing it’s hardly a great hardship for football to make these kinds of considerations. It’s the first time Liverpool have been involved in an FA Cup semi-final since The FA put the ties into hock for thirty years to help pay for their stadium. Liverpool and Everton shouldn’t really be travelling all the way down to London, fans getting on their coaches at 4am, for a semi-final that could have been played at Old Trafford.

And maybe, just maybe, it would have shown more sensitivity if the FA didn’t schedule any semi-finals for that date. Would it hurt to move them to the weekend before or after if the 15th fell on a weekend?

Even UEFA made it clear they would do all they could to accommodate Liverpool’s request not to play a Champions League tie on that date, even though it may have messed up agreements with the TV companies that make the tournament so lucrative.

Part of the complaint from Davies was that the Chelsea-Spurs game was kicking off at 6pm. Liverpool’s game kicks off the day before at lunchtime. Was it Liverpool’s fault that the Chelsea game kicks off so late in the day? Should he not be livid with The FA for allowing ITV to dictate the kick-off time? Should he not be ranting at ITV?

One point he seems to gloss over is that Chelsea’s Champions League match is at home, not in Barcelona, and their FA Cup semi-final is in their home city too.

He also doesn’t really mention that this Champions League semi-final is being played on the Wednesday, not the Tuesday.

Luck gave Chelsea their first leg on the Wednesday rather than the Tuesday and at home rather than away.

Who would everyone be complaining about if Chelsea’s two semis were set for 6pm Saturday (at the behest of TV) and 8pm Tuesday?

It was “not fair” in 1989 when The FA decided how to allocate ends of the stadium, giving the side with the far larger average home gate far less tickets than the other. It was “not fair” in 1989 when the authorities ignored the fact that many fans were delayed getting to the stadium because of problems on the motorways. It was “not fair” that 96 football fans never went back home to their mums and dads and sons and daughters because people who were supposed to look after them treated them like scum.

And those bereaved mums, dads, sons and daughters remember that day every minute of every day. All they ask is that one day out of every year they can remember it with everybody else who wants to remember it with them.

One day.

If we’d given each victim one day, one victim every year, we’d still have 63 years to go before they’d all had that day.

Every year we do remember them there’s a good chance it’s the last time individual mums or dads will be there to do so. Twenty-three years is a long time and many of those parents will never see justice done in their own lifetimes, although we’ll carry the fight on until it’s won.

A service is held at Anfield. It’s attended by Liverpool players, by Liverpool staff of all levels, by families, by survivors, by fans, by fans of other clubs, by people who have no connection to football whatsoever but feel a connection to what happened.

Why would anyone want to stop them from being able to remember what happened for that one day every year?

On the 20th anniversary maybe 30,000 people went to the service. This year might be the same – not everyone can make it on the 15th if it falls on a working day.

As well as the service at Anfield there are services held elsewhere, including Sheffield. People have their own ways of remembering, their own places to go to.

It’s for the families and the survivors to decide, one day, if there is no longer a need to avoid playing on the 15th.

Liverpool always ask not to play on that day and so far have always been granted that request. It’s difficult to imagine a situation where that couldn’t possibly be accommodated.

As for the question about Liverpool playing on the anniversary of Heysel, Liverpool FC has only played on that day once in all of its 120 year history. And that was the day the disaster happened.

Other clubs who have suffered tragedies have their own ways of dealing with their loss and take their own amount of time to come to terms with it – if they ever do. But isn’t that the same for all of us when we’re hit by tragedy? We deal with it in our own way – and it takes a real lowlife to interfere with that just because it might spoil their fun a bit.

For Liverpool April 15th isn’t about football, it’s about remembering 96 people no longer with us and thinking about the hundreds of survivors who still suffer the after-effects of what they went through.

It’s also about reminding football what happens when priorities are wrong.

Alan Davies has had plenty of time to reflect on what he said and the response he got. He should know better than to give the Twitter trolls any attention and to focus on what the more reasonable people have said to him.

He has something more powerful and helpful to the campaign for justice than that £1000 the HJC turned down. He’s a well-known public figure. He can help spread the word, help to get the truth out there. He doesn’t have to be an ‘enemy’ and his apology has been accepted.

Maybe he should try and arrange a quiet meeting with the HJC so they can help him to help them.

It doesn’t have to be on Sunday. Any day will do.

But is one day too much to ask?

Author: Jim Boardman

Writes on here and talks and writes on The Anfield Wrap website, magazine and podcast . Also writes for Mirror Football. Twitter: @jimboardman.

18 Comments

  1. Well written article mate. I’m an Arsenal fan and listener to the podcast and I actually thought the reaction to Alan Davies’ comment was overblown. It was being reported as him ‘making fun’ of the 96 or whatever, when really he was complaining about fixtures in a fairly reasonable way, on a comedy podcast made just for Gooners. But after reading your article I think your completely right. You make the point really well, and I can only wish Davies reads the post because it changed my mind and forced me to think more seriously about the issue behind the issue, so to speak. May the (sad) tradition continue long into the future. Cheers mate,
    Harry.

  2. Great article Jim.

    Twenty three years and it still breaks my heart thinking about this day.

    We migrated to Australia in 1981, but we are proud to be scouse!

    JF96
    YNWA

  3. Beautifully put. I have nothing to add, no need.

  4. Good article and insensitive remarks by Alan Davies but to me it all seems a bit out of proportion. Us Liverpool fans have a bad rep for always playing the victim and to me this seems like a nothing remark blown out of proportion by the media who know how to get a reaction. Then of course you get the death threats or threats to hospitalise him when he plays in Liverpool and again we are made to look like fools.

  5. So he made some daft comments on a podcast that few people listen to, hardly worth getting worked up about but Davies has received death threats.

  6. Great article, mate.

    It’s simple, isn’t it? We don’t play on April 15th because we hold a memorial service attended by thousands INCLUDING: the players, management, etc … so how the hell could we play a game of football without the players?
    But it’s amazing how much ignorance still exists over this disaster.

    I remember watching that Room 101 programme when this cretin, Alan Davies was on it – a few years back – and I was shocked and angry at his all-out attack on Liverpool, the City, comedians, the people, our accent, everything. He certainly wasn’t joking either, so his repugnant comments now don’t come as a complete surprise to me though I feel as angry as I did that day.

    I hope that he reads your article and like the Gooner in the earlier comment realizes just what April 15th means to us.

  7. Well said I used to semi like him but no more, if he is so against Liverpool why do a gig there ? He is a complete numpty , unless your either a Liverpool fan or a Scouser no one will ever know how we feel x

  8. stunning piece Jim. I only hope Allan Davies has read it and truly realises the error he has made. In comedy timing is vital – his was appauling

  9. Good article Jim,

    Interesting that you question why Alan Davies would be so bitter against LFC Jim. No one seems to have mentioned that in 1997 he put ‘Liverpool’ into Room 101 (about 2:30 on this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLUcQprilrY ) so certainly nothing that happened since then to make him that way, it’s been ingrained for a while. Strange considering that they ‘did’ us in ’89 and ’91 and we waited til 2001 for some revenge of sorts.

    Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things but he’s obviously had some sort of vendetta, for whatever reason, for some time.

  10. Just read the comment above… apologies.

  11. Great article Jim
    Speaking as a blue I feel the need to say this after davies ill judged rant. This date is not about Lfc for me it’s about football and about who we are as a city .
    Every 15th I walk up utting avenue I grab a small wreath from the florist next to Taskers I make that walk up the hill and along anfield road and put the wreath next to the monument and I wait a few seconds and I get home as fast as I can without making eye contact with anyone I get back in the house and let my feelings out .
    I was 15 in 1989 and had attended my first match at goodison at 11 in 85 I sneeked there with out my red parents knowledge.
    There was kids my age at hillsborough all going to their 1st
    match alone .
    They did not come back !
    The government at the time s behaviour along with the medias was shocking .
    So for me until the truth comes out and justice is given to them fans I will make the same walk on the 15th .
    Why would this shit get on anyone else’s tits ?
    I never did like davies since I saw him on room 101 and what he has said hasnt really suprised me either .
    His constant re tweeting of the bile aimed at him is ironic given the fact he thinks we are playing the victim isn’t it .

  12. Great article Jim. At first I was really angry out of shock more than anything, but as always you manage to bring things into perspective!

  13. Sadly,Davies is typical of ignorant and ill-informed observers and commentators on Hillsborough.

    But is it their fault? A recent Teletext report on the BBC started with the opening line “A Senior Merseyside Police Officer told Thatcher that drunken Liverpool fans were to blame for the Hillsborough tragedy”.

    We hear it came from a “leak”.I am in correspondence with the BBC questioning why the item was presented in this way to give the impression that it was the conclusion of the “not yet released”government records.So far they just keep stalling.

    Many people around the country read stuff like that as they have done for 20 odd years and jump to the same old conclusions.

    It saddens me that this is still a massive battle against the “Establishment “.

    But….one day…one day….!

  14. Alan Davies should be sacked. He was not at Sheffield when 96 of our fans, our friends and our family were killed through the actions of the police. They went to see a football match and they never came home again. While Rangers and Heysel and the Bradford fire were sad, they have to keep memorial for those who died in their own way and we respect that and hope they have peace and closure.

    Liverpool fans and the families of the 96 do not have closure because we do not yet have justice. The fact that Chelsea fans chanted murderers at a moment’s silence proves that people still believe the lies that were told about that day; lies told by the Sun. The disgraceful behavior of a minority of the Chelsea supporters showed what morons some football supporters can be! But that day we suffered terrible loses and it was horrendous for those who went through it. The memory of that day to many is still too raw and that is why the date is set aside as sacred to the memory or the 96 and which is why Liverpool refuse to play on that day.

    The memorial is planned for the same day every year. Why should it be changed and all the arrangements moved because Chelsea have a Champions League game later in the week? What sort of weak excuse is that? What is more important: the loss of a son, daughter, father, husband, sister, brother or the comfort of the richest football club in the world?

    Other clubs held a moments silence without any problem. No-one else moaned about Liverpool, just this one idiot on a podcast! He is a moron and no-one should take him seriously. Liverpool will not play because they cannot play on that date. It is too painful. Other clubs have a right to remember their tragedies any way that they choose and I respect that. Liverpool only ask that we are allowed to do the same and honour those that we love in peace on the day that their lives were taken from them, following the team that they love.

  15. While Alan Davies’ comments did lack tact, I really don’t think he meant any disrespect. I’ve listened – multiple times – to all of the Tuesday Club (and its former incarnation the It’s Up For Grabs Now podcast) and Alan is caustic for sure, but he’s generally level headed and magnanimous about most things. He probably shouldn’t have gone on that rant, and the press probably shouldn’t have devoted mountains of ink to condemning him, and fans definitely shouldn’t have gone crazy with death threats. Unfortunate all around. Thanks for the post though, it did give me new insight into why the memorial is so special.