Tommy Robinson was up for the fight in Guimares on Thursday night and there are reports of England fans chanting his name in bars but together we can fight this influence
Back in the mid-1980s, when English football was a wild, rust-caked, occasionally frightening place, a group of Leeds United supporters noticed that the National Front had gained a small but significant foothold around Elland Road.
Football was seen as a fertile seeding ground for far-right politics. On matchdays the NF had begun to sell its magazine, Bulldog, outside the ground. They became a visible presence, gained a little traction, took a share of the day.
Eventually there was a reaction. Rob Conlon wrote an excellent article about this on the website Planet Ftbol a couple of years ago, recalling the founding of the fanzine Marching Altogether, which staged its own counter-campaign.
Marching Altogether was funny and waspish. Its goal was to mock, challenge and ultimately reduce the racists. The club weighed in. Howard Wilkinson was a vocal supporter of inclusion not division. Vinnie Jones went out to pubs in the citys mixed areas and met the locals. It was not perfect, of course. But football did stand up for itself. A line was drawn. And on that occasion they did not pass.
Fast forward 30 years to the storm-soaked Atlantic coast of the Iberian peninsula and something else is stirring. Yes, its here again. England and abroad; the itch that never seems to get scratched.
Happily there was no real trouble at the Estdio D Afonso Henriques on Thursday night. The Henriques is a sallow, low-slung corrugated hanger of a stadium. The England end was crammed with the usual flags and sheets and proclamations. They came, they stood, they sang about Gareth and coming home and being England till we die, which is a given in any case under current citizenship rules.
Even a shameful crush at the train station passed, by all accounts, without incident. The England fans were just part of the spectacle. But the fear now is that they will be back and in greater numbers in Porto when Englands third-place game becomes just a sideshow for a weekend in the sun.
There has been plenty said and written about the antisocial behaviour of some English people in Porto and Guimares this week. There is general agreement on the main point . Standing arms-spread in a rococo town square, paunch straining out beneath a St Georges Cross vest, singing songs about bombers you never flew and Irish colonial fall-out you never studied at school, teeth bared at the centre of a sun-beaten, booze-addled face the shade and tone of a collapsed Halloween pumpkin: this is not a good look.
Generally the tone has been either despairing or punitive. How did we come to this? And what are we supposed to do now? And yet there are of course things that can be done, because this is not taking place in a vacuum.
This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific
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