As you’ll know by now, Manchester City fans have appealed to Manchester United to abandon the minute’s silence in honour of the Munich dead at their match this weekend. There’s been a certain amount of debate about what this lack of trust in the fans’ behaviour says about modern society, and modern football culture.
Just for once, I’m going to come in in favour of the British football fan. The risk of a break in the silence doesn’t mean a loss of civility and it isn’t a symptom of society’s decline.
There will be more than 70,000 spectators present at Old Trafford this weekend. To compare, the population of the town in which I grew up, Bedford, is 79,000. I am absolutely confident that Bedford contains enough fools to interrupt a minute’s silence held for any reason whatsoever and at any time. The presence of that subset of idiots says nothing about the bulk of the population, nothing at all, and no one would suggest any such thing.
My guess is that the silence will go off uninterrupted. This is still England, after all, and Munich was Manchester’s disaster, not just United’s. It was mining Yorkshire’s disaster too – there’ll be old men remembering on the other side of the Pennines.
But should a small group break ranks, it won’t be football’s fault.