I was with the West Ham fans at Spurs yesterday. I’ve been a West Ham season ticket holder for 20 years, and was sitting with my 70-year old uncle, an East End Jew who has been going to West Ham since the 1950s. At Upton Park we sit with my two cousins who have been season ticket holders since the 80s. My brother-in-law and niece and nephews have seats across the stadium, and their family have been season ticket holders for decades. As have thousands of other Jewish West Ham fans.
One of our chairmen is Jewish. The current captain of the Israeli national football team plays for West Ham.
There is a very clear line with antisemitic chanting aimed at Spurs. There’s a song that goes like so: “We’ll be running round Tottenham with our willies hanging out singing I’ve got a foreskin haven’t you….?” This is funny.
A very small minority of fans (and not just West Ham fans) choose to follow this with “….Fucking Jew!”. This isn’t. That’s the line. Needless to say, any chants referencing the Holocaust are light years beyond this line.
About a hundred or so West Ham fans were singing chants about Adolf Hitler in the lower tier yesterday, where we were sitting, for about two minutes towards the end of the game. My uncle wears earplugs to most games now. I hope this buffered it out. I turned around and voiced my disgust, and the blokes sitting behind me stopped. The blokes sitting behind them didn’t.
Aside from the obvious offence to Jews, this minority are also polluting the reputation of the club and its fans – of whom the vast, vast majority will be as sickened by the chants – and the hilarious Lazio stabbing songs – as I was. Sadly the thousands of fans who brilliantly represented our club yesterday won’t get written about, because of these idiots.
West Ham is not a racist club and never has been. I’ve heard numerous tales of National Front magazine sellers being chased away from Upton Park over the years. The club lies in the heart of one of the most dense Indian and Bengali neighbourhoods in London, and its Asian support is rising.
The moronic minority who chant the antisemitic songs are, quite possibly, not pathological racists. They are morons. As with every minority of morons, however, they shout loudly. We can all hear them. Every West Ham fan. And yesterday was certainly not the first time these morons have chanted like this. Every club has them, with their own unique vile chants, doing their own little bit to give football a bad name.
We, the majority with sense, have a responsibility not to let the morons define us. We don’t need to apologise on their behalf, because they are nothing to do with us, but we do need to call it out. The club have responded strongly, and so will the police. The fans must too.