West Ham: a minority of morons must not define us

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.

10 responses to “West Ham: a minority of morons must not define us

  1. Here here – great article.

  2. Am glad to see West Ham have responded well to this incident. Agree with the points in your post too but think most important (and difficult) thing is that we all have to somehow find the balls to confront people at the time, as you did. We’ve all become so scared of confrontation that we allow utterly unacceptable behaviour all around us – at the football, on the train, in the street.

    People who chant racist songs are, as you say, mostly probably morons rather than out and out racists but it doesn’t matter – whatever their motivation, this is not ok and we all have a responsibility to tell them so, immediately and in person as well as later in the media or wherever. Standing up to a racist, a moron or a bully of any kind in person is terrifying but we have to do it or they win. There are more of us than there are of them – we do hold the balance of power if we exercise it.

  3. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

    The sad fact is that the majority of West Ham fans did and said nothing yesterday. That is why the club (well, fans at least) is different to many. As a season ticket holder of another Premier League club, I have also heard the odd incidence of racism before (including aimed at Spurs) but it is jumped on so quickly by other fans that it soon goes away. Only the racist feels the fool and shrinks away in that situation.

    Well done on challenging an idiot, but the fact that only you, as a Jew, did that and the majority of non Jewish WHU fans said and did nothing is worth being just as worried about as the idiots chanting.

    • Agree 100%.
      West Ham fans seem to comfort themselves with the notion that every club has a racist following. If that’s the case then why are we not hearing of these large scale incidents every weekend? Their ‘minority’ is certainly larger than most other clubs (cue comparisons with Leeds, Millwall and Chelsea – I said most).

      Stop making excuses, stop hiding and start acting. To make a hissing noise audible in a football stadium doesn’t take 2 or 3 people. You need hundreds.

      PS. I am not a THFC supporter.

  4. Good article and agree with what you have to say. Most teams have neanderthal supporters who give their team a bad name. It’s about time that supporters show some moral responsibility in order to weed out the scum.

  5. Yes, Oli, that’s right. West Ham fans are inherently all bad, not like the honest, decent fans of all other football clubs. You see it. You know. How I admire you.
    Perhaps a witch-hunt could be organised – maybe by yourself – to stamp out these monstrous, and clearly evil, people. Why not smash the windows of their businesses and dwellings? That’ll teach them. Oh how I hate them. Well done, Oli – for having the courage to stand up and say what quite literally all of us are thinking.
    P.S. If you have any pamphlets on the subject or are organising any secret meetings to put your heroic plan into action, do let me know. Let’s stamp out these sewer-rats forever.
    Lots of love.

  6. Very well written article mate I’m West Ham through & through agree with you 100%.
    Hope we all don’t get tarred with the same brush.

  7. In response to Alans comments the majority of clubs do have an “element” I am not condoning hissing but have heard hissing at a pantomime when the “baddie” enters stage right! I have heard chants demeaning Bobby Moore, The chants at a Liverpool v Man U matches go beyond the pail, two wrongs don’t make a right and please tell us Alan what is your team! these fans were out of order and no one can deny it and the club is taking steps
    address this, the majority of West Ham fans condemn and are disgusted by this behaviour yet a lot of fans of other clubs ignore it.

  8. Phil Whelans, that is not what I am saying at all. And I suspect you know that.

    For a start, I am not saying all WHU fans are bad. Far from it. It was clearly a minority o f idiots and I don’t know one WHU fan personally who is not furious as these minority of idiots themselves. Just as I would swiftly condemn the idiots following my club who have sung Hillsborough songs. And I don’t mean the ambiguous ones that the media jumped on, I mean the real fools who think a chorus of ’96 was not enough’ is a good song.

    However, fans at different clubs have different cultures. They are not all the same. For example. Were you as shocked that a Leeds fan ran on and punched a keeper as if it had been a Fulham fan? I wasn’t, the simple fact is that you expect it more from some than others. even though most Leeds are not hooligans, and Fulham have some who could have done it too.

    I know loads who go to West Ham. None of them pretend the anti Semitic stuff doesnt go on. All say is worse in the pubs than in the ground. None say it gets challenged by the majority of fans who probably find it despicable. I can only go on their own words. And I can then compare to what happens when I’ve heard similar idiots pipe up in other crowds, and seen them slapped down by their own quite quickly.

    So no, that is not a cause for a witch hunt and not a reason to label all WHU fans evil. But I do hope high profile issues like this mean the the silent majority start to sort this out with self policing. There will always be some idiots in any crowd, but leaving them idiocy unchallenged is not on.

  9. Jon Perez, spot on. The silver lining today is seeing the condemnation by most WHu fans.

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