On Friday night I attended the Liverpool Oldham game at Anfield. I sat in the Main Stand enjoying the banter going on between the Oldham and Liverpool fans. Particularly the Oldham lot in the Anfield Road end vs the songs of the Kop. It was a great mix of rival banter and appropriate chants.
The game itself wasn’t great from Liverpool’s point of view until 28 minutes in when Simpson banged a goal past Pepe Reina amid a few mistakes made by recent signing Coates. It took the threat of going out of the FA Cup to kick the Reds into action. Two minutes later Bellamy, my man of the match (and judging by the standing ovation and rapturous applause when he came off – everyone else’s), got a lucky deflection after a Jonjo Shelvey shot. From that moment and especially in the second half it’s fair to say that Liverpool dominated the game.
After a Gerrard penalty, a Shelvey goal, a great half volley from Carroll and a well placed finish from Downing as his first goal for the club the Red’s finished 5-1.
But the game was marred by events in the second half. Oldham’s Tom Adeyemi, as you will no doubt have heard, was subject to some apparent racist chants from individuals in the Kop. Watching the game it was clear something significant had happened. I wasn’t sure whether something had been thrown at Adeyemi or something had been said. Kuyt and Gerrard were soon over to try to calm the situation. But Adeyemi kept on motioning to the Kop, something was clearly wrong. As Adeyemi motioned to the Kop, they responded immediately with boo’s. But it was then I noticed the singing. The Kop were singing of our favourite striker Suarez, understandably wanting to sing in support of him but the Oldham fans were replying with chants accusing all scousers of being racist. The true effects of the Suarez situation were coming out in the chants. It was as I looked back in the direction of Adeyemi’s gesturing that I saw a small group of fans, perhaps simply three or four, wearing the now infamous white Suarez number 7 shirts. I made the link immediately, worried that it might have been these few fans hurling racist abuse at Adeyemi – with the Suarez shirts a symbol for them.
24 hours later we hear on the news that a red’s fan present in the Kop that evening has been arrested in connection with alleged racist abuse. The question of whether it was those wearing the Suarez shirts is something that can’t be confirmed at present, but undoubtedly this event coming on the back of the last few weeks makes poor reading for football fans.
The event gave the game a bitter-sweet feeling, a great win, but unpleasant boo’s came from the Kop every time Adeyemi touched the ball for the final 10 minutes of the game. He’s was being booed because of his gestures towards the Kop, but these were understandable if he had been abused racially. At the end of the day, no player, let alone a young 20 year old footballer should be subject to racist abuse, something we desire to see stamped out of football. Unfortunately the Suarez affair, followed by this fan abuse has tarnished Liverpool’s reputation, and as the electronic advertisement boards around Anfield ironically displayed the ‘Kick it Out’ slogan, I couldn’t help but feel in the last few weeks Liverpool has taken a step in the wrong direction.