Footballer and ‘rapper’ find out whose lives really matter

Tom Pope (above left) scoring for Port Vale against Manchester City in January 2020

Footballer Tom Pope has been banned for six matches by the Football Association – not for any offence committed on the field, nor for misuse of drugs, nor for anything remotely criminal.

His offence was to post something deemed ‘anti-semitic’ on Twitter.

Readers should understand that Tom Pope is not one of the multi-millionaire class of Premier League footballers. He has made his career at humbler levels of the English game, with 274 appearances for his present club Port Vale, in League Two – the old Fourth Division – scoring 90 goals and three times voted Port Vale’s Player of the Year.

Tom Pope is a long way from being a ‘famous’ footballer, but he has a cult following within a tiny subculture of the game – mainly among Port Vale fans, who are not numerous.

In January this year Tom Pope scored in one of Port Vale’s few ‘glamorous’ matches, an FA Cup tie against England’s wealthiest club Manchester City, who predictably won 4-1.

A jocular Twitter exchange after the match led one fan to ask him to “predict the World War III result”, to which Pope replied: “We invade Iran then Cuba then North Korea then the Rothchilds (sic) are crowned champions of every bank on the planet.”

Tom Pope’s offending ‘tweet’ for which he has now been fined and banned by the English Football Association.

The circumstances (and the typing error) showed that this was semi-jocular banter rather than premeditated ‘anti-semitism’, and indeed nothing about Jews or Judaism was mentioned.

However the thought police were soon on the case. This week an FA disciplinary panel convicted Pope of an “aggravated breach” of FA Rule E3 – “bringing the game into disrepute”.

One “aggravating” factor was that Pope had failed to accept that his post was “anti-semitic”. In his defence he had told the panel that he had watched hundreds of videos about 9/11. “He explained that he found the videos convincing in predicting the invasions of four countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Sudan. He believed, based on those videos, that the Rothschild banking business had funded the invasions of those eight countries so as to be able to take over their banks.”

Though the FA has never claimed that Pope held “anti-semitic beliefs”, its judgment argued that “the ordinary reasonable person knows very well that the Rothschild family have been used for centuries as a synecdoche for the Jewish people – maligning the family in discourse in order to malign all Jewish people.”

They added: “It is of particular concern that even now Mr Pope does not acknowledge the antisemitic message that is conveyed by the Statement. It is also of concern that he has not seriously questioned the conspiracy theories that he has allowed to inform his views.”

Consequently in addition to his six-game ban Pope was fined £3,500 and ordered to complete an “education course” – i.e. at the age of almost 35 he is being forced to undergo a brainwashing course in establishment definitions of ‘antisemitism’.

In a now-deleted ‘tweet’, Jeremy Corbyn thanked ‘Wiley’ for supporting Labour during last year’s election campaign.

Also in the news this week for Twitter ‘anti-semitism’ is the rapper known as Wiley (real name Richard Cowie), whose art will be little-known to H&D readers but who is “considered a key figure in London’s grime music scene”.

This acclaimed “Godfather of Grime” was awarded an MBE for his “services to music” in 2018 – perhaps a desperate effort by Theresa May’s Conservative government to win some credibility among young urban blacks and their fellow-travellers – though he endorsed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in last year’s election.

During recent weeks ‘Wiley’ has made several posts to his now-suspended social media accounts, comparing Jews to the Ku Klux Klan (on the basis that both Jews and the KKK supposedly exploit blacks), and calling Jews “cowards” and “snakes”. So far as one can make out, his politics seem to be a version of the usual ‘victim game’, by which everyone else in the world – Europeans, Arabs and Jews included – is responsible for Africans’ misfortune.

What ‘Wiley’ fails to recognise is that in this ‘victim game’, one set of people (not blacks) will always hold the ultimate trump card. He has entered an auction that he can’t win, but where he will nevertheless have to pay.

‘Grime artist’ Wiley is in trouble for ‘antisemitism’.

Unlike Tom Pope, it seems that there is a prima facie case against ‘Wiley’ under Britain’s race laws, and police are investigating. The Zionist lobby group Campaign Against Antisemitism (who were behind the prosecution and jailing of London Forum founder Jez Turner) are petitioning the government to withdraw the rapper’s MBE, and he has been dropped by his management company.

Needless to say, even this is not enough. Leading Zionist campaigners including Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard are staging a 48-hour boycott of Twitter this week, writing: “You refuse to act against Jew hate. You enable the likes of @WileyCEO to spread their poison.” The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis also joined the Twitter boycott.

Even the Home Office and the Prime Minister’s office have joined in the kvetching, with Downing Street spokesmen saying this afternoon that social media companies must “go much further and faster in removing hateful content”.

And here of course is the real issue. While mainstream conservative parties on both sides of the Atlantic depend heavily on Facebook (in particular) to manipulate voters’ minds – including playing subtle games with racial politics – they are determined to censor anyone using social media to ask radical questions. Hence they seize on the likes of Tom Pope and ‘Wiley’, so as to justify a broader purge.

Is Rangers F.C. Still a Loyalist Club?

Many (Glasgow) Rangers FC fans have been moaning on various internet social media forms (Facebook, Twitter, Telegram etc.) that Rangers are no longer a “Loyalist club” and have “sold-out to political correctness”, because all of their players “took the knee” in support of the extreme-left wing group Black Lives Matter (BLM) before their friendly game against Lyon, in France last week, with a couple of players even giving the Communist/Republican/Black Power salute!

Rangers players surrender to ‘Black Power’ before a recent friendly match against Lyon.

Rangers official Graham Provan, responded to the many supporters who disagreed with the clubs new liberal-PC stand by saying –

“So proud of Rangers for doing this and weeding out all the racist scum in our support. Why people think this is political is beyond me. I thought our support was better than that but clearly not. Thank you for doing this and standing up for what is right.”

However, those who know their “Rangers history” should remember that Rangers started to cut their ties with the Ulster Loyalist/Protestant cause way back in 1987, when the club turned down (for the first time) the Orange Order’s request to host its annual religious service at Ibrox. And it was then that steps began to remove the vendors of Loyalist/Orange literature, merchandise and paraphernalia from the areas directly around the Ibrox on match days. In fact, Rangers teams of the past had actually gone to Ulster, there to raise funds for the Orange Order!

Two years later in 1989, Rangers under new manager Graham Souness, signed Mo Johnston, a Catholic who had previously played for their arch-rivals Celtic) and as they say the rest is history.

Back in the May-June issue (#60) 2014 of Heritage and Destiny magazine we published an article/review written by Gil Caldwell of a book entitled We Don’t Do Walking Away, The Incredible Inside Story of a Season in the Third Division. For those interested in the debate as whether or not Rangers is still a “Loyalist club”, this article is well worth reading again.


Goodbye to Hello Hello?

Gil Caldwell reviews We Don’t Do Walking Away, The Incredible Inside Story of a Season in the Third Division – by Lisa Gray.
Published by Black and White Publishing Ltd, 2013. ISBN 978-1-84502-635-6 (Paperback). Available for £8.00 from Black and White Publishing, 29 Ocean Drive, Edinburgh, EH6 6JL or online at www.blackandwhitepublishing.com

The tale of Glasgow Rangers’ descent into the lowest, Third Division, of Scottish football and subsequent emergence, thereafter, is a fascinating and, often, an inspiring story. There are, actually, two stories here. One, with an appeal to those with legal and financial minds, is that of the team going into receivership and having to fend off a host of legal and monetary problems. These problems were not of the superficial sort – nor are they, as of yet, completely alleviated. There was a time that the “Gers” were in danger of ending their very existence, which had commenced in March of 1872. The other narrative focuses on the efforts of supporters, players and managers to keep Rangers’ successful identity afloat in the far from glamorous environs of lower tier football.

It is this latter saga which is the focus of Rangers FC: We Don’t Do Walking Away: The Incredible Inside Story of a Season in the Third Division. Essentially, this is the diary of a journalist who attended all the matches, home and away, league and cup, throughout the 2012-2013 season.

However, this is not simply the account of a football season, albeit with the twist of a high-level team competing at a level significantly below them. It is also of some socio-political and religious note. Rangers, have for most of their years, been associated with the Protestant faith and the political cause of Loyalism or Unionism, a cause which has spanned the past century with its focus moving from opposing Home Rule prior to the First World War to preserving the Protestant/British identity of Northern Ireland at present. Underlying all these disputes is the question of religious/cultural/national essence. Does one identify with Protestantism and hence with Britain or with Catholicism and therefore with the Republic of Ireland? Does one wave the Union Jack, the Red Hand of Ulster, St. Andrew’s Cross (with or without inserted Red Hand) or the Irish Republican tricolour?

The reader should keep in mind that the days when this was primarily a conflict of religious doctrine have largely faded. To the extent that Rangers and, their fierce opponents, Glasgow Celtic, represent communities, these are no longer, primarily, orthodox faith communities, professing divergent views of transubstantiation, Papal infallibility, salvation by faith or works or any of the questions, major or arcane, of Christian dogma, which animated Europeans since the Reformation. Rather, we must realize that this, and, to outsiders, somewhat peculiar conflict lies in the hazy realm where religious differences long ago created a gap which is today, almost uniformly, cultural and political. Of course, much of that culture divide makes reference to battles and ideas steeped in religion.

(A brief digression – To a small degree the formerly religious conflicts have been translated into a modern idiom. The covenantal aspects of much of Protestant thought yields a certain modern anti-authority vibe, which might manifest itself in disdain for the supposed subservient (to clergy) nature of Catholics. Many lay Protestants will offer as part of their anti-catholic clichés, their belief that Catholics obey Papal teaching in all areas of life whereas Prods think for themselves. Although an alluring mythology, the notion that Catholics, in other than microscopic numbers still submit to Roman teaching in areas such as birth control and the like is about as true as the notion that a robust Calvinism has nothing to command about bedroom behaviour.)

To those far removed from the history of these struggles, their current fierceness seems surprising and, at this late date in the history of European man, a bit anachronistic. As an American racialist once said to me, “Shouldn’t they all be more concerned with massive non-white immigration and political liberalism?”

In fact, if we may dwell for a moment on whether the feuding supporters really are of differing genetic stock it is worth noting that Scotland, Northern and Southern Ireland are all a part of the areas which at one time spoke a dialect of Gaelic. As to whether the invasion and conquest of what was to become England by Germanic and Scandinavian tribes (Angles, Saxon, Jutes, Frisians etc.) has yielded a somewhat different genetic source for the English is an intriguing question debated among geneticists. But leaving such scholarly matters to the academicians, for the layman, the inhabitants of the once United Kingdom seem largely the same racially, although greatly divided culturally and historically.

(One last point before we proceed, there was and is a school of “radical nationalism”, unable over the years to garner much support, which would like to focus on an Ulster culture which goes beyond the religious divide and seeks complete national independence for that troubled province.)

So, although to racialists of other lands, this conflict may seem like a “fine mess” (as Oliver Hardy used to say to Stan Laurel), to those involved it strikes to the core of their identity and collective memory. If, as racialists assert, that it is moral, healthy and, generally a good thing to have a group identity, then for Rangers/Celtic worlds the question of being a Billy or a Tim should always be part of who one is.

Over the decades the Rangers-Celtic rivalry, known as the “Old Firm” (a cynical view of the rivalry seeing it primarily as a business, dating back to the late nineteenth century) has featured not only a fierce clash of identities, spilling over, time and again, into low level violence, but also features the two best football clubs in Scotland by far. And, although a few of the other teams, of what is now the Scottish Premiership, have had their years or periods of success, at the end of the day, the highest level of competition has always been that of Rangers and Celtic. Each of these teams has had great success in Scotland in both league and Cup play and each has seen moments of glory in Europe. As part of the current self-perpetuating dominance of wealth in football, Rangers and Celtic have built upon their on the pitch talents to acquire the money needed to purchase enough skilled players to maintain their dominance.

Thus, it was a seismic shock when it was revealed in the spring of 2012 that Rangers was deeply in arrears and had engaged into several forms of financial deceit to keep themselves afloat. Faced with the prospect of quite literally going out of business, the players (well, more accurately some of the players), the fans and former Rangers star, now manager, Ally McCoist resolved that the team would not go under. As noted above there is a legal/financial story here as well, but our concern will be the soul of Rangers, not its pocketbook.

Loyalist banners have for generations been a traditional feature of Glasgow Rangers matches

When asked, shortly after the news of Rangers’ bankruptcy became public, as to whether he was going to resign, McCoist was quoted, in words that have since become a rallying cry, “This is my club, the same as it is for thousands and thousands of Rangers supporters, and we don’t do walking away.” So, Rangers’ supporters now had a phrase to add to WATP (“We Are the People”). In short order, a graying Rangers’ fan, surrounded by two stuffed bears clad in tartan light blue, would set the phrase to a lively tune on YouTube which tens of thousands would watch.

When the dust had cleared, before the 2012-2013 season had begun, the Scottish Football League members voted 25-5 to punish Rangers by dumping them into the Third Division. Whether this was an appropriate decision or simply the settling of some old scores is best left to future researchers, but the decision was final. In the coming football season, the once mighty Glasgow Rangers would be facing the likes of Annan, Elgin, Berwick (also “Rangers” by the way), Montrose, Stirling Albion. Of the ten teams on this level, only two had stadiums capable of seating over five thousand (Rangers being one of them) and five could not fit four thousand.

The season proved remarkable in several ways, all which are discussed in full in Gray’s book. First, Rangers’ supporters, in fact, did not walk away. They continued to fill Ibrox, as in years past, and did, indeed follow the squad “anywhere” and “everywhere”. Second, although the Third Division managements and their supporters proved most hospitable and savoured the experience, their players proved, almost always, surprisingly competitive. Eventually, Rangers triumphed over both strange environs and inspired opponents to finish first and secure promotion to Division Two. Third, this being the age of Political Terror and Thought Control, Rangers found themselves, even in the relative obscurity of Division Three, twice embroiled in accusations of “sectarianism” and “racism” by rival supporters and ownership, respectively.

We have now arrived at the second focus of this essay. Over almost every contemporary telling of Glasgow Rangers’ history hovers the ogre of the dreaded “sectarianism”. For example, even in the feel good, lavishly illustrated table top history of the team Rangers: The Official Illustrated History by Lindsay Herron, we read concerning Rangers and Celtic: “The religious divide gives the fixture a dimension that few intra-city rivalries have, but the hatred and bitterness it has engendered is undoubtedly unwanted in modern society.” (We ignore for now the implication that “pre-modern” society either would have been okay with these “hatreds” and, thus, evil or, alternatively, just not yet properly enlightened by the wisdom of modernity. This is a fundamental problem for those who accept the feminism, homophilia and multi racialism of the present as irrefutable dogma, what are they to think about their own immediate and long ago, ancestors? Were they all evil folks? Were all the ancestors of European Man, even as recently as WWII, evil chauvinists, homophobes and racists?) The trendy cliché of “sectarianism”, which lacks even a workable definition, as all similar words employed by the Political Terror that dominates the public forum today, is forever without clear explanation. What might it possibly mean? It is arguable that it is precisely the loose definition of these words of social control which enables our would-be Mind Controllers to use them whenever and wherever they wish. Nonetheless, despite the lack of a lucid definition, powerful forces, in media and government were and are on a mission to do away with the demon of “sectarianism”.

An early victory in the move to soften Rangers identity came in 1989 when the team, under new manager Graham Souness, signed Mo Johnston, a Catholic who had previously played for Celtic, to a contract. (Although, in point of fact, other Catholics, less overt in faith or stature, had played for the team, Johnston was the first public signing in recent memory.) For decades the club had an unwritten rule to employ only Protestants. This was now to be viewed as a great evil and its eradication as a long-awaited triumph for righteousness.

A Belfast mural commemorates the long traditional association between Glasgow Rangers FC and their Ulster brothers.

Yet, if we turn back the clock a bit further, one discovers that the move to sever the link of Rangers to its cultural and historical roots had begun before the Johnston signing. It was in 1987 that the club management turned down for the first time the Orange Order’s request to host its annual religious service at Ibrox. And it was then that steps began to remove the vendors of Orange literature and paraphernalia from the areas directly around the Ibrox. In its past, Rangers teams had actually gone to Ulster, there to raise funds for the Order.

In fact, at one of these benefit matches held on 10 May 1955 to help pay for improvements on the Sandy Row Orange Lodge in Belfast, the game program featured the following rhyme, from an anonymous “Orange Poet”.

To guard the faith which Luther preached
The rights which William won
The Orangeman relies upon
His Bible and his gun.

(We leave aside whether the “faith which Luther preached” would please the true Presbyterian believer of Scotland or Northern Ireland with his consubstantiationist view of the Eucharist. Whether to follow Zwingli or Calvin on this is a question which, one suspects, intrigues Rangers supporters far less than memories of the 1972 European Cup Winners Cup win.)

Similar ventures in poetry will not be printed in Gers’ programmes today, to be sure.

But was it really the case that the old Rangers identity was evil? Would it be considered a moral crime for a black or a Muslim to wish to employ his co-racialists or co-religionists? I am not an expert in this field, but my initial research has yielded that a Muslim is actually required to employ a Muslim, whenever possible, over a non-Muslim. Do not the same Mind Controllers, who spent decades defaming Rangers, encourage group identity for non-whites and Jews? In fact, the Orthodox Jewish law actually commands Jews to employ and patronize their fellow Jews. Is this wrong? May a man not grant first allegiance to family, kin, community, and ethnicity? One begins to think that it is only certain identities that must never be asserted.

Why can’t a team be part of a larger community? Why may a team not have a cultural identity?

Rangers today seek to render the soul of their supporters as antiseptic and arid as possible. The attempt to offer, over the tannoy, the meaningless Penny Arcade and the, more touching, but still identity-less, Blue Sea of Ibrox in place of many “forbidden” songs of the past is the culmination of this process. In fact, even the seemingly innocent Simply the Best (of Bonnie Tyler and later Tina Turner fame) has slowly been shelved due to the supporters’ proclivity to curse the IRA and the Pope via their own creative chorus response. Indeed, many of the most fervent of young Gers supporters these days seem content to wave vapid blue based flags as opposed to the Red Hand, St. Andrew’s Cross and Union Jacks which all flowed on terraces of the past.

(Let us pause here a moment to ponder the two just mentioned cursings. Is it wrong for a Protestant to wish the IRA ill? Would UEFA punish Israelis cursing Hamas? An organization, which has clearly espoused terror against innocents to achieve political power might seem to be a just recipient of its victims’ hatreds. As to the Pope, well, if one accepts the Reformation view of the Papacy as a monstrous error of doctrine which confused the Christianity of millions for over a thousand years, shouldn’t it be justly resented, especially when this errant dogma was often forced upon Europe by physical coercion? Granted that today’s Rome is a far cry from what once was, but must a people abandon its past pain just because political commissars demand it? More on this soon.)

In recent years, Rangers’ management, as much of the European world, has been called to task by our Mind Controllers. And, following in the footsteps of Mayor Lundy, they too have surrendered. Witness this subservient excerpt from the Wee Blue Book Season 06/07. “What the UEFA directives have done is to make us examine our own traditions and make us more determined to celebrate them in a . . . disciplined manner . . . Please support all the initiatives which celebrate our heritage and culture in a colorful and progressive way.” Specifically, the book demands “sing the songs in the Wee Blue Book” and “Display your legitimate flags and banners.”

The original Bridgeton Billy Boys

What exactly did UEFA say in 2006? Well, among other matters, they proclaimed, “The Billy Boys is associated with an attitude that is strongly sectarian and thus discriminatory” and “the singing of the Billy Boys is prohibited.” What is this horrible song with its “sectarian” and “discriminatory” words?

The music of this evil song was actually composed by an American, Henry Clay Work in 1865. He also wrote its lyrics. However, its title at that time was Marching Through Georgia, and it celebrated the barbarous march of Union General William Sherman across the southern state of Georgia in 1864 to capture the coastal city of Savannah. The pillaging of Sherman’s troops has long been regarded with shame on both sides of the Civil War, but in particular it was regarded with horror in the south. Nonetheless, in the revenge filled aftermath of that terrible war, it became quite popular in the north.

This is a frequent occurrence in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, as many songs of America’s first century, military, folk and religious have been freely shipped back and forth from the colonies to their Mother Country and vice versa. Not a surprising exchange as the early peoples of the United States were largely from UK stock.

I leave to Rangers historians, of greater acumen than I, to determine at what point the song became the Billy Boys. Common wisdom has it that the “Billy” referred to Billy Fullerton, leader of The Protestant Club in 1930s Glasgow and devoted, as its membership card had it, “to uphold King, Country and Constitution . . . and to defend other Protestants.” Glasgow had many clubs (some called them “street gangs” in that era) and the need to defend one’s co-religionists was no idle matter. Interestingly enough, Fullerton was also a member of Rotha Linton-Orman’s British Fascists during the same period. Others have tried to argue that the Billy means King William of Orange and it was just coincidental that Fullerton was also a “Billy”. Whatever the truth may be the song became a terrace favourite.

It actually has fairly long lyrics with references to the 12th July, “no surrender” and the like, but it is the rousing chorus which really caught on. Here are the offending lyrics:

Hello, Hello, we are the Billy Boys
Hello, hello you’ll know us by our noise
We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood
Surrender or you’ll die
For we are the Bridgeton Billy (alt. Derry) boys.

There are others forbidden tunes such as No Pope of Rome, and The Famine Song, but we will focus our attention on the above lyrics, seeing as almost all major Rangers football victories up till recent years have been accompanied by rousing renditions of this tune. (See the YouTube clip “Rangers Fans Incredible Support Rocks Old Hampden Park” for a brief clip of what used to be.) And now it has fallen as silent as did the Old Orange Flute once “Bob Williamson married Brigit McGinn”.

The legend of Billy Fullerton features on many items of Rangers memorabilia

Whether to demonize these anti Catholic manifestations of Rangers identity depends, at root, on what a people’s identity may rightfully be?

Let us turn to the Bible a bit on this subject. The ancient Hebrews were first exiled by the Babylonians in 587 BC. Thereafter, we read in the 137th Psalm, “O daughter of Babylon thou are to be destroyed. Happy shall be he that repayeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall be he that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock.” Or, ponder this from Psalm 79, which sounds positively sectarian: “Pour out Thy wrath upon the nations that know Thee not, And upon the Kingdoms that call not upon Thy name.” Similarly, we find in Lamentations 3:66 concerning the Gentiles who waged war against the Hebrews, “Pursue them with anger and destroy them under the Heavens of the Lord.”

Does the above mean that contemporary Hebrews, or Christians who accept the Old Testament, desire to literally smash all Babylonian children’s heads against rocks? No more so than did the thousands who used to assemble on the terraces at Ibrox or Hampden Park wished to actually stride through a deep stream of Catholic blood. And no more than did American abolitionists or 1960s black civil rights’ workers in America who sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic really want to “loosen” upon all white southerners “the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword” or desire that the Lord’s “heel” should “crush” them all.

These are songs of identities and causes, which in time of physical battle may be meant literally, but usually are simply the way a people recalls its buffetings, triumphs and hopes in history. To this day Jews recite the above quoted portions of the Bible at the Passover service. Does this mean that all Jews are vicious folk, chomping at the bit to launch wars of total destruction? Of course not. It means simply that they are a people with a long memory, who cherish their history and are not going to forget those who caused their suffering in the past.

Our Mind Controllers wish that all men (well, all European men, at least, others are called upon to have long and often bitter memories!) should forget their pasts and despise their ancestors. To the degree that they can commercialize football and reduce to the level of entertainment, they will have succeeded in their plan to destroy the faiths and identities of the heritages of Europe.

The struggle of Glasgow Rangers to climb out of the nether reaches of Scottish football and their supporters’ continued loyalty has been an inspiration around the world. It is a shame that this glorious saga must be hampered by censors and Mind Controllers. When and if the day comes that Europe casts off its chains, the walls of Ibrox and, yes, Parkhead as well, will be in full throttle celebrating their past, present and future. And, if the price to be paid for this was and will yet be the singing of tunes that once displeased our current commissars, then, well, so be it.

Gil Caldwell, Trenton, New Jersey

Editor’s Note: After this article was submitted, I checked Andrew Davies’s book City of Gangs: Glasgow and the Rise of the British Gangster, which seems to conclusively prove that “Billy” refers to King William and that the name was used before Billy Fullerton joined the group. The book has many pages on the subject of the original Billy Boys, including the fact that the song itself was actually sung in the streets of Glasgow as early as the 1920s.

Millwall and Blackburn fans contest election

Millwall - Willow Winston

An election that has been otherwise tedious (so far) is enlivened by two candidates representing fans of Millwall and Blackburn Rovers, contesting otherwise safe Labour constituencies.

In Lewisham East, the candidate is a 72-year-old female artist, Willow Winston: not exactly the Millwall stereotype! Her campaign is prompted by a very dodgy relationship between the local Labour establishment and an offshore company behind the ‘New Bermondsey’ regeneration scheme, which threatened Millwall’s stadium The Den. The scheme is already under scrutiny by an independent inquiry under Lord Dyson, former Master of the Rolls.

While in Blackburn candidate Duncan Miller represents the long-running ‘Stop Venkys’ movement, opposed to the Indian poultry dynasty (a sort of subcontinental KFC) who took over Blackburn Rovers in 2010. The once proud Lancashire club – Premier League champions as recently as 1995 – was recently relegated to the third tier of English football.

Venkys' ownership of Blackburn Rovers has been a disaster from day one.

Venkys’ ownership of Blackburn Rovers has been a disaster from day one.

There are a couple of precedents for football fans engaging in electoral politics to air grievances concerning their local clubs.

At the 1999 Hamilton South by-election, Stephen Mungall saved his deposit with 1,075 votes (5.5%) on a platform Hamilton Accies Home, Watson Away. (The local club Hamilton Academicals was at the time homeless, having sold its stadium in 1994, and many fans blamed major shareholder Jim Watson.)

This campaign predated the Electoral Commission and associated legal requirements for parties to register their names and descriptions – so the Accies candidate was able to stand as an independent and put the above description on the ballot paper.

That option is not available for this year’s Millwall and Blackburn candidates, who will appear just as ‘Independent’ on the ballot paper and will have to rely on their campaign literature and publicity to make an impression on voters.

One group of fans did manage to register their own party just over a decade ago. The Seagulls Party was created by fans of Brighton & Hove Albion to campaign against their local council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a new stadium. Edward Bassford of the Seagulls Party polled 21.9% in a Lewes council by-election in August 2006. The following year the party effectively won its campaign, when central government overturned the local council’s decision and stadium development went ahead. Long since dissolved, the Seagulls Party saw its ultimate triumph with Brighton’s promotion to the Premier League this year.

P.S.:
An H&D reader reminds us that in 1987 the well-known Portsmouth football ‘firm’ 6.57 stood a general election candidate in Portsmouth South. Marty ‘Docker’ Hughes polled 455 votes (0.8%).  ‘Docker’ Hughes died in July 1992: friends have ever since sponsored a memorial race at Fontwell Park and (latterly) Goodwood.

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