Beauty and the beast: Sunderland’s Wembley montage and a wriggling Tory MP

The photos above are, in the main, of passionate people who made March 2 a special day in the history of Sunderland AFC.

They are not “scumbag football hooligans”, the elegant turn of phrase chosen by Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow and a supporter of Chelsea and Harlow Town, to describe the thousands of supporters who painted Covent Garden and other parts of central London red and white on the eve of the final.

Our curry-gorging, watch-collecting dignitary rattled off this nasty little tweet:

Went to London for dinner. Wish I hadn’t. Scumbag football hooligans turn Covent Garden into a disgusting Cesspit—
Robert Halfon MP (@halfon4harlowMP) March 01, 2014

Did the police back him up? They did not. The Sunderland Echo reports warm praise for the supporters with only five arrests, four at or around the match and all of one in central London the night before. Yet thousands more, in the eloquent words of an elected politician, scumbags and hooligans. The crowds in Covent Garden – overwhelmingly Sunderland supporters – were said by officers to be “good-natured”.

And how does Halfon explain his tweet? By suddenly claiming he didn’t mean to target Sunderland supporters but was talking generally about any fans who happened to fit his grotesque description. Of course, as he must well know, the fans out on the town on Saturday were overwhelmingly Sunderland followers.

He made not the slightest attempt in his tweet to differentiate between good and (negligible handful of) bad. Instead, he steamed in with insulting, contemptuous language of which he should now be utterly ashamed.

Having made his sweeping attack, Halfon’s belated wriggling is absurd. But I will be fair enough to him to repeat what he told the Echo:

My tweet was to do specifically with the state of the area I saw and walked on, which was much broken glass and huge amounts of dropped litter in the roads. Why is it wrong of me to point that out?

I asked a police officer who told me that there were six clubs in the area. In no way was I, or did I, identify one club over another, in fact I was not sure who had actually done it other than it was people associated with football.

I specifically did not attack fans from any club but was referring only to those who had left the broken glass. It is wrong to say I have mentioned or described any fan’s from any club in the manner described.

I also make clear the distinction between genuine fans of which there are many, and have every right to enjoy themselves, and hooligans who throw and smash glass all over the road. As a football fan myself I have huge admiration for most British clubs.

That was the context of my tweet, which inevitably has been twisted or misunderstood as attacking a particular group of fans, or particular club, which was far from the case.

It really doesn’t wash when set against the snarling tone of his tweet. Methinks a Sunderland Conservative councillor Lee Martin, got it about right wrote: “Nice to see @halfon4harlowMP has labelled the 5000 Sunderland fans in Covent Garden last night scumbags and hooligans. Idiot.”

And I loved the tweet from a football writer with The Times, Tony Barrett, who posted a picture from Jan 2 with this message: “London after New Years Eve – ‘scumbag New Year revellers’ or just not enough bins?”

Salut! Sunderland has no power to force Halfon to make a public apology or to impeach or deselect him. But it can issue a challenge. It will allow him to explain himself properly, and deal with the offence he has caused, on these pages.

Another scumbag hooligan? Monsieur Salut by Matt
Another scumbag hooligan? Monsieur Salut by Matt

8 thoughts on “Beauty and the beast: Sunderland’s Wembley montage and a wriggling Tory MP”

  1. A more appropriate headline might have been “:Scumbag Tory hooligan launches unprovoked attack on Sunderland fans.”

    He’s beneath pond life.

  2. I did tweet him a question asking him how many arrest there had been that night.

    He didn’t reply and blocked me. This morning he protected his tweets, and this afternoon unprotected them. Seems social media isn’t his strong point.

    The Met’s football units did give me this on Sat night . . . . MPS Football Unit ?@MPSFootballUnit Mar 2

    Hi I can confirm that there were some arrest for Public Order offences, I dont have the exact numbers at this time however

    followed by . . . .

    the vast majority of Sunderland fans were well behaved last night.

  3. I am just back in the North East, having taken the opportunity to meet up with friends in the Midlands. I travelled down on the train from Warwick with a group of mates from the Heart of England Branch. Going there and back there were plenty of City fans who I chatted to in a much more civilised fashion than we see MPs debating in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Question Time. In the Wetherspoons by Baker Street, although predominantly red and white, fans of both clubs mixed happily together with no hint of anything other than friendly banter. The same going to and from the ground. All the police I spoke to said what an easy day they were having despite the crowds.

    I suspect that had Robert Halfon MP been at Covent Garden and experienced similar behaviour to that he alleges was the cause of his tweet, from a bunch of ex public schoolboys there for an England Rugby international, he would have posted something completely different like “great to see England Rugby fans enjoying themselves in Covent Garden – made my night.” Prat!

  4. The comparison with New Years’ Eve is very apt. Would he call the thousands turning out to have a good time ‘scumbags? Do you have to be from the north to qualify?

  5. According to the PC Brigade something doesn’t have to be intentionally offensive in order to be wrong or illegal, if someone perceives it to be offensive then it is offensive. Ask Anelka, his Quenelle gesture was not anti-semetic, but some people took it to be anti-semetic, the media publicised it, and Anelka has been punished. The media should be all over this like a rash until the appropriate body is forced to take action against this Tory bigot.

  6. You may have seen my earlier comment on the earlier post. I apologise unreservedly (something I suggest Halfwit may not) to anyone offended by my industrial language. I was just so mad that anyone could label tens of thousands of our magnificent fans as “scumbags”.

  7. Well yet another Tory Vote catching policy directed at the North East in a charm offensive guaranteed to attract friends and support at the next election.

    Perhaps he did not intend it as a charm offensive and just wanted to be offensive. Well you plastic football Chelski supporter from Harlow you succeeded in the latter.

    Foot back in the mouth you are less of a liability to the Party when you are silent

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