'The time for denial is over'
Blame shifts away from Liverpool’s fans, plus the rest of our weekly briefing
Dear readers — we hope you enjoyed the long weekend. This week’s briefing carries an important update about the attempts to smear Liverpool fans after the Champions League Final. We also feature a great piece about how University of Liverpool research has inspired an urban gardening project in London, two Irish film screenings at FACT and an extremely viral haunted chair on Smithdown Road…
Our weekend read was a fascinating piece about the enduring myths of the infamous Stone Roses gig in Widnes in 1990. Gareth Lloyd writes: “Spike Island has been called everything from a ‘shambolic mess’ to ‘Woodstock for the Baggy generation’, its legacy repeatedly rewritten with each passing year; the picture becoming more vivid and vague at the same time.” In case you missed it, read that piece here.
⛅️ This week’s weather
The big story: The exoneration of Liverpool’s fans in Paris
Top line: “The time for official denial is over, the time for apologies must be imposed,” says Richard Bouigue, deputy mayor of the 12th arrondissement of Paris. European football governing body UEFA, the French government and the police are now on the defensive about what happened after the Champions League final, and journalists who have been fact checking the fake ticket claims (that suggested Liverpool fans were to blame for the chaos) have found them to be largely bogus.
Fact check: It was suggested by France’s interior minister Gérald Darmanin at a news conference last Monday that 70% of tickets (between 30-40,000) were fake and that this was the “root cause” of the chaos, which saw Liverpool and Real Madrid fans being pepper sprayed by French police in a near crush at the turnstiles. A New York Times investigation has revealed the exact number of fake tickets was 2,589. This is three times higher than the usual number of forgeries at a UEFA match, but significantly lower than Darmanin’s claims.
Preconceptions about Liverpool supporters seem to be part of what was driving the heavy police response and the immediate stance from the French government. Sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra suggested at a hearing in front of the French senate law committee last Wednesday that Liverpool fans posed “a very specific risk” to public safety, but didn’t expand on what she meant.
Some context: In The Construction of Images of People and Place: Labelling Liverpool and Stereotyping Scousers, politics lecturer Philip Boland writes that when the League Cup and FA Cup were hosted in Cardiff while Wembley Stadium underwent refurbishment between 2000 and 2006, there was a “signiﬁcant degree of social stereotyping, albeit with a comic bent. On several occasions friends of this author mischievously suggested they were planning to park their cars in the nearby city of Newport to avoid criminal damage, predicted rising crime levels in Cardiff city centre with ‘Scousers in town’ and not forgetting the almost incessant mimicking of ‘calm down’.”
Bottom line: UEFA’s independent inquiry is expected to be published online in the coming months. Phil Scraton, who wrote the definitive account of the Hillsborough tragedy, has said the UEFA inquiry into the events cannot be considered independent as UEFA was the principal governing body, saying: “The public, particularly football fans, will always be sceptical after the police reconstructed evidence in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. What is significantly different today is the mass of evidence on thousands of mobile phones.”
Your Post news briefing
Steve Rotheram is proposing £2 single ticket fares for adults and freezing the young people’s MyTicket at £2.20 until 2025, subject to an agreement with bus operators in a meeting on 10th June. Earlier this year, local leaders voted for bus franchising as the preferred way of running the city region’s bus network, undoing the deregulation under Thatcher’s government. Go deeper with our analysis of whether the combined authority can deliver its promises to make buses better and cheaper under a future franchising system (the counter-argument comes from a former Stagecoach executive who represents bus operators, who says: “It’s all about ‘we need someone to pay for it’. It’s all promises made on government funding.”)
The coroner who ruled neglect on the part of Warrington Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital for the death of Katie Wilkins, a 14-year-old girl with leukaemia, has prepared a prevention of future deaths report for the Health Secretary, advising that recruitment issues played a part in Katie not seeing the right specialist when she was suffering a bleed on the brain. Katie’s parents said: “We are incredibly angry and will continue to raise this issue so that future families will not have to go through what we have.” More here.
Ellis Palmer Babe, BBC Radio Merseyside journalist and accessibility advocate, is touring the region’s football stadiums to look at disability access and explore the experiences of disabled fans. He begins with Tranmere Rovers, looking at the provision of spaces for wheelchair users, ticketing issues and how we can make stadiums welcoming for all fans: “Going to the ground as a disabled fan, I’m always a bit nervous about having to hold it in in case the toilets are not accessible. But in terms of the disabled toilets here, there are two at the top of the ramp and they are reasonably spacious.” Listen here.
“It feels like people are counting on it as the saviour of the area. I feel like that — we’re waiting for it,” Gary Usher, a chef who owns a bistro in Prescot, says ahead of the opening of the Shakespeare North theatre in Knowsley. The FT reports that a Manchester-based real estate agency has been inundated with inquiries about commercial property lets in Prescot, and a number of new pubs and bars in the area credit Shakespeare North as a reason for opening. Shakespeare North opens 15th July.
Sixty one Jubilee parties were approved by Liverpool’s council over the long weekend, a relatively low number for a big city, but one counter-argument suggests that anti-monarchist sentiment in the city might not be as widespread as we think. Writing in UnHerd, politics lecturer and Post reader Dr David Jeffery says only the Riverside constituency has net negative support for the royals, and other Liverpudlian constituencies have a net level of support of +15.
Home of the week
A 2-bedroom maisonette in Hoylake with lovely garden views is on the market for £369,995. It has a little balcony and a chandelier in the front room.
📚 It’s Warrington Lit Fest 2022 this week, a celebration of the literary scene in the North West, which features children’s activities, writing workshops and some great talks on everything from the relationship between diet culture and Christianity to how we experience conflict in our lives. View the full (free!) programme here.
🍗 A new bar called garden, opening this week, has an opening party on Friday. It’s in the North Dock area, where music venues QU A RR Y, situated under a disused railway arch, and the Invisible Wind Factory, an old warehouse reinvented into a nightclub, have also opened. It’s free entry, and includes DJs and a barbecue.
🇮🇪 If you’re new to Irish cinema, the best place to start is at FACT on Friday night, which has a double bill of two cultural documentaries. New York, Our Time leads you into the bohemian paradise of 1970s Brooklyn, while To The Moon explores our fascination and obsession with the moon.
👂 The Vibe Tribe is offering “energy healing” and “pure relaxation” through sound baths in Warrington this week. Immerse yourself in soothing, echoing waves of traditional wind and percussion instruments to release emotional blockage and achieve deep peace. It’s just £12.
🎶 A harpist is performing an arrangement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the Bombed Out Church on Sunday afternoon, against a backdrop of birdsong and possibly stormy weather. Harpist Keziah Thomas debuted at Carnegie Hall and plays principal harp for the acclaimed Covent Garden Sinfonia. Book here.
🎸 We’re looking to Future Yard this Saturday for a night celebrating Merseyside’s music scene and championing local artists. It features Furry Hug, an electronic band who once wrote a song about easy peeler oranges, funk trio Waterfront and blues-inspired band Mandëville. Book here.
‘That’s definitely something a haunted chair would say’
A great find in the Oxfam on Smithdown Road by PhD student Heather Cowan, whose tweet currently has 1.5 million shares.
Our favourite reads
A great feature in the Guardian about how London’s most crowded borough is welcoming a community allotment project and using it to provide fresh vegetables to families who need it. The project was inspired by research into the community benefits of urban gardening at the University of Liverpool, which include removing carbon from the atmosphere, regulating microclimates, encouraging pollination and restoring wildlife. A researcher said: “You get more people into a city, and then you’ve covered up all the soils for those residential buildings and you’ve not got anywhere to grow food any more. So we need to think quite creatively.”
A moving interview with footballer Clarke Carlisle in The Sunday Times, where he discusses the micro-aggressions he endured as a black man, being stopped by the police for driving a nice car and walking around in a daze in Liverpool considering suicide. “I’m wandering around thinking, ‘How would they want to find me dead, where will there be few or no witnesses, where might nobody find me? If I was a first responder, what’s a responsible way to find a dead person?’ It’s a totally warped compass.” A happy ending follows: at a Burnley v Liverpool match after one such suicide attempt, every fan in the stadium broke out into a minute of applause in support.
In a passionate piece in The Atlantic, Tom McTague argues that Liverpool FC’s rise is akin to “a kind of turbocharged Thatcherite success story”, at odds with the perceived anti-establishment and left-wing sentiment in the city. This commercialisation is emblematic of how the football world is changing, and represents a loss for those who love the beautiful game. He writes: “Loss gives a love of things as they are, a desire to hold, to protect, to conserve—even if all attempts to do so come too late… That thing was the old hierarchy, the romance and glory, of European soccer, or rather my naive belief in it.”
Gabriella de la Puente, a writer and art critic based in Liverpool, writes a very personal and moving first-person piece about her experience with POTS syndrome on her blog The White Pube. POTS affects your heart rate, breathing and can create feelings of fatigue and tiredness. Now, after a guided therapy and medication routine, de la Puente is slowly embracing the outdoors again. “I walked home. Bright red face, back dripping, roads still empty. When I got in, I took my dress off and sat in my underwear cooling down for an hour before I moved again. I had done 6000 steps, and even though I could feel the conflict in my body, I was so happy with the world just then.”
Photo of the week
Two girls in matching Burberry the day of Aintree Racecourse 2022. With thanks to local photographer Steve Curzon for the photo.
Letters from readers
Thank you so much for helping us tell the story behind our agency. Your articles are always incredible ‘Can a small agency in Liverpool get a better deal for northern writers?’, Clare Coombes
I hope others are inspired by what has been achieved. People like Clare are opening the doors of the publishing industry for so many people who would not usually get a look in. Forever grateful to be involved ‘Can a small agency in Liverpool get a better deal for northern writers?’, Ashleigh Nugent
If you’re interested in the history & culture of the Merseyside area you should ABSOLUTELY subscribe to The Post, Finn Oldfield