Published on September 15th, 2017 | by Bill

The English game’s gone but passionate Cologne fans show us we can get it back.

‘The game’s gone’ is a common phrase used by English fans when describing how utterly commercialised the sport of football has become in these shores. But until now it was hard to describe that feeling of alienation to a non-football fan. 

The press reaction to the Cologne fans for supporting their team last night vs. Arsenal however does it perfectly and poignantly and shows not only that the game has been lost to working class fans in England but also the propaganda machine that aims to keep it that way.

If you’re lucky enough to live away from the inflated London house prices and missed the fun at the Emirates last night, a reported 20,000 Cologne fans came to support their team and celebrate fan culture in what is considered the capital city of football to many Germans. Arsenal won 3-1 and there we no reports of any significant incidents. These are the facts.

So, contrast that with the reaction of gutter journalists like the Mirror’s John Cross who labelled the largely good natured festivities of the Cologne fans as ‘a shameful throwback to the hooligan days of the 1980’s’. What utter nonsense and the truth is that journalists like Cross are the throwbacks, who would struggle for a job without the Premier League money-mania enabling them to throw out click-bait with very little writing talent: the Orient Express of gravy trains. And yet, the vilification of little more than boisterous supporters fits a dark pattern going back to the Aston Villa’s FA Cup win over West Brom in 2015 which saw a non-violent pitch incursion by celebrating fans yet was ‘labelled a throwback to the dark ages’ by the BBC.

The sensationalist media don’t take any interest in fan culture until there is someone having a pee in the street (god forbid) or a turnstile being rushed. They don’t fear the relatively tiny Koln firm who may or may have not wanted a scrap last night. What they fear are the vast majority of the 20k Cologne fans who simply wanted a good time and a beer, who demand a say in how their football is run and who outright reject the English model of free market football that has royally fucked us up.

Last night was Cologne supporters rubbing our noses in the gentrification of football in the Premier League era and my god do we need it. It was also the German fans calling on English fans to step up our game and their presence in such numbers was as much a compliment as it was a slight. As Archie Rhind-Tutt suggested, this was the ‘cup final’ for the long suffering Cologne faithful and they were going to enjoy it.

Can you imagine such a joyous corteo march as the Cologne fans from the trendy new-school Arsenal supporters? Can you fuck. They’d be arguing about Wenger’s net spend while checking their financial spread betting accounts on their mobiles.

And so back to Germany where the hungover Cologne fans will be heading over the next few days.  Over there, supporters have been engaged in a widespread protest campaign over the commercialisation of the game and in protection of 50+1 fan ownership. Of course it has received zero coverage in the English press with our hacks more interested in Dele Alli’s middle finger.

In Germany too, the mainstream media has homed in on alleged Nazi salutes from an uncorroborated number of unknown fans rather than the wider issues of fan alienation which has united supporters from all over the country. This European wide ‘against modern football’  movement is the most significant issue and one we should be focusing on, uniting on a discussing as a football nation, just don’t expect sections of the English media or English football elites to assist.

The Cologne fans brought it last night and, fair play to them, please do come again.

Written for STAND, by Tom Reed

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