“And now you’re gonna believe us”, sang an enthusiastic bunch of Bristol Rovers supporters, just last Saturday, “the Gas are going up.” You’ll get no arguments from me on that one, not that I know better than anyone else whether indeed the Gas are going up. Nothing would surprise me given the enduring excellence of our young manager Darrell Clarke. I was less than impressed by one of the accompanying chants.
Now I was not there on Saturday but I know a man who was, a man I know, trust and believe, and he told me that a section of the crowd belted out a verse of “Ten German Bombers”, a favourite of the far right element who follow the England football team. This is not good enough.
Harmless? No it isn’t. It’s an extension of the tired old, dreary, cliched view many Britons hold of Germans and Germany. The idiots who sing have been known to bring along German helmets, inflatable spitfires as well as doing Nazi salutes and doing Hitler-like goose-stepping, in order to illustrate the ludicrous point they are trying to make. Add to that the tedious repetition of the Dambusters and Great Escape music, played by the England band who should be banned, and you have a situation of great embarrassment to most of us who respect and like Germany and Germans and don’t recognise what happened in the 1930s from the modern and vibrant country we see today. So why sing about it at a football match in Bristol?
What next? A return to “No Surrender To The IRA”, perhaps? Now, I am no admirer, nor supporter, of Republican or for that matter Loyalist terrorism and I am at a complete loss to understand why this subject is so relevant to people who have paid good money to watch their team play football.
Do these people imagine that the image of Adolf Hitler or Gerry Adams will motivate their players to perform even better? Perhaps they could ask Nick Day to conduct a verse or two before the teams come out? Why bother with the Rocky theme? Let’s have a verse or two about 10 German Bombers. My idea is no less ridiculous than the decision of supporters to sing about them in the first place.
If the Gas are going to go up, then the players will be best assisted by supporters singing and chanting in support, not by singing about highly charged matters from yesteryear, especially when that yesteryear was 70-odd years ago.