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A few thoughts on the poppy fuss

A lot of you might have noticed the poppy flower adorning attire of managers, broadcasters, players’ shirts etc. to mark Remembrance week. Sportsmail (or, indeed, the Daily Mail) have led this campaign to get all Premier League clubs to have an embroidered poppy on club kits. Personally, I didn’t have much of a problem with a campaign of this sort. But somewhere, this thing went wrong.

Initially Stoke and Blackburn weren’t part of this, but apparently when the Mail published names of the clubs that had signed in — casting those that hadn’t in inferior light — they joined this campaign. Three clubs — Bolton, Liverpool and Manchester United — continued to stay off this. And they may have their own reasons; United and Liverpool have spoken out about how much they have already done in their charity work etc, for the soldiers in war, and they don’t intend to be part of this. And that’s fair — it’s their own prerogative to choose to be part of an awareness drive or stay away from it.

The Manchester United spokesman said, “We are very proud of the work we do with the armed forces and we do not feel a poppy on the shirt would add to our contribution. Our staff and officials will be wearing them as usual and we are confident we are doing the right thing.”

The problem comes when the Mail article tries by way of some sort of passive-aggressive methods to prove that our clubs are disrespecting the armed forces.

In fact, Charles Sale of the Mail in his piece article openly rebuked the three clubs that didn’t choose to be a part of this campaign.

United’s intransigent and will be all the more exposed by Chelsea, their live TV match opponents on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, always making a great play of their connection with the Chelsea Pensioners on the Remembrance Sunday weekend.

Now I personally wished our clubs did wear a poppy; after all it isn’t too much to ask. But I also think acts of selflessness/charity/benevolence is a personal thing that one is entitled to opt in our out of without having to listen to self-righteous voices from outside forcing someone into doing something. So one can choose to do good in one’s own way. United and Liverpool (and of course, Bolton) have had their managers and staff wear the poppy flower and not the players. Pray, in what way are the clubs doing harm or showing disrespect to the armed forces, by not embroidering the flower on kits?

There is a difference between asking someone to be a part of a cause once, and bullying them into being a part of it if they politely refuse. The Guardian’s Marina Hyde said this best here:

After all, isn’t frothing yourself into demented indignation at the Blackburn squad’s lack of a poppy the very definition of having way too much time to indulge in fatuous rows? It’s redolent of that long-running, now mercifully expired argument about footballers not singing the national anthem in a manner acceptable to whichever Middle Englander wasn’t really watching the game anyway.

The point so often ignored is that the second world war, in particular, was fought to allow people the choice in this and many other matters. Victory meant freedom from fascism, which makes Jon Snow’s choice of words for this annual hounding of any public figure pictured without one – “poppy fascism” – particularly significant.

Indeed. To add to this nonsense we have some guff rolling out of John Terry’s lips:

“They love their football, they like to look up to us but I would like to be in their shoes and do what they do,” Terry said. “It’s great they want to do that and they are brilliant at their job. I would love to [serve], of course. Put your life on the line for the country – I would love to, but I don’t think many of us could.”

I am not one to be judging people, but this one strikes me as a little insincere. Oh I’d love to serve my country. I certainly do! Oh, then John, go on — where were you when they were drafting people for the war? I find it offensive that someone would say such a thing. Why can’t they just say stuff to the effect of I don’t think I have the courage to do what the great men and women laying their lives down for the country are doing?

A little honesty please, John.

I had to get this off my chest. Match preview will be up later.

Further reading on this subject:

The Republik of Mancunia
The Guardian



  1. gator

    7 November 2009 at 22:27

    I expect united will adhere to the status quo and in fact go one step further. They should add a full line of poppy based products to their online store and club store at Old Trafford such as opium and heroine. I cant wait till my George Best signature ball of opium comes in. 😎

  2. StuartATrueRed

    7 November 2009 at 22:32

    I think that Football clubs across the country do their bit, so what if some clubs have an embroided poppy on their shirts, and some don’t. I think what they do is enough, considering they have other charities as well that they contribute to.

  3. Gabriel

    7 November 2009 at 22:43

    Self righteous condemnation is rife in this country RR. It is quite unfortunate really, as I don’t understand how refusing to embroid poppy flowers unto a kit is disrespectful!? Worse is, now it has been printed in the media, the many ignorant folk out there will somehow take offence.

    Btw, John Terry’s comments do sound a bit insincere but we can’t really criticise, he might be speaking his true feelings.. i’m surprised he didn’t break down in tears mid-speech.

  4. Ben

    7 November 2009 at 23:03

    Surely it’s just that poppies are red, United’s kit is red… so you wouldn’t be able to see the poppy crest. So it’s just a matter of practicalities and hardly a story.

    But maybe I’m wrong, the mail is right and Manchester United are uncaring bastards who probably hate soldiers.

  5. gator

    8 November 2009 at 02:34

    @Ben: yep united dont support the troops. πŸ˜†

    Here in the US we have had to hear this shit forever. I remember during the last election Obama got a load of shit for not wearing an american flag pin on his lapel. He said that he found it an empty gesture and that his policies were his gesture of how he supported the troops. This didnt satisfy the media so he was eventually forced to wear the fucking pin on his coat to show the herded masses that he didnt hate the troops and that he wasnt a terrorist.

  6. Grognard

    8 November 2009 at 04:22

    It’s all about respect. Millions died in two world wars for the freedom that Manchester United has tomorrow to go out there and play without being forced to wear a poppy on the jersey. My God the extra weight and burden that little flower would have added to the already mountainous task ahead of us. Why would we want to take up such a massive responsibility and have to lug that burdensome flower all along the Stamford Bridge tomorrow. After all, the poppy is symbolic for those lost to battle and who are buried next to poppy fields.

    Well tomorrow the cold uncaring and disrespectful corporate entity known as Manchester United will know what it feels like to be killed in battle. Perhaps at the end of the game the thousands in attendance who have lost a loved one in war can scatter fresh poppies over the dead that will be United as they get blitzkrieged into oblivion. It’s what they deserve after such a terrible show of disrespect and corporate shame. God oh mighty how i despise the Glazer’s and everything they have brought to my beloved Red Devils. Greed, shamefulness and a lack of community conscience that reaches a new high of classlessness and shame this week. Amazes me the nerve it takes to say no to such a request but they openly decide to look like clowns and wear pink shoes and ribbons for breast cancer. πŸ™„ πŸ™„ πŸ™„

    My father fought and was wounded in World War 2. I was lucky, he survived and that allowed me to exist. I feel for those who lost family in one of the great wars who are currently fans of a team that decided to disrespect the valor and the sacrifice of those who fought and those who fell. It’s a shame. πŸ™

  7. Redrich

    8 November 2009 at 05:23

    It’s pretty quiet around here, are we all hunkering down waiting for the storm to pass??
    Get your spirits up mates, this will be a good game, and certainly more enjoyable than United struggling to find a rhythm against Bolton of Burnly.
    We’ll give it our very best shot, and unless we lay down dogs, the scoreline will be respectable.
    I hope for a win, pray for a draw and expect it to be 2-1 Chelsea!! πŸ™‚

  8. themec

    8 November 2009 at 05:31

    It makes me laugh that this MORAL BLACKMAIL comes from the Daily Mail. A newspaper that has a history of supporting fascism. I congratulate Manchester United for standing up to this form of bullying.’Don’t speak to me in that tone of voice I will not have it, especially not from YOU.
    All of this is merely a reflection of the fact that the current toll of body bags is growing in Afghanistan. I do not support the troops OR the war-mongering elites who brought about this war. This move is all about guilt-tripping any opposition to what is going on. Yet even top military people are now coming out to question this war. Saying it is not winnable.
    This is the climate that this BLACKMAIL exists in. The response should be that it is up to the individual if he wishes to wear a poppy and we do not accept coercion on these grounds. This, especially when the directive comes from a media source with a recognised historical bias to the political right.
    As for the ridiculous suggestion that the Glazers have anything to do with this, well, as far as I can see as Jewish Americans surely they would be FOR this move???!!
    Grognard you are WRONG.

    Politics and sport eh? Not a good mix but sometimes, it seems, inseparable. Has anybody seen the photograph of the England team in a pre-match line up in the 1930’s – all giving the Nazi salute?

  9. Redrich

    8 November 2009 at 05:45

    @themec: Mate, sports and politics certainly are separable and you should really not try to combine the fantasy of one with the stark reality of the other. It’s disrespectful of those that have served and of those that want to escape from such things.
    The poppy is a show of respect and not an endorsement of war!! πŸ™‚

  10. vanderberg

    8 November 2009 at 06:02

    @Grognard: Ok i respect your opinion but what about liverpool and bolton,they also told that they wouldn’t wear them 😈 . The Manager and other staff are wearing them but the players are not wearing them in the match aganist chelsea.
    regarding keepers here is an interesting read about buffon πŸ’‘ πŸ˜‰

  11. themec

    8 November 2009 at 06:04


    Fair enough but it is down to the individual to decide if he or she wants to wear a paper flower. I am not trying to ‘combine’ anything – the Daily Mail IS. Look just go to Wikipedia and type in Daily Mail. Then go to the bit where it tells you that Rothermere, the owner of the paper SUPPORTED Nazism in his newspaper up until the outbreak of the war. In recently revealed letters (2005) he was still writing to Hitler and Mussolini AFTER the war had begun! Describing what Hitler had done in invading Poland as ‘SUPERHUMAN’ and urging him to invade other countries. ALL this when our brave boys were getting killed by Nazis. It is the newspaper that he once owned that is telling people that they HAVE to honour ‘our boys’. Surely, mate, you can see the problem here?
    There is a much larger issue at stake here. That of the freedom of DISSENT. The DM is still an obnoxious, paranoid, immigrant-hating right-wing rag that is merely using this emotive issue to pressure people into supporting a CURRENT war that even other RIGHT WING people are now beginning to question.
    I repeat: I will not be spoken to in THAT TONE OF VOICE and not from this sordid and decrepit rag. GEDDIT?

  12. Redrich

    8 November 2009 at 06:26

    @themec: Well then just don’t read the Daily Mail and tell all your mates to do the same. Burn the next weeks publications in protest and use the front page to wipe your arse!!
    Get over it mate, the world is full of bullshit like this, and if I could remind you,….. we have a big game coming up!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  13. themec

    8 November 2009 at 06:45

    I don’t read the DM and neither do any of my mates. I wont burn it because that is what fascists do. I defend its right to spread its hideous agenda and wont wipe my arse on it because it’s not as good as toilet paper.
    What are you asking me to ‘get over’? A political agenda being forced onto my football team by a bunch of hypocrites? Bullshit indeed. We do have a big game coming up and it has been partially overshadowed by this utter nonsense.
    Judging from your evasive response I can only gather that you are unable to cogitate the larger issue at stake here. You really need to get over your ignorance of these important issues.

  14. Redrich

    8 November 2009 at 06:52

    @themec: I “cogitate” elsewhere mate, just not on a United blog!!

  15. themec

    8 November 2009 at 06:53

    And no amount of smiley faces is going to change that ❗

  16. themec

    8 November 2009 at 06:57

    Oh where’s that then?
    What you are suggesting is that I am not on topic right? But I am merely responding to a post put on by the owner right? As you are right?

  17. themec

    8 November 2009 at 06:59

    @redrich Are you cogitating elsewhere? Where is it???? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ Can we ALL go there? Is it nice?

  18. Redrich

    8 November 2009 at 07:04

    @themec: Look, you seem to have a major hard on about this issue, but this is not the forum for such discussion.
    I never once said I disagree with your sentiments, and if truth be known, I probably have a great deal of respect for what your trying to say, but this is a football blog, specializing in our team, Manchester United, and not a soapbox for political expression. Put it all to bed, or go somewhere else that caters for this kind of stuff!

  19. themec

    8 November 2009 at 07:11

    Don’t tell ME that. Tell The Red Ranter who RUNS this site that is called Red Rant. If YOU don’t want or can’t handle serious discussion that is raised on this site then YOU go elsewhere. You know that mythical place you told me about where you cogitate. I cogitate wherever I am. Know what I mean?
    Stop stifling debate like the DAILY MAIL.

  20. Grognard

    8 November 2009 at 07:14

    @themec: No I am not wrong mate. The Glazer’s have shown themselves to be nothing more than corporate mongers who have little concern for the fans and traditions of the team. We are not Man Utd anymore, we are “The Brand”. For the team to turn down the chance to wear poppies as a show of appreciation and respect to those who have died for our freedoms is a terrible disgrace and a crying shame. And if ti’s not the Glazer’s, then somebody with the club has seriously dropped the ball and shown tremendous insensitivity. And I couyldn’t care less about their ethnicity mate. Jewish or Martian, it’s got everything to do with doing the right thing and honoring the dead. We go way above and beyond to honor those who died in 1958 because they wore our strip but those who wore the nations strip and the nations colors and fought and died in two world wars don’t get any respect? It’s a disgrace.

    As for Bolton and Liverpool, they are in the same boat and should all carry the flag of shame for this terrible slight on freedom and sacrifice. I wear a poppy every year and I salute and say a prayer for those who died fighting and for those who were lucky enough to survive. I also do it out of respect for my father who was a loyal member of the Royal Airforce and who saw many a friend perish in bombing missions over Germany and action in North Africa and Italy. For him and those brave souls, I wear a poppy and I do not think it to be a beast of burden or something that puts me way out of my way and inconveniences me. This was a terrible PR move for three clubs who just don’t get it. Honestly, I do not know what they were thinking?

  21. Grognard

    8 November 2009 at 07:17

    @themec: I’d personally like to meet an individual who refuses to wear a poppy and find out why? Trust me, they would not survive a serious tongue lashing from me. Forgetting to wear a poppy is one thing, refusing to wear one, well that’s just disgusting.

  22. Redrich

    8 November 2009 at 07:21

    Goodnight, this is getting very silly!!

  23. Grognard

    8 November 2009 at 07:21

    @themec: We all love serious discussion mate, but about football and how it pertains to Man Utd. Politics and other topics that have no direct link to football have no business on here. I made my point because it had to do with an action by my football team. But to sit here and get all flustered and serious about a newspapers views and actions during the wart and before is just out of line. It’s not the place for it mate.

  24. Grognard

    8 November 2009 at 07:21

    @Redrich: I agree. Goodnight Red and hope we are both wrong about tomorrow’s outcome.

  25. Red Ranter

    8 November 2009 at 07:39

    @Grognard: @Redrich: The mec has a point, although I wouldn’t go as far as the roots of Daily Mail ownership.

    Look, I’m not a great fan of the Glazers. But it’s not like United haven’t honoured the forces. Every member of the staff and manager have been wearing the poppy flowers. What everyone is crying about is they are not honouring the soldiers in the way they want them to be honoured. The soldiers who’ve fought this war have fought for our freedom, and that includes being able to have the freedom to decide for oneself whether we want to wear the poppy flower or not — without being bullied by someone else. United, Liverpool and Bolton have all said that they are honouring it in their own way — who are the Daily Mail to tell us how to honour something or someone? The issue I’ve tried to highlight is about the Mail bullying us into honouring something in the way they want to be.

    I am not buying that self-righteous bullshit from the Mail. And that’s all I want to say on this subject.

    I wish United would have worn it on their players, but it doesn’t make the noises coming from the Daily Mail right.

  26. Red Ranter

    8 November 2009 at 07:46

    @Grognard: Whilst it would be disrespectful of said person if he refused to wear the poppy flower, I would still not deny him the right to do as he pleases. Bullying someone or giving a tongue lashing to someone — into forcing him to wear the poppy flower — is precisely the sort of thing our soldiers are dying to protect us from. That is, the freedom to choose to be the person we want to be without having to be told by someone else on how to behave. Freedom to be a good person, or an asshole — as long as we don’t hurt someone else.

    In this case, our club are being that person (although they’ve had their entire staff wear the flower) but nothing justifies this ideological bullying from the media.

  27. Red Ranter

    8 November 2009 at 07:50

    Call me ignorant — and I’d like people to educate me on this if they are in the know — but I find this tradition of the poppy flower (which has started only since 2002) a little ironic considering it’s the business of the poppy plant (opium) in Afghanistan that has actually funded the terrorists.

  28. Laos Red

    8 November 2009 at 08:06

    RR – Exactly…. Afghanistan is one of the biggest producers of opium. Would love to heard the logic behind the poppygate…..

  29. Traverse

    8 November 2009 at 11:48

    @Grognard: Manchester United was the first club to give free match tickets to the armed forces, and give/do the most for charity out of any club in England.

    The argument seems to be that United are disrespecting the dead. So has every every football team in the world been respecting the dead for the last 70 years for not having a poppy on their shirt? It’s a new thing (started in 2002 I think) and hardly a slap in the face… the players will be wearing them on their suits too and from the game, every member of our staff will be wearing them, and the players will not.

    Remembrance day isn’t just about the sacrifice of WWI/WWII, it’s about every war, every lost life (on both sides) and those currently serving. If the poppy appeal is about raising awareness, and getting people to ask questions then the players will be holding a minutes silence on the field that the whole world will see. I believe that is far more relevant.

    This whole ‘campaign’ is another nonsense from the Daily Racism, who presumably couldn’t think of a new Asylum seekers eating our swans/Madeleine Mccann/Princess Diana story to lead with.

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  31. Grognard

    8 November 2009 at 17:58

    @Red Ranter: Why not wear the universal symbol for respect of those who died, the poppy. Pay respects in their own way? That’s not for them to decide. There is a universal symbol for that mate, the poppy. It’s what we all recognize and so when someone decides to ignore that symbol, I for one take great exception to it. For me it’s a Hell of a lot more important than wearing a bloody ribbon to make a statement about Aids. United are dead wrong on this. Like I said earlier, where is the harm in wearing a bloody poppy? Why refuse to wear one? It’s not bulky, it’s not tacky and it’s not dangerous as one can easily be sewn on. It’s just sad and insulting and sometimes a team has to conform to society’s demands.

  32. Grognard

    8 November 2009 at 18:04

    @Red Ranter: Respect the individual but organizations do not get away with that. United as an organization must agree to wear the poppy. If certain individuals within the organization feel like not wearing it, I totally agree, they have that right although I must seriously ask the question, why wouldn’t they wear it? Man City fans have the right to heckle and scream obscenities during a moment of silence commemorating the Munich Air Disaster. The majority don’t because the majority have been brought up to know better, but there is no law that forces them to do so. Society expects certain sacrifices from us mate. They do not force us as a community to pay respects tot he fallen but they still expect us to show that respect out of common respect and human decency. Anything short of that is up for scrutiny, ridicule and criticism.

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