'Barbarians, Gentlemen and the Press': English Media Representations of England's Football and Rugby Union Supporters

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1 'Barbarians, Gentlemen and the Press': English Media Representations of England's Football and Rugby Union Supporters Emma Poulton University of Durham Durham, England Abstract This paper examines the English press representation of both football (soccer) and rugby union supporters, for it would appear that they have traditionally been portrayed very differently: with football supporters as 'barbarians' and rugby union fans as 'gentlemen'. These portrayals have arisen as a result of the behaviour associated with the sports' supporters and are often underscored with perceptions of class demographics. The prevailing image of English football supporters is that they are all, at least potential, 'hooligans'. By contrast, rugby union supporters share a roundly positive image, having had no history of crowd disorder or spectator violence. This paper offers some preliminary observations about the consistent attempts by the English press to demarcate rugby and football supporters, with the latter often used as a 'hooligan referent' to highlight the superior image and reputation of the former. English rugby union supporters enjoy a very different relationship with the press than their football counterparts. While they may not always conform to type of being the perfect 'gentlemen', rugby supporters certainly win the popularity contests when pitched against the perceived 'barbarians' from English football's fan-base. Introduction The title of this paper is adapted from Eric Dunning and Kenneth Sheard's (1979) classic text Barbarians, Gentlemen and Players. This seminal study provides an understanding of the development of rugby from folk games over five stages: explaining the emergence of football and the 'handling' game, then the bifurcation of the rugby codes, through to its modern 'union' and 'league' forms. According to Dunning and Sheard (1979: 3): Our title, 'Barbarians, Gentlemen and Players', is meant to convey something of the flavour of these stages, more particularly of the growing demand for orderliness and the conflicts over amateurism and professionalism which rugby experienced during the period covered by our study. This is not the concern here. Their title is employed instead, with poetic license, to shed light on the popular image of supporters of the respective codes of football (soccer) and rugby union. More specifically, the paper looks at the 66

2 Football Studies, vol. 9 no English press representation of those supporters, for it would appear that they have traditionally been portrayed differently: with football supporters as 'barbarians' and rugby union fans as 'gentlemen'. These portrayals have arisen as a result of the behaviour associated with the sports' supporters and are often underscored with perceptions of class demographics. The prevailing image of English football fans is that they are shaven-headed, beer-bellied, tattooed, drunk and disorderly young working class males, who are assumed to be potential 'hooligans' (Poulton, 2005). This is mainly owing to media representations that continuously perpetuate the convenient, but simplistic, stereotype that it itself has helped to construct. Hysterical headlines, emotive language, evocative imagery and graphic photographs all perpetuate the stereotype to illustrate the 'horror-stories' from Rotterdam, Sardinia, Stockholm, Malmo, Dublin, Rome, Marseilles, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Brussels and Charleroi over the last few decades, together with more recent incidents in Bratislava, Zurich, Sunderland and Stuttgart, each one supposedly representing the 'latest chapter in England's long and shameful history of hooliganism' (The Observer, 18 June 2000: 4). As Merrill Melnick (1986: 3) has noted: 'The mass media in general and the national press in particular take major responsibility for the public's view of the soccer hooligan as a cross between the Neanderthal Man and Conan the Barbarian'. Challenging this stereotype and line of thinking are revelations that England football supporters, and 'hooligans', are just as likely to be white middle-aged, middle-class professionals, well-dressed in designer brands like Hackett, Burberry or Prada, many with a full head of hair, no beer-belly, and none of the apparently obligatory tattoos. To confuse matters further, as Paul Hayward wrote in the Daily Telegraph (2 April, 2003: p. 5 of Sport): 'Ironically the thug's uniform is one that would not look out of place at Twickers [Twickenham Stadium]: Burberry jacket and Hackett shirt'. English football supporters are also now increasingly likely to be black, Asian, female or children. Yet reporters and columnists often struggle in their apparent quest to construct a neat typology of the modern football supporter. As John Hughson and Emma Poulton (in press) observe: It may not be stated directly in the current public discourse, but we tend to be left with the view that England fans are either yobs from the rough white urban working class, or the declasse or upper working class family supporter, the latter grouping to include women and people from ethic minorities. In contrast, rugby union supporters share a roundly positive image, having had no history of crowd disorder or spectator violence. Furthermore, as in most rugby-playing countries, rugby union in England is widely regarded as an establishment, historically amateur, sport. Many private schools and grammar 67

3 Media Representations of Football and Rugby Fans schools play rugby union, hence its association with the middle and upper classes. Rugby league, meanwhile, traditionally has the reputation of a working class, professional sport. Paul Hayward, in the Daily Telegraph (2 April, 2003: 5 of Sport), offers some further observations on rugby union and football supporters, identifying what he sees as the key differences between the respective fan bases: No one at Twickenham (nor indeed any rugby match) has ever called me 'scum' for being a journalist, or assaulted my eardrums with 'No Surrender to the IRA'. Nor have they sung 'F***-the- Pope', or 'Stand up if you hate the Scots/French/Iraqis/everybodyother-than-English'. You see the odd rugby punter puke outside a pub or wander off with a traffic cone on his head, but I've yet to see one throw a chair through a kebab shop window, greet the team with Nazi salutes, or sway down the carriage in a Paris Metro train singing 'If it wasn't for the English you'd be Krauts'. There is an old saying, attributed to Henry Blaha and his musings about rugby union, football (soccer) and American Football, that: 'Rugby is a beastly game played by gentlemen; soccer is a gentlemen's game played by beasts; football is a beastly game played by beasts'. It would appear that these descriptions of the games and their players transfer to the respective supporters of those games in much of the media discourse about them. This will be explored by means of textual analysis once some key theoretical issues have been addressed. Sports Fans and Crowd Disorder: An Overview of Key Literature The study of sports fandom, especially football fandom, as a broader social phenomenon has attracted healthy academic interest; for example, Adam Brown's (1998) collection, Fanatics! and Richard Giulianotti's (2002) study of the taxonomy of spectators as either 'supporters, followers, fans or flaneurs'. Rugby fandom, by contrast, has not. Garry Crawford's (2004) study of sports fans as consumers indexes just six references to 'rugby', only one of which relates to union, compared with thirty-three to 'football' and, significantly, a further nine to 'football hooliganism'. While there have been other studies that examine the impact of the political economy of football on supporters (e.g. King, 1998; Sandvoss, 2003), most previous research on football and its fans has looked at them in relation to football-related disorder. Indeed, the study of football-related disorder has been a focus of sociological investigation for over three decades (see for example: Marsh, 1978; Clarke, 1978; Murphy, Dunning & Williams, 1988; Armstrong & Harris, 1991; Armstrong & Giulianotti, 2001). The intention here is not to wax lyrical on the causes of such disorder, or indeed the historical longevity nor ethnographic integrity of research into the phenomenon. This has been the cause of tiresome, often acrimonious and 68

4 Football Studies, vol. 9 no antagonistic debate between conflicting schools of thought on the issue of 'football hooliganism'. Rather, the objective is to offer the first examination of the press representation of football supporters, and so implicitly the media coverage of what is popularly referred to as 'football hooliganism', in contrast to those of rugby union. For as Stuart Hall (1978: 15) noted in relation to the press reporting of football hooliganism, 'the nature and pattern of this coverage is a phenomenon worth analysing in its own right'. There have been several studies of this nature in the past (Adams, 1978; Hall, 1978; Whannel, 1979; Murphy, Dunning & Williams, 1988). More recently, the subject has been revisited by Gary Armstrong (1999), Jon Garland & Michael Rowe (1999), Mike Weed (2001), Tim Crabbe (2003), along with myself (see Poulton, 2001, 2002, 2005), but it remains a relatively under-researched area. Yet, this body of literature appears vast when compared to the negligible research undertaken regarding rugby supporters, let alone the media representation of them. English Rugby and Crowd Disorder Rugby appears to be a relatively under-researched sport, certainly in relation to football. Most studies have tended to focus on aspects of the historical development of the game (Dunning & Sheard, 1979; Collins, 1998), the impact of professionalisation (Malin, 1997; Chandler & Nauright, 1999) or the (masculine) playing culture (Donnelly & Young, 1999; Nauright & Chandler, 1996). As mentioned above, searches for literature regarding rugby union supporters, crowd disorder, or the media reporting thereof, prove unsuccessful. The simplest explanation for this is the distinct lack of significant crowd disorder among rugby fans. Reflecting on alcohol consumption among football and rugby union supporters, a popular explanation for football-related disorder espoused by the media and politicians (Dunning, 1999: 139), Tony Collins and Wray Vamplew (2002: 86) comment: When one looks at other sports, the alleged casual link between heavy drinking and violence is untenable. Although it is possible to object with comparisons with rugby union supporters on the basis that by and large soccer and rugby union supporters are drawn from different social classes, there is no indication that drinking before rugby league matches is any less than soccer, yet crowd violence is virtually unknown. Despite their claim, Michael James (2005) tells 'the untold story of hooliganism in rugby league', based particularly, though not solely, on the 1970s and early 1980s. The most widely publicised incident of 'hooliganism' in rugby league was after the Challenge Cup semi-final between Hull and Leeds at Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium on 26 March 2000 when the goal posts were hauled over during a pitch invasion. Rugby union, however, remains unscathed. 69

5 Media Representations of Football and Rugby Fans While it is hard to find academic explanations for this, Alan Bairner (2002: 18) comments of rugby union in Ireland may be applicable to England: Undeniably there have been occasional outbursts of ill temper at rugby matches in Ireland, particularly since the all-ireland league competition and the subsequent professionalisation of the game gave added significance to club rivalries. In general, however, there has been no evidence of a hooligan problem... Although some might argue that the greater physical contact involved in rugby acts as a safety valve for the fans, the main explanation for the absence of violence at rugby games in Ireland, as in many other countries, can be traced to the middle-class character of the fans. Even where cross-boarder rivalry is involved, rugby followers do not share with their soccer counterparts any sense that it is up to them to fight for the 'cause'. This does not mean that they are politically neutered but rather that their politics are customarily channelled through the constitutional process and additional sites for cultural resistance are less likely to be required. Making a direct contrast to football, Bairner (2002) alludes to issues of class in the demographic make-up of the crowd as an explanation of the absence of disorder among rugby union supporters. The causal explanations as to why there is little disorder among rugby union supporters is, however, only of interest to this paper in so far as class issues seem to underpin some of the media discourse associated with rugby and football fandom, as will be illustrated. Before moving on to examine this discourse, it seems appropriate to briefly consider England's cricket fans, since parallels and contrasts have been drawn between them and rugby and football supporters, as we shall see. English Cricket, Crowd Disorder and the 'Barmy Army' There has been evidently more research on English cricket supporters than their rugby union counterparts (Malcolm, 1999; Parry & Malcolm, 2004). Academics have also sought to consider English cricket spectatorship, including crowd disorder, in an historical context. This is summarised by Matthew Parry and Dominic Malcolm (2004: 76) as thus: 70 Early, that is 18 th -century, matches attracted large crowds (upwards of 10,000), which were rough, volatile and disorderly. Interference with play was commonplace, and riots not infrequent (Birley, 1979: 50; Malcolm, 1999, 2002; Underdown, 2000: 83-5). However, historians largely agree (Vamplew, 1980; Guttmann, 1986: 79; Sandiford, 1994: 123) that, by the mid to late 19 th century, crowds had become far more orderly and 'civilized'.

6 Football Studies, vol. 9 no Crowd disorder is now seldom seen in English cricket, unlike in for example India and Pakistan, with rare incidents like the (racially motivated) disorder at the England-Pakistan Test match at Headingley in Indeed, English cricket supporters traditionally held a rather staid and sober reputation, as a leisure pursuit of the polite applauding middle and upper classes. This reputation has, however, been turned on its head over the last decade or so. 'England's Barmy Army' was the name bestowed on a vocal and boisterous group of England cricket supporters by the Sydney Morning Herald during the winter Ashes tour of 1994/5. Parry and Malcolm (2004: 76) offer 'a tentative demography of the Barmy Army' who, they explain, 'has 'created' a style of supportership, qualitatively different to that traditionally associated with cricket'. This has involved a 'seemingly explicit rejection of both 'traditional' forms of Englishness characterised and encapsulated in cricket, and the more overtly aggressive and partisan forms of national identity stereotypically associated with football supporters' (Parry and Malcolm, 2004: 91). Parry and Malcolm's (2004: 81) concluding observations are worth quoting at length given the concerns of this paper: Barmy Army members present themselves in direct opposition to the ideological traditions of English cricket. Press criticism, regarding the infringement of these traditions of English cricket is likely to have amplified anti-establishment behaviour. Many commentators have drawn parallels between the behaviour of the Barmy Army and the kind of Englishness which is closely associated with the football supporters in general, and football hooligans who follow the national team more specifically.... Yet members of the Barmy Army would (quite rightly) explicitly reject such a characterization. Barmy Army support is patriotic and chauvinistic, but it is perhaps more accurate to draw parallels between themselves and the 'Tartan Army' and 'Roligans' who follow the Scottish and Danish national football teams respectively. Their activities overseas have utilized a stereotypical racist, bigoted, parochial and confrontational English football supporter as a 'hooligan referent', primarily in dialectical selfdefinition as a means of asserting a culturally distinctive national identity, and as a Goffmanesque impression management strategy to 'win over' their hosts by actively cultivating a gregarious, funloving and friendly persona. This persona is widely achieved despite songs and chants in their repertoire that include aggressive and racialised verbal abuse (for example, 'You All Live in Convict Colony' to the tune of The Beatles' 'Yellow Submarine' aimed at their Australian counterparts). 71

7 Media Representations of Football and Rugby Fans In observing that 'in many ways the Barmy Army represent a new phase in global (or at least international) sports spectatorship and tourism', Parry and Malcolm (2004: 83) note that 'international rugby union fixtures and tours by the British Lions in particular have been characterized by similar forms of sports tourism'. Such comparisons have not been lost on other observers. Witness this letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph (19 June 2004: 23): Sir, Harry Mount's rant against the Young British Male (YBM) [Comment, 18 June] entirely ignores the thousands of YBMs who travelled to Australia to support England at the Rugby World Cup last autumn, who travelled to watch the British Lions in 2001, and the Barmy Army who follow England's cricketers across the globe. These YBMs are equally lager-soaked, yet act with good humour and are welcomed by both natives and other fans alike. The issue is not one of nationalities, but of the culture of violence that pervades football and transcends nationalities, as no doubt the Turkish, German, Dutch and Italian police forces can all testify. P.A., London. Similar sentiments appear in a letter to the editor of The Times (21 June 2004): Sir, Why is it that I can go to an international or domestic rugby international or cricket game, drink all day with English supporters of the opposing team, wear the St. George's Cross with pride, and without fingers pointing at me as if I were a racist? I simply do not believe that the excuse 'the situation was fuelled by alcohol' is the root cause of these issues. If it were, I would be witnessing this every time I went to a cricket or rugby game. A.B., Norfolk. As a counter-point, Dougie Brimson (2006), an ex-hooligan turned author and scriptwriter, has challenged the media for not acknowledging the changing face of the England football team's fan-base, which he suggests is not too dissimilar to cricket's Barmy Army that enjoy such a favourable image and media representation. Brimson (2006: 84-5) contests: 72 in recent years scores of travelling supporters have had the courage to stick their heads above the parapet and do their bit to try and change the image of our game abroad, so is it really too much to expect that one of our media groups might one day have the bottle to follow suit and back them to the hilt? Not just in

8 Football Studies, vol. 9 no word, but in deed? Or is it still the case that as far as the media is concerned, the working class image of sport dictates that there is room only for one English Barmy Army? A second would be just too much to contemplate, especially when it has historically provided such good press. Brimson (2006) makes a valid point when he alludes to the 'good press' that the behaviour of English football supporters has traditionally received. English Football, Crowd Disorder and the Press As I have previously suggested (Poulton, 2005, 2006), Hall's (1978) work remains of great use to help us understand the treatment of 'football hooliganism' by the media. He claimed that the media reporting was characterised by six main themes, which apply Stan Cohen's (1972) twin concepts of 'folk devils' and 'moral panics'. Firstly, Hall (1978) noted how the press treatment of football hooliganism can excite the phenomenon. This is achieved, secondly, through the misleading use of language of violence, whereby war imagery is frequently employed by journalists in match reports, with grudge matches often referred to as 'battles', while the 'battles' off the field are roundly condemned. Thirdly, the vitriolic chastisement of 'hooligans' usually involves the 'dismissive labelling' of them as 'animals' and or some bestial other. Fourth, as a consequence of this labelling, football hooligans, but also supporters more broadly, become 'stigmatised' and degraded. Fifth, Hall (1978) points to a lack of discussion regarding plausible, let alone deeper explanations for the causes of football-related disorder. Lastly, drawing directly on Cohen (1972), Hall suggests that instead of probing the issue, the media are responsible for causing 'moral panics'. This is characterised by the 'amplification spiral' evident in the media coverage of football-related disorder, which can excite and exaggerate, or sometimes, at inopportune times, 'de-amplify' or downplay, the phenomenon at particular moments (Hall, 1978). This regularly manifests itself as a series of alarmist forecasts about the return of hooliganism on the eve of major fixtures or international tournaments, as we have seen before Euro 96, World Cup 98, Euro 2000, World Cup 2002, Euro 2004 and most recently, the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Such provocative and scare-mongering coverage of footballrelated disorder can then escalate the issue, and the expectant atmosphere, before a ball has been kicked, let alone something actually 'kicks off. If disorder does occur, the media's panic-stricken predictions are then 'proven' to be true and consequently become self-fulfilling prophesies, with incidents often reported in a 'told-you-so' tone. Gary Whannel (1979), also utilising the writing of Cohen (1972), claimed that the frequent stereotyped characterisation of hooligans has led to them becoming a popular 'folk devil' in society and that, consequently: 73

9 Media Representations of Football and Rugby Fans The football hooligan begets the football hooliganism problem. The establishment of a new folk devil leads to the development of a moral panic.... Future incidents then appear within the framework of this moral panic as evidence of a trend, which is increasingly newsworthy in its own right. These perceptive comments evidently remain valid, with those involved in football-related disorder derided and demonised. For example, referring to the disorder between Arsenal and Galatasaray supporters before the 2000 UEFA Cup Final in Copenhagen, which was fuelled by Anglo-Turkish tensions after the fatal stabbings of two Leeds United fans by Galatasaray followers in Istanbul the previous month, the broadsheet Daily Telegraph (18 May 2000) headlined in language more typical of the tabloid press with: 'Barbarians Bring Hate into the Football Arena'. Such language is indicative of the 'dismissive labelling' and the 'verbal reduction of football hooligans to the level of animals, or the insane' (Hall, 1978: 28) and the tendency to characterise the perpetrators as 'mindless lunatics' and a 'sub-human species' (Whannel, 1979). This facile rhetoric leads to the simplistic assumption that hooliganism occurs either as a result of a collective spasm of irrationality, or the recourse to carnal animal instincts, neither of which are satisfactory explanations for the causes of football-related violence. Moreover, in blaming the 'mindless', 'moronic', 'sub-human', 'barbarians', the deeper social roots and more enduring causal factors behind the phenomenon can be overlooked. Another problem with the traditional press representation of English football fandom lies in the English media's latent denial of those forming the sizable middle ground of English football's support base: passionate men, and increasingly women and families, who follow the national team, or their club, at great expense, with no inclination towards aggression, racism or violence. Yet these supporters have regularly been forgotten in the prevailing news values of the media agenda (Poulton, 2005). As Brimson (2006) intimated above, many of these supporters have been pro-active in recent years to try to reverse their tarnished image, but the media have rarely opted to tell their stories. If more attention was given to these supporters and their experiences, we would have a much more comprehensive and accurate picture of English football fan culture, instead of the media tendency to frame of all supporters as uniformly potentially dangerous; in other words, as 'hooligans'. We are starting to see occasional examples of this. We were first treated to instances of this when the wide-scale mediated predictions of trouble involving England supporters failed to materialise in Japan during the 2002 World Cup (Poulton, 2003). Indeed, 2002 appeared to witness a sea change, albeit temporarily, in the English media's agenda-setting. The most significant 74

10 Football Studies, vol. 9 no shift in the news values characterising the English reporting of the 2002 World Cup was the positive profile given to the well-behaved England supporters (Poulton, 2003). A Daily Mirror (13 June 2002: 59) columnist, Mick Dennis, went as far as bidding: 'Sayonara to the Neanderthal Fan'. Since then, English supporters have again been roundly blamed and condemned, sometimes wrongly, for various incidents in Bratislava, Zurich and Sunderland that were amplified by the media during the national team's Euro 2004 qualifying campaign. The representation of the incidents in Sunderland offers a useful example of the typical media reporting on English football fans. Always the Barbarians? The Representation of England Football Fans On the day the England team were to face Turkey at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, the Daily Telegraph (2 April 2003: 1) carried a front-page spread comparing the team to the England rugby union team, newly crowned 2003 Six Nations Champions, with photographs of Jonny Wilkinson and David Beckham. Chief Sports Writer, Paul Hayward, made a direct contrast between the respective sports and their supporters as he wrote: 'England's rugby XV are a beaming advertisement for the game they play so well.... Eriksson's men are lost in a thicket of mediocrity and hooliganism'. These comments were made against a backdrop of mediated forecasts that the match would be used by some England supporters as an opportunity for vengeance for the deaths of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, the two Leeds United supporters killed in Istanbul ahead of the 2000 UEFA Cup semi-final. For example, The Observer's Dennis Campbell quoted the alleged concerns of an unnamed police intelligence officer, who warned: 'Our worst fear is that some of these England thugs will see this as an eye-for-an-eye situation and won't be happy until a Turkish man is dead' (30 March, 2003: 25). In the event, a series of incidents involving English fans were deemed to have marred England's European Championship qualifying match against Turkey. These included an assault on a Turkish cameraman; an attempted attack on a minibus carrying Turkish fans; the booing of the Turkish national anthem and racist chanting by small pockets of the 45,000 English crowd towards the Turkish contingent, who, in turn, were jeering and making monkey noises and gestures at England's black players; sporadic outbreaks of fighting in Sunderland city centre between rival supporters of English clubs (not Turkish fans); and two brief pitch invasions by a few dozen English supporters celebrating England's goals, arguably provoked by the gesticulations of the players. Nevertheless, the facts, detail, context and any sense of perspective were arguably lost in the media framing of these incidents, with a failure in many reports across the range of media to distinguish between the separate incidents. Reporters, wilfully or otherwise, misrepresented the scale and severity of incidents through resorting to hyperbole and histrionics (Poulton, 2005: 31). 75

11 Media Representations of Football and Rugby Fans The English Football Association (FA) was fined a record 78,000 by UEFA for these incidents. While England's next match a few days later against Slovakia in Middlesbrough passed without incident, The FA declined their ticket allocation to England's next 'away' fixtures: the Euro 2004 qualifiers against Macedonia and Turkey in Skopje and Istanbul respectively, in an apparent gesture to appease UEFA. The FA also joined up with Northumbria Police in releasing twenty-nine 'mug-shots' of those said to have encroached onto the pitch, instigating a 'name and shame' campaign. This campaign was taken up with alacrity by the local press, with the Newcastle Evening Chronicle (10 June 2003) carrying a front-page headline: 'Shop a Yob', together with photographs of the 'suspects'. Working in tandem with the press again, The FA tried to dissuade fans from travelling to Skopje and Istanbul for the matches for which they had declined tickets. One article in particular stands out from this period. Columnist Matthew Norman, writing for the Daily Mirror (7 October 2003: 57), showing no respect towards the non-violent majority of English football supporters, nor any sensitivity towards the bereaved families of Loftus and Speight, suggested: the best thing that could happen to English football is an eruption of such violence in Istanbul that England are slung out of Euro Preferably no one will die, although if a couple of our Hitler-worshipping cretins take a scimitar to the heart, few will mourn. The campaign to deter supporters was apparently successful, with only an estimated few dozen travelling to Istanbul and even fewer gaining entrance to the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium. There were no troublesome incidents or disturbances. Yet despite thousands of England's regular travelling supporters heeding The FA's wishes, signs of acknowledgment or appreciation of this were few and far between from the media or The FA. Rather than reporting on a congratulatory or at least positive note on supporters' behaviour, the press response was cautionary, typified by broadsheet articles headed, 'Trouble-free, but fans are still on trial' (The Guardian, 11 October 2003) and, in anticipation of the next major tournament, 'Police gearing up for Euro 2004 Finals' (The Guardian, 12 October 2003). The 2002 World Cup appeared to see something of a watershed in the media's agenda-setting, with a significant shift in news values towards a positive profiling of ordinary English supporters, which arguably contributed to a more accurate insight into English fan culture (Poulton, 2003). It would, however, seem from the media amplification of the incidents at the England versus Turkey match in Sunderland and pre-match coverage of the Istanbul fixture, that English fans did no more than enjoy a Far Eastern honeymoon. 76

12 Football Studies, vol. 9 no Indeed, predictably, as Euro 2004 drew closer, the alarmist prophesies of disorder during the tournament increased, as they have done prior to all major tournaments (Poulton, 2005). Interestingly, Simon Barnes of The Times (1 December 2003: 1) writing after the tournament draw, chose to use the supporters of England's rugby union team as his point of reference, observing: It all makes for some lip-smacking anticipation, even if there are misgivings about the quality of Englishmen that will be out there cheering our brave boys. Perhaps we should send the football team and the rugby supporters. As much business for the barmen, rather less for the police. His remarks were made on the back of the exemplary behaviour of the English rugby union supporters at the World Cup the month before, which saw England win the World Cup. The plaudits accorded to those supporters are detailed below. For the time being, however, it is interesting to note how further critical comparisons made between football supporters and their rugby union counterparts as Euro 2004 grew closer. For example, Brian Woolnough in his column in the Daily Star (29 May 2004: 60) juxtaposed his 'enjoyable afternoon at Twickenham last Sunday, watching the exciting Heineken Cup final' with what he called in his headline, 'Footy Shame'. He explained: It was a great occasion, with both sets of supporters [the victors, London Wasps and the French team, Toulouse] sharing plenty of booze and banter without a hint of trouble. A similar amount of fluid will be consumed when England play at Euro 2004 in Portugal. But can we guarantee a similar friendly atmosphere? Sadly, no. A minority seem hell bent on spoiling it for the rest. So how come a rugby crowd can drink itself silly and sing but football fans get drunk and fight? Despite Woolnough's and others' cynical concerns, Euro 2004 passed without any incidents of public disorder, with UEFA praising England's supporters for their good behaviour. In a significant shift in tone and agenda, commentators within the press began to positively acknowledge the supporters. Appearing to have forgotten his gloomy pre-tournament forecast, Brian Woolnough wrote: 'The England fans were magnificent, for the second successive tournament the best. The noise they make drowns out all others and their commitment to follow the team is unequalled' (Daily Star, 28 June 2004: 54). Football supporters also found an unlikely ally in their regular critic Jeff Powell from the Daily Mail (28 June 2004: 66): 77

13 Media Representations of Football and Rugby Fans Who would have thought we would live to see the day when England's football fans came home from Europe in better odour than the team? For this unexpected blessing we have to thank the majority of decent supporters for setting the example which persuaded others it is possible to have a wonderful time without smashing up foreign cities, the Portuguese police, who wore a tactful glove on the firm hand which quietened the early disturbances in the Algarve, and the courteous welcome of the host population. Above all, this counts as a triumph for the diligent detection work by the British authorities, who prevented hardcore hooligans from travelling to Portugal. The only pity is that the yobs went on the rampage at home. If there is any solution to that, it resides entirely within our own culture and society. Matt Dickinson from The Times (28 June 2004: 2 of The Game) also noted the British Government's use of legislation through banning orders in response to UEFA's threat to expel the England team should their supporters misbehave, as he reported how the supporters had actually behaved well in Portugal: The team's progress stalled in Portugal but England can boast one undoubted success story from the European Championship finals. After the threat of ejection from the tournament if there was a serious outbreak of hooliganism, UEFA yesterday awarded the nation's band of travelling supporters 9 out of 10 [the lost point was for jeering opponents' national anthems]. Failing to hurl chairs through shop windows, beat rival supporters to a pulp and terrify innocent bystanders should be regarded as normal behaviour but, given England's notorious past, there is understandable relief among UEFA and The FA at the success in preventing a repeat of the riots at the 1998 World Cup and Euro England supporters travelled in greater numbers than those from any other country but, although there was some fighting in the Algarve, UEFA said those incidents had nothing to do with the tournament. He did, however, add the caveat that there should be no complacency on The FA's part. Dickinson cited UEFA's William Gaillard who said that UEFA retained the right to take 'drastic action' if there was trouble in the future, adding the prophesy that 'Germany, the venue for the next World Cup, could bring out the worst in England's far-right element'. While he concluded on a positive note, Dickinson appeared to still harbour some reservations about England's football fans, as he cautioned: 78

14 Football Studies, vol. 9 no The FA will have to stay on top of the problem of hooliganism. It was not so long ago that there was fighting in Slovakia and, when England played Turkey in Sunderland, there was trouble between supporters of rival clubs as well as pitch invasions. With England meeting Northern Ireland and Wales in their qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup finals, there is the potential for problems in Belfast and Cardiff... There remains a need for vigilance but Portugal can go down as a success, particularly given that the ingredients for a riot - easy access, cheap beer and hot weather - were here. It would seem that after two consecutive trouble-free tournaments at the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004, the English media still would not allow English football supporters to banish the looming shadow of their 'barbarian' image. Always the Gentlemen? The Representation of England Rugby Fans While the English press understandably indulged in England's rugby union World Cup victory over Australia in 2003, a notable of their reporting was the positive profile, in quantitative and qualitative terms, they afforded the team's supporters. For example, on the day of the World Cup final, the Daily Mirror, a tabloid newspaper not renowned for its interest in rugby union, headlined with: 'Our Rugger Fans Are World Class'. Inside James Whitaker wrote: No matter what happens this morning when the Wallabies front up the Poms, this Rugby World Cup tournament has been a triumph for British sportsmanship. And I'm not talking about our magnificent thirty players. The fans, many of whom are Aussiebased, have behaved with decency, decorum and enormous good humour and wit as they've crossed that huge continent in pursuit of excitement and glory. Actually, I didn't expect anything else - afterall, they're rugger, not soccer fans - but it's good to be able to record this behaviour. I have no doubt that many supporters have drunk too much and been too noisy and boisterous at times, but, unless I've been snoozing, I can't recall a single incident of yobbism since the tournament began at the beginning of October... All of the above is, of course, in stark contrast to our loutish soccer supporters, who seem to have little idea how to behave when travelling abroad and are hardly better on home soil. Are the two sets of fans from the same backgrounds? In many cases, but not all, the answer is YES, so why does one lot behave and the other not? Possibly because the culture of both watching and playing rugger instils self-discipline (Daily Mirror, 22 November 2003: 33). 79

15 Media Representations of Football and Rugby Fans Once again we see an explicit contrast being made between English rugby and football supporters. For Whitaker, the reason for this is not due to class-based backgrounds, but the nature of the sports and their codes of conduct. Elsewhere in the tabloid, Patrick Mulchrone and Justine Smith reported how: 'The good-natured banter surrounding the tournament has been reflected in the fact that there has not been a single arrest for a serious offence in the last 42 days of the tournament' (Daily Mirror, 22 November 2003: 5). The England rugby team's success brought further plaudits for the players and their fans, as well as more derisory comments about their football counterparts. Simon Hart in the Sunday Telegraph (23 November 2003: S2) wrote: Even watching it was exhausting as both sides' supporters tensed and writhed around on their seats. Yet the intense rivalry between the fans, fuelled by a sometimes xenophobic media campaign, was without a trace of malice. For anyone who has witnessed the shameful behaviour of travelling England football supporters, yesterday's final provided a moving antidote. After the final whistle England supporters, some in tears, joined in a chorus of Waltzing Matilda while, to a man and woman, the home fans stayed to applaud England's achievement. Many opposing supporters hugged each other as they left. It was left to Hart's colleague, Mark Chipperfield, to recount how: 'England supporters taunted their Australian counterparts with a hastily rewritten version of the Australian song: 'I shagged Matilda, and so did my mates" (Sunday Telegraph, 23 November 2003: 2-3). The tone of his report was hardly condemnatory as he boasted how the Australians were 'easily drowned out by choruses of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'. It is doubtful whether such lyrics would be so readily dismissed had they been sung by football supporters. Like English cricket's Barmy Army, it would seem that rugby fans can do no wrong and are immune from criticism, however derogatory their songs and chants. Indeed, reference was made to the Barmy Army, and one suspects, an intimation to England's football supporters, as the Sunday Mirror's Adam Hathaway reflected on the celebrations in London and in Sydney: At 8 o'clock yesterday morning the roads of Upper Street in Islington looked as if they would have done at 10 o'clock on a Friday night - but without the trouble. This is rugby afterall... In Sydney, the Barmy Army's conversion from cricket to rugby allowed them to win the singing battle of the stands too (Sunday Mirror, 23 November 2003: 87). 80

16 Football Studies, vol. 9 no The Sun's John Sadler was more explicit. In his column entitled, 'Yobs Will Soon Put Boot into Memories', Sadler was forthright in seeking to differentiate between England's rugby and football supporters; his vitriol against the latter is worth quoting at length: The restaurants, pubs, bars and sundry watering-holes of Sydney still have their windows and furniture intact this morning. Urgent repair work was required only for the Australian ego. Some 40,000 English fans have been, seen, conquered and now they are leaving for home.... And with tributes for their contribution to one of the most spectacular sporting events of all time. If only we could anticipate saying the same following football's European Championships in Portugal next summer. Sadly, there is not the faintest hope.... For it is only a matter of months until England dispute the round ball in Portugal, where those who could not be trusted with tickets for Skopje and Istanbul will be unleashed in their thousands. We are likely to be watching television footage of riot shields, police batons, flailing fists, swinging boots, upturned tables and shattered glass. By then we will truly appreciate what the English have achieved at the weekend (The Sun, 25 November, 2003: 55). As outlined above, none of these predictions came to fruition at Euro 2004 and England's football fans were applauded by UEFA for their good behaviour, but it seems that they will always be the 'folk devil', especially now that the press have found some new 'good guys' to write about. World Cup 2006: 'Barbarians' or 'Gentleman' and the Press? Despite his 'misgivings about the quality of Englishmen' who would be cheering on the England football team at Euro 2004, Simon Barnes adopted a different pitch as he reflected on the first week of the football World Cup in June In an essay entitled: 'Interlude for Patriot Games', Barnes wrote: Partisanship is one of sport's joys. Those who find the raucous patriotism of Inger-lund at World Cup time distasteful were probably cheering just as loudly, if more decorously, as England won the Ashes last summer, or when Jonny Wilkinson created the perfect parabola three years ago for the rugby union team' (The Times, 14 June 2006: 9, The Game). Barnes appears to be acknowledging different styles of support for the national football, cricket and rugby teams, which in turn reflect different expressions of English national identity. In English football fan culture, this is often expressed 81

17 Media Representations of Football and Rugby Fans through heavy-drinking, raucous singing and chanting, which may be considered, or at least tolerated, as normal, high-spirited, 'laddish' behaviour in Britain, but can also at times be deemed as anti-social, aggressive posturing that is deeply offensive to some people in society and particularly in other cultures (Poulton, 2001, 2005). These boisterous manifestations of national support are arguably also found amongst English cricket's Barmy Army and also rugby fanbase, yet receive no criticism. This is probably due to the fact that English football fan culture has also traditionally been characterised by aggressive jingoism, racism and xenophobia and has a notorious history of disorder. This image of hooliganism is hard to rid from public consciousness, especially when the media seem to ensure it is never far from their news agenda. This was evident during some small-scale disorder between England and German fans during the 2006 World Cup. Jeff Powell, sports columnist for the Daily Mail (26 June 2006: 85) assumed the 'told-you-so' tone as he bemoaned: Millions back home will be only too familiar with the scenes in Stuttgart. They witness them as binge boozers swill through the cities, towns and villages. With grim inevitability, the English are spoiling the World Cup party. We used to export our football hooligans. Now it's just our everyday drunks. Meanwhile, news correspondent Christian Gysin headlined with: '500 Are Arrested as Our Travelling Thugs Revert to Type'. He reported: A drunken mob of England fans dragged their reputation back into the gutter with two nights of violence. Until the weekend, they had been described as the best supporters in the tournament following relatively trouble-free opening games in Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Cologne. Of the 3,842 arrests in Germany up to Friday morning, a mere 135 involved UK citizens. Then came the battle of Stuttgart. On successive nights, children screamed as their parents whisked them away from yobs throwing bottles, chairs and two-litre beer glasses at German fans. More than 500 England fans were held in swoops by riot police (Daily Mail, 26 June 2006: 8). Yet it is arguably more of a case of journalists reverting to type. The spin put on the arrest statistics and the language employed conjures images of widespread disorder fuelling another moral panic about English 'hooliganism', but the fighting that took place involved not even one per cent of the estimated 100,000 English supporters who travelled to Germany during the World Cup. Once again, any sense of perspective or context was lost in the media framing of the incidents. It appears that the tried and tested media agenda of framing England supporters en masse for any misdemeanours perpetrated by however 82

18 Football Studies, vol. 9 no few troublemakers is an easy fallback for many journalists and correspondents. Old 'copy' can be readily, and possibly eagerly, cut and pasted into new articles, with the familiar chastising headlines and editorials. Concluding Observations Despite numerous studies on 'football hooliganism' and growing interest in football fan culture more broadly, there is a dearth of literature on rugby fandom and even less, if any, on crowd disorder at rugby and the media representation of the supporters of the sport. Future studies could usefully look to address this by examining rugby fandom through either ethnographic research to understand more about rugby union fan culture and indeed the reasons for its absence of disorder. Further textual analyses of the representation of rugby union supporters by the media would also be welcome. A study of football and rugby union fans perceptions of their respective sports and themselves vis-a-vis the other code could also be enlightening. This paper has sought to offer some preliminary observations about the media representation of football and rugby union supporters. It has revealed how there have been consistent attempts by the press to demarcate rugby and football supporters, with the latter often used as a 'hooligan referent' to highlight the superior image and reputation of the former, just as Parry and Malcolm (2004) have said to be the case with English cricket's Barmy Army. In this connection, it has been suggested elsewhere that 'the stereotypical representation of football fans has led to the increasing symbolic marginalisation of the 'rough' white working class - a related concern has been expressed by the journalists Michael Collins (2004) and Julie Burchill (2001)' (Hughson & Poulton, in press). Great progress was made during the 2002 World Cup, with the championing of ordinary fans, many patriotic standard-bearers who follow England, at great expense, across the globe, without any inclination towards belligerence, bigotry or bloodshed (Poulton, 2003). This continued during Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. During the 2006 World Cup the English press for the first time really embraced narratives of good-natured English supporters and 'fan-friendly' initiatives organised by members of englandfans, the official England fan club. For example, the Daily Telegraph (15 June 2006: 6) featured a large colour photograph of the cricket match organised by englandfans against supporters from Trinidad and Tobago. Meanwhile, The Sun celebrated the England supporters' good behaviour and positive contribution to the World Cup party with headlines like: 'Love is in the Herr' (17 June, 2006: 1) and 'You're Not Sinning Anymore' (17 June, 2006: 2-3). So it seems that all sections of England's support are finally attracting attention, not just the hooligan element who are in the minority, whose 'tales of terror' are usually allowed to dominate the front pages and opening television news items by editors and producers. Nevertheless, as and when football- 83

19 Media Representations of Football and Rugby Fans related disorder does occur involving English football fans, as it did during England's Euro 2004 qualifying campaign and briefly in Germany, there is an immediate regression back to the one-dimensional portrayal of all supporters cast as villains, with the causes, context and extent of the disorder and number of those involved lost in the sensationalised representation of the incidents. The spectre of football hooliganism still blights the image of English football supporters. It will take at least another trouble-free qualifying campaign and major tournament like Euro 2008 and even another World Cup to finally lay those ghosts to rest and negate the enduring mediated stereotype of the 'barbarian' fan. Meanwhile, English rugby union fans enjoy a very different relationship with the press. While they may not always conform to type of being the perfect 'gentlemen', they certainly win the popularity contests when pitched against the perceived 'barbarians' from English football's fan-base. REFERENCES Adams, R. (1978). Soccer hooliganism and the mass media: Fictions and reality. Youth and Society, 30, Armstrong, G. (1999). Kicking off with the wannabe warriors. In M. Perryman (Ed.), The Ingerland factor: Home truths from football (pp ). Edinburgh: Mainstream. Armstrong, G. & Giulianotti, R. (2001). Fear and loathing in world football. Oxford: Berg. Armstrong, G. & Harris, R. (1991). Football hooligans: Theory and evidence. Sociological Review, 39(3), Bairner, A. (2002). The dog that didn't bark? Football hooliganism in Ireland. In E. Dunning, P. Murphy, I. Waddington & A.E. Astrinakis (Eds.), Fighting fans: Football hooliganism as a world phenomenon. Dublin: University College Dublin Press, pp Birley, D. (1979). The willow wand: Some cricket myths explored. London: Aurum Press. Brimson, D. (2006). Kicking off: Why hooliganism and racism are killing football London: Headline. Brown, A. (Ed.) (1998). Fanatics! Power, identity and fandom in football. London: Routledge. Burchill, J. (2001, 5 May). A nasty taste in the mouth. The Guardian. Chandler, T.J.L. & Nauright, J. (Eds.) (1999). Making the rugby world: Race, gender and commerce. London: Frank Cass. Clarke, J. (1978). Football and working class fans: Tradition and change. In R. Ingham (Ed.) Football hooliganism: The wider context (pp ). London: Inter-Action Imprint. Cohen, S. (1972). Folk devils and moral panics. London: MacGibbon and Kee. Collins, M. (2004). The likes of us: A biography of the white working class. London: Granta. 84

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