It was very wet, pretty boring, Stockport did themselves proud and Craig Dawson won it for West Ham with an 83rd minute header. Now, let’s talk about the fireworks.
It’s a massive game – I get it; it’s a massive shame Stockport fans couldn’t be inside the stadium. But it is just football.
That fact – it being just football – was made particularly salient by the cause of the fireworks and the effect they had in bringing the game to a halt. Set off in the 15th minute, they were for 15-year-old Khia, battling for his life in a critical condition in hospital after he was knocked over by a police car.
Really nice to see the whole Stockport community pulling together to support Khia! We are all still sending our thoughts and prayers across to him and his family. Keep fighting Khia! 💚💚💚 pic.twitter.com/ulcXhV7reC
— Stockport SFA (@StockportSFA) January 11, 2021
With Mike Dean and Mark Noble looking to the sky in bemusement, the message behind the display filtered through on social media. In hindsight, it was a beautifully human and heartwarming moment; we need all of those we can get right now.
But, unfortunately, such moments must be caveated in Covid times. If the fireworks were set off by one person, with one other person, then they, the Greater Manchester Police and anyone involved in the set up absolutely nailed it.
But the low hum of screaming fans heard throughout the game suggests there was quite the congregation just outside the stadium. Why weren’t they told to go home and watch it on TV?
This will seem petty, maybe ill-timed, possibly even heartless, given the tragic circumstances in Stockport. Communities are what gets people through in times of strife and Khia, his family and friends will need that support. But then, we must be petty, mustn’t we? Given the tragic circumstances across the UK and the rest of the world, where numerous communities have been ravaged and families destroyed.
Khia is fighting for his life, but so are thousands of others. Why risk the chance of more suffering?
And really, this isn’t about Monday night in Stockport. It’s a wider problem of apathy in football. It was a problem when Leeds fans celebrated promotion in July, when Liverpool fans flocked to Anfield after their title win, when Marine fans lined the streets on Sunday and of course with the footballers themselves, moronically ignoring protocols.
What’s particularly weird is the reaction to moments like this. The laughing emojis from BBC and BT Sport Twitter accounts as the fireworks were going off (before they knew the reason), the strong arms, fists and fires alongside pictures of fans flouting guidelines, the Merseyside Police claiming the ‘vast majority’ of Marine fans were socially distanced when they clearly weren’t. All happening with FA and Premier League heads submerged beneath the sand.
A Stockport fan has started letting off fireworks outside the ground…
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 11, 2021
In such situations, it’s not hard to read between the lines. How is coronavirus not everyone’s first or at least close second thought? Everything, EVERYTHING has got to have an undercurrent of Covid mindfulness.
It’s taken over our lives. I watch TV and squirm when I see Tony Soprano kissing one of his capos and question whether handshakes are necessary when an elbow bump will do. It’s horrible. It’s distracting. It’s uncomfortable. And too f***ing right.
Will Ford is on Twitter