Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Our Great City Will Always Be United - Apart from on Derby Day!

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Our Great City Will Always Be United - Apart from on Derby Day!

Article excerpt

A SEASONED Manchester football writer was asked a poignant question this week by a visiting French journalist.

"This is the first Manchester derby since the Arena bomb in May - do you think there will be a show of unity from Manchester United and Manchester City fans?" The hack thought for a second, replied and said: "No chance!" And that's exactly how it should be.

The whole point of defying murderous idiots like the Arena bomber is to make them realise they have changed absolutely nothing, other than inflict misery and grief on the lives of poor families who didn't deserve it.

The show of unity Manchester put on after the tragedy - ignoring the minority of divisive fools - was heartening.

Mancunians are white, black, brown, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, Hindu, Buddhist and more. We are all immigrants and refugees in this city, and it's the source of our greatest strength.

But come tomorrow, Mancunians will be either Red or Blue, no fence-sitting allowed.

Songs of mockery and ridicule will be sung, insults will be hurled across pubs, and at the final whistle there will be joy and bitterness, revision and recrimination.

It's how it has been for more than a hundred years, and how it should continue to be, no matter how much any scumbags try to change us.

But the one thing for which there is no room at any derby - and this derby in particular - is hatred.

The hatred that ended so many young lives at the Arena was real. To use the same word in relation to a football match is to cheapen the emotions which still flood the city after May's events.

If you 'hate' a football team or its fans, what word do you reserve for terrorists, dictators, murderers and mayhem-makers? And yet we cannot stray too far the other way.

Already in the build-up to this game, we have seen United fans jumping up and down, demanding that Pep Guardiola be banned from the touchline for his interaction with Nathan Redmond - even though the player himself made it plain nothing untoward was said or done. …

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