It came as no surprise to hear Liverpool Football Club chief executive Rick Parry label the decision to omit his club from the New Year’s Honours list as “little short of staggering”. It was just a matter of time before the ‘official’ whingeing started.
The simple fact is Liverpool were not honoured because they didn’t deserve to be. It’s laughable to hear Rick Parry compare Liverpool’s Champions League final success with that of the England cricket team and their remarkable Ashes series victory; there is simply no comparison. I’ll let Duleep Allirajah, in his latest column for Spiked Online, tell you why.
The year 2006 began with the all too familiar sound of Scousers moaning. ‘Outrageous, baffling, embarrassing’, bellowed the Liverpool Echo after the European Cup winners were overlooked for gongs in the New Year’s Honours list. England cricket captain Michael Vaughan received an OBE while his Ashes-winning team were given MBEs. Hell, even Lawrie McMenemy bagged an MBE, presumably for services to alcohol-free lager. But Rafa and Stevie G got diddly squat.
The honours snub will invariably enter Scouse mythology as the latest in a long series of Crimes Against Merseyside (a list that includes the Luftwaffe’s bombing of the city, the Sun’s coverage of Hillsborough, Boris Johnson’s ‘hooked on grief’ Spectator article, and Channel Four’s axing of Brookside). Personally I can’t get that worked up over who has and hasn’t been honoured by the Queen. But if the honours system is, in the words of a Downing Street spokesperson, intended to reward ‘outstanding achievement and service right across the community and the nation as a whole’, then I can see why Rafa’s Reds might have been overlooked.
The clue is in the words ‘outstanding’ and ‘achievement’. Yes, Liverpool did win the European Cup in the most astonishing fashion, coming back from 3-0 down at half-time in Istanbul to beat AC Milan. But to describe Liverpool’s victory as an ‘outstanding achievement’ would be a terrible violation of the English language. The European Cup was won not through outstanding football but through a combination of AC Milan’s extraordinary act of charity and a Peter Crouch-sized slice of good luck. If anyone deserves a gong after Istanbul it’s AC Milan for gifting the trophy to Liverpool.
That’s that then. We can let the Scousers whinge themselves hoarse and forget all about this so-called crime against Merseyside. But what’s this I hear? The government has done what it has become famous for over the last eight years, a u-turn? Indeed they have. A source is quoted as saying: “It was more a cock-up than a conspiracy but there are two honours lists a year and it is expected that Liverpool will receive due recognition in the next one.”
Now if that doesn’t give credence to those who say the Honours system has become, at the very least, a total absurdity, I don’t know what does. Awarding the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher an MBE, or whatever, for two hours (forty-five minutes in Gerrard’s case; what happened to him in the first half?) spent playing football is a joke. The great Jim Royale would know what to say: “A cock-up? My arse!”
As this evening’s Fiver pointed out, Liverpool not only managed to whinge their way into this season’s Champions League, they’ve now whinged their way into Buckingham Palace.