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View from the Blue
Columnist: Lyndon Lloyd


The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
7 July, 2004

Our Kid: The fans are NOT turning against him despite The Sun's best efforts.

Is there anything more laughable than The Sun trying to occupy the moral high ground? In a crass front-page article in today's issue they accuse the people of Liverpool of being small-minded for not forgetting the rag's treatment of the Hillsborough tragedy 15 years ago and of "trashing" Wayne Rooney for writing for them. They blame rivals Trinity Mirror (who own the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post) for inciting hatred towards them on Merseyside because they printed a few letters from fans disappointed that Wayne has joined their payroll. And all the while they allude to an apology they apparently made for their "carelessness and thoughtlessness" a bit of an understatement, don't you think? without actually restating that apology at all.

The fact is that there are very few Evertonians who are "trashing" Wayne. Far from turning against him, if anything they are just mightily disappointed. Most are appalled at his advisors and disgusted at the speed with which they have swept him up in the non-footballing aspects of his career. At a time when the media is doing everything it can to drive a wedge between Rooney and his boyhood club — the club that has groomed him for his current success — and push him towards a so-called "bigger club," most Blues are just praying the lad keeps his feet on the ground and stays true to his roots so we get on with preparing for next season.

The majority on Merseyside acknowledge that he is only 18 and that he was only three when the The Sun published scandalous claims that Liverpool fans urinated on and stole from the dead on the Leppings Lane terraces where 96 fans lost their lives and were the cause of the disaster in the first place. The invective is aimed squarely at those advising him who should — and probably do — know better. Viewed within the bigger picture it looks to be another phase in an increasingly successful plan to turn Rooney against Everton and drive him into the arms of Manchester United or Chelsea.

So, don't be fooled while The Sun acts all holier-than-thou, preaching forgiveness and throwing a sinister arm around the shoulders of Croxteth's finest. They wouldn't give a toss about either Everton or Wayne if he hadn't been so successful so soon in an England shirt or, indeed, if having him on the front page wouldn't guarantee greater circulation. And they will be at the head of the queue if and when Rooney's England career falters, ready to tear him to shreds.

And try not to laugh as they try to hold that out-of-place halo over their heads and attempt to paint everyone but themselves as the bad guys.

"Fifteen years is a long time. It's time to move on," they say. Right, half a century ago was also a long time in the 1990s when when you dredged up wartime jingoism with these two headlines: "We Beat Them In 45 ... Now The Battle of 90" (Italia '90) and "Let's Blitz Fritz" (Euro '96). And 16 years was also a long time ago in 1998 when you stirred up anti-Argentine fervour during the World Cup in France.

Had The Sun proved since 1989 to be a bastion of good taste and fine journalism as opposed to the crass, jingoistic and dumbed-down rag that it undoubtedly is, maybe they would have a case. As it is, this patronising and slimey attempt to alienate the City of Liverpool from one of its finest sons is dispicable.

The Sun's actions in 1989 were, frankly, unforgiveable. I don't know how they can expect to be forgiven by anyone in the City 100 years from now let alone 15 irrespective of who is on their staff. That newspaper still stands for the same cheap values, mis-information and gutter reportage it always has, and the front page of today's issue encapsulates everything that is wrong with them and a nation where an organ as trashy as The Sun has the greatest circulation.

Lyndon Lloyd

 


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