Tributes, dark suits and a bit of dissent as football marks the Queen’s death
Walking around London on a Saturday afternoon, the time of week when football shirts of all colors are on display as people drive through the capital on their way to matches, it’s easy to get your bearings if one is getting lost.
If the crowd of people holding flowers are walking in the opposite direction from you, you are moving away from the royal landmarks of the city. If they’re by your side, you’re heading to Buckingham Palace, where people spent days paying their respects to the country’s longest reigning monarch, or walking along the country’s longest queue .
For the first time since the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, which prompted the controversial cancellation of all games over the following weekend, English football had an (almost) full slate of fixtures, with a handful of games still behind schedule. to the record demand for police personnel in London and the regional forces involved.
As games began across the country, managers and even television pundits wore black or muted tones to mark the occasion. In the stadiums, fans stopped before kick-off to observe a minute’s silence and sing the newly reformulated national anthem, God Save The King. Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe even changed from a black suit for the tributes to a black tracksuit for the game.
The clubs decided to forego the usual pre-match music, but there was loud applause for 70 minutes of most matches to commemorate the number of years the Queen has spent on the throne.
These actions were widely supported, but not by everyone, especially in Scotland, where supporters including those of Celtic and Dundee United expressed their dissent.
Athleticism toured the capital on match day, speaking to fans of several clubs about the impact of these historic days on the domestic game.
It’s almost a cliché that supporting a football club is a secular religion. He has blind faith, communal worship, and a deep sense of community in a world that feels increasingly fragmented.
Over the past 10 days, the monarchy has had a similar effect on many – albeit far from everyone – in Britain and beyond, affecting football as it has affected everything else.
A minute’s silence is followed by the national anthem at Deepdale in tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. pic.twitter.com/qa7WEeOH1r
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 13, 2022
In the days following her death, the Queen’s body was transported south to Balmoral Castle in Scotland where she died and now rests in state at Westminster Hall ahead of Monday’s funeral.
The public can view the Queen’s coffin until 6.30am BST on Monday and demand has been quite staggering.
The queue, as it is known internationally, is 10 miles long, with signs around London stating the wait is 2 p.m. At one point it closed, having reached a 24 hour wait, with a secondary queue to join The Queue open.
But many are content simply to lay flowers near the palace to pay their respects, or simply to see what it’s all about.
Nick and Mark, both Leicester City season ticket holders, traveled from the Midlands to see their team play Tottenham at the late kick-off and rushed to visit the palace before heading north to London.
“Every time we get a London club we try to make it a day,” says Mark, who was delighted with his first visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (at least before it ended in a 6-2 defeat ).
Nine days after the initial shock of the Queen’s death, the mood of some is more one of curiosity and a sense of being at the heart of a historic event than one of intense grief and sadness.
Further towards Green Park, which has been boarded up due to the huge crowds arriving in central London, a group of Tottenham fans traveling to the same game stand where flowers have been laid for days .
“We wanted to pay tribute to him,” said Graham, who lives in Aldershot, an hour south-west of London and who sees the tributes in person before heading to the game.
The Houses of Parliament dominate the Royal Park, and these world-famous landmarks will feature prominently in Monday’s funeral coverage.
For those who want to join The Queue, which extends to the south and east of the city, they should head to Southwark Park.
There are few football allegiances in The Queue, although as one security guard who spent hours watching the crowd put it, “If you saw the Queen, would you wear a football shirt?”
That’s a fair point.
The guard says he narrowly missed David Beckham the day before the former England captain was praised for queuing with the crowd rather than using his connections to avoid the wait. Beckham reportedly waited in line for 13 hours.
“The most special moment for me was receiving my OBE. I took my grandparents with me, who were great royalists,” he told Sky News.
“I was so lucky to have been able to have a few moments like this in my life to be around Her Majesty. It’s a sad day, but a memorable day.
A brisk 15 minute walk behind The Queue is The Den, home of Millwall FC who play in the English second division.
The club is known for its patriotic and working-class fan base (although it has also been hampered at times by fan disorder over the years). There is no moment of silence today as the English Football League teams played midweek and held their tributes then.
But a sense of occasion is in the air around The Den as kick-off time approaches.
Aysha Smith and Sue Adamson are sisters who sell The Lion Roars, which bills itself as “Millwall’s alternative supporters’ magazine”, on sale for £2 off the ground.
The commemorative edition of the fanzine shows a photo of the Queen attending a Millwall match as a teenager.
The Lions aren’t the only club to see a connection to the monarch. Millwall’s fierce rivals West Ham claim the Queen as a fan after she allegedly spoke of her admiration for legendary Hammers boss Ron Greenwood.
She has a special connection to east London after the area was devastated by German bombs during World War II and opened the redeveloped West Stand at the Boleyn Ground in 2002.
Arsenal fans are also proud to be the only team invited to Buckingham Palace in 2007, after the Queen was unable to attend the unveiling of the club’s new stadium the year before.
“I had the opportunity to meet the Queen and I was nervous as hell!”
Thierry Henry had to introduce the whole Arsenal team to the Queen and considered doing it in French.😅 pic.twitter.com/Q1DB0m49tL
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 13, 2022
Sun-selling Millwall fans don’t care about the monarch’s supposed links to their club’s historic rivals.
“I’m just devastated, everyone you talk to says it’s like a dream,” Smith says, adding that every familiar face she spoke to this week wanted to talk about the big news.
“A lot of people can’t attend midweek games, so this is the first opportunity for them to pay their respects.”
Her sister says that as women in the male-dominated world of football, the Queen has been an inspiration to them as a powerful woman in the public eye.
“She directed it.”
Not everyone in the UK has such a positive view of the Royal Family. During Liverpool’s Champions League game earlier this week, the minute’s silence was interrupted by dissent from a small minority.
There was a back and forth between fans disturbing the silence and others shouting at them in the Tottenham game as well, and similar incidents in other games.
But the greatest tensions lie outside England, in parts of the UK where Westminster pomp and ceremony are more controversial.
In Scotland, an independence referendum in 2014 saw 45% of voters express their wish to secede from the United Kingdom.
Rangers are known for their staunchly Unionist – pro-British – fanbase associated with Protestantism, while their fierce Celtic rivals are associated with the Republicanism, linked to the Catholicism and Irish nationalism of their historical fanbase.
Celtic’s game at St Mirren featured a minute’s silence rather than applause, but away fans still found a way to voice their displeasure at the public bereavement.
Banner in the Celtic final against St Mirren during the one minute applause for the Queen. pic.twitter.com/ST6SUrfiDR
— Andrew Maclean (@AndrewMaclean_) September 18, 2022
UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic for a distinctive profane anti-monarchy banner displayed during their Champions League game this week, but Rangers will face no action for ignoring official guidelines and playing the game. UK national anthem.
On Saturday, Rangers played Dundee United, another club with Irish roots, and the silence was disturbed by dissent from away fans.
Much of the Dundee United support boo the minute’s silence at Ibrox and sing ‘Lizzie’s in a box’.
Rule Britannia now echoes around the stadium in retaliation.
I did not expect disturbances to be as strong as this.
—Jordan Campbell (@JordanC1107) September 17, 2022
For the most part, however, minutes of silence around the UK were observed respectfully and hymns were sung aloud.
National flags are not particularly common in English football – the division of the United Kingdom into four distinct nations of origin in the context of football complicates matters, with English football fans identifying more easily with the red cross of St. George.
But the Union Jacks were seen all over England this weekend.
Newcastle United’s home games are usually hosted by the Wor Flags collective, who put on elaborate displays in support of their team.
This week they didn’t out of respect, but red, white and blue flags flew outside the stadium.
Football will continue after the funeral as the new era of the UK under King Charles III begins.
The chairman of the Football Association is Prince William, who is now heir to the throne, so the monarchy is likely to weigh even more heavily on the domestic game.
But this weekend was all about remembering the Queen and once the last minute of silence is over and the last queuing barriers are swept away, no one in this country will forget where they have been during this week. historical.
It was a time when the power of the collective human experience – a weekly event for football fans – was felt by so many beyond that.
(Top photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)