Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Munich, Munich 58

"Eight of them died so they charged them five grand in the Munich TV rip-off" to badly paraphrase a Liverpool song sung in the days before it was bad form to taunt the opposition in such a vulgar way.

The story that is emerging is that Manchester United tried to charge the BBC 5,000 to show pictures of a Munich Air Disaster Tribute to be held at Old Trafford on February 10 in honour of the players who died in the fateful crash in 1958.

The club had already come under criticism for allowing a memorial mural to be sullied by the inclusion of their kit sponsors on the artwork and while the fee for the TV coverage is a piddling amount both decisions appear to suggest the club is quite happy to get some commercial leverage out of the tragedy.

Personally I don't really care about the disaster. It happened ten years before I was born and affected families of people I will probably never know. There are similar tragedies (wasteful deaths) happening every day of the year around the globe which fail to get the publicity they deserve and none will receive the media coverage of this event.

It would be interesting to know whether part of Man United's kit sponsorship deal included a clause stating the commercial logo should be part of any commemorative mural.

I have to admit to two anti-Manchester United events in my life. Confessing to them now does not feel to bad in the light of the club's effort to cash in on the disaster themselves.

When I worked as a betting shop manager in Huddersfield part of the job was to mark up the prices for any football match taking place that evening - correct score, half-time/full-time result and match odds, that type of thing. United were playing 1860 Munich in a European game but I could not help myself writing '1958 Munich'. Nobody noticed, by the way, but they were never the brightest bunch in Sheepridge. It was still wrong.

Anyhoo, (as my favourite blogger says) the next occasion came a couple of years later. After the independent company I worked for in Liverpool was taken over by Stanley Racing, I found myself confronted for the first time in my managerial career (managerial obviously used loosely) by a security manager.

To an honest lad like myself a security manager was just an annoyance and basically only gave me more paperwork to fill in and this particular bloke was a patronising, overweight ex-policeman who treated everyone as though they were a criminal and more to the point probably paid more than me for doing fuck all. To make matters worse he was a Man United fan.

He turned up one day to show me how to operate the new combination safe. It was hardly a difficult task to spin the wheel on the safe to one number between 1 and 100, twist it to another in the opposite direction and then back to a third chosen combination but he felt he had to pratonisingly show me.

"Right David," he said. "Give me a number between 1 and a hundred."

"Nineteen," I said.

"Great and another,"


"Well done and just one more"


Perhaps only Liverpool fans will get the last reference.

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