‘Who Put The Ball In The Munichs’ Net?’

Chris Wright

26th, April 2011


By Chris Wright

Firstly, a brief disclaimer. I am not a Manchester United fan, nor am I a Manchester City fan. I have no ties, affinity or preference for either Manchester club and the following article is written from a staunchly neutral, human perspective – and when ‘supporters’ are mentioned I am, of course, referring solely to the audible minority.

During last night’s Premier League tie between Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers a fine twist on one of football’s time-honoured cross-city jibes reared it’s ugly head when hordes of City fans began chanting about the Munich air disaster once again.

One more time with feeling boys, from the top! “Who put the ball in the Munichs’ net?”

Granted, it’s not a direct reference to the event itself – more an abstract name-drop – but, non-the-less, referring to United as ‘The Munichs’ in any capacity is still a venomous barb weighted with hatred…tiny-minded, almost-entirely-ignorant hatred.

Not to say that the riling of any given club’s dead is the sole preserve of the City fans alone (United supporters themselves have long chanted about Hillsborough/Heysel, etc… and similar chants plague clubs and rivalries the world over), but it’s fair to say that the boys – in fact, who am I trying to kid? the grown men – in blue have had themselves some good mileage out of the tragic events of  6th Feb, 1958.

After first cottoning-on to what the City fans were chanting at the far end of Ewood Park, I initially considered that perhaps the numb lack of compassion and humility could be put down to the fact that the tragedy no-longer seems relevant to the younger generation of cerebrally-stymied moron – that the pain and grief, as with most major disasters, has somehow become secular, irreverent and profane with the passage of time.

Then, almost immediately, came the flooding wash of realisation that there really can be no excuse – human tragedy should never be used as leverage to brashly brag, to wind-up, to merely bait opposing fans at a f*cking football match. People died.

One day prior to City’s game against Blackburn, the BBC screened their intensely moving dramatisation of the Munich disaster, called simply and fittingly ‘United’.

Sat in silent reverie for the duration, I’m not ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears while watching the programme when it aired on Sunday night, not because it was anything to do with a club that I feel any affinity towards, but because it was one more in the never-ending cavalcade of reminders that football is – and will always only ever be – little more than a game and, in turn, that it is the people, the characters on the stage, that have plied the sport with it’s massive, groaning emotional legacy.

Sitting through ‘United’ didn’t swell my pride in the stricken club’s oft-vaunted refusal to go under after being decimated and razed to the ground by catastrophe, nor did it heighten my respect for Jimmy Murphy and his indefatigable faith – it simply coerced me into the re-realisation that the shadows of such footballing tragedies are never entirely banished and, latterly, just how ridiculously empty my initial conclusion re: the reasoning behind City fans chants at Ewood the following day was.

As I don’t overly care for either club involved, the fact that I was riled by this most recent batch of Munich chants (when it usually wouldn’t register beyond an irked tut) can only be attributed to the fact that my dander was up after softly weeping through ‘United’ the day before – but that it exactly the point.

As football fans, we are seldom, if ever, offered the opportunity to forget about our beloved sport’s beloved dead and the sanctity with which they deserve to be treated.

With minute’s silences hither and tributes scattered thither, the simple train of though that such tragedies are gradually fading from modern memory cannot be the case – though maybe, with the heaving expansion of the clubs involved and of football in general, it’s perhaps inevitable that personal ties to the heartache are now being lost or phased out –  especially given that seldom few young or ‘new’ supporters seem to possess the wont or wherewithal to be sat down and truly educated on the intense effect that such greivances had on communities at large.

Munich ’58 was a Mancunian tragedy, both sides witnessed needless deaths that served to tear the heart out of city, witnessed by it’s population at first hand – regardless of the entirely superfluous notion of their footballing divide.

Sad as it may seem, I sincerely hope that these slobbering trogs chant with such gleeful abandon because they simply don’t realise what emotional forces they’re toying with, sending the most offensive things their limp synapses can possibly fathom caterwauling around the terraces to try and get a rise –  as the only other feasible explanation to my mind is that the simple notion of inter-human empathy must be slowly corroding away from the inside out.

Posted in Featured, Man City, Man Utd, Opinion

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  1. Neil Crosby says:

    I am a City fan of over 55 years and I have to say I have never been so ashamed of some of our so called fans at Blackburn last night. There can be no excuse for such evil behaviour. As this excellent article says – people died, including City’s greatest ever goalkeeper Frank Swift.

    This behaviour must stop and stop now. Real City fans are much, much better than this, the best in the country.

  2. Anonymous says:

    chris are you sure that such a chant was in reference, however minor, towards the munich air disaster?

    i myself am a bolton supporter and know we use an identical chant of ‘who put the ball in the munich net’ before shouting the name of ‘super’ kevin davies, of course with reference to kevin davies goal against bayern away in the uefa cup..nothing sinister.

    i think the rest of the article is spot on and have heard such awful chants and plane noises before ‘who’s that lying on the run-way’ being one of particfular disgust and something that has no place within the game we love

  3. Petey says:

    Good piece!…I really feel like their is no place for jibes like this or Uniteds “without murdering anyone we won it 3 times”.I enjoy the chants and piss taking and the humor involved is fundamentally British football,but chants like this are just distasteful and it takes away from Man City fans credibility.I thought they were well supported last night and have been all season but something like this runs it for the supporters as a whole.

  4. Alan says:

    As a City supporter and season ticket holder for over 40 years I agree with the other posters that this sort of chanting is disgraceful and shames our great club. It has to stop.

  5. Chris says:

    @Anonymous: A bit of perfectly forgiveable wishful thinking there I reckon. The City chant was a reference to Yaya Toure’s winning goal in the FA Cup semi-final t’other week.

  6. Simon12 says:

    City look like they`ve secured 4th in the final of the fa cup, nothing to mock the team about so lets have a go at the fans. Don`t forget to say how good `Arry is as well.

  7. Sid says:

    Totally agree that these kind of chants are disgusting and I cant understand how anyone can show so much malice towards a disaster regardless of the hatred of one club to another. However, it amazes me how many articles have been printed about this today, these chants have been going on for years and, might I add, not just by City fans but we have not seen anything about any other club.
    Like I said, I hate the chants and the people that do them, but I also hate the fact that every man and his dog is jumping on the City bashing bandwagon. One other point, its our own club that is trying to stamp out these chants but wheres the praise for the board in trying to iradicate it?

  8. Jimbo says:

    Absolutely disgusting. Nothing new though unfortunately. They don’t have much to mock us for, so they mock the dead.

  9. Alan M says:

    I was there and it bothered me greatly that we have so many mindless cretins supporting our great club. At a time when City are fair game for everyone to criticise why on earth do the morons give the critics such easy and plentyful ammunition. What on earth was wrong with sing “who put the ball in United’s net?” Almost makes me want to give up my season ticket

  10. fairwayblue says:

    No excuses whatsoever for City fans with the boring references to Munich. HOWEVER when the club in question has a band of hooligans who like to call themselves ” the young munich’s” it points more to the fact that our young society know little of nor care for what actually happened in 1958. Munich 58 is now a name and not an event for some, and is the only means or recourse for those who can play the banjo and like to squeal like a pig down in the everglades.
    Manchester City will stop the chants at games because they are embarressed just like most City fans are, but by far the worst offenders at football matches for anti social behaviour are Manchester United and they will never stop why, because they think because they are the biggest club in football they can do what they want and unfortunatley the banjo players use Munich because its all they have

  11. Mark says:

    Petey… you claim city have been well supported all season… ” 20,000 empty seats, are you f*cking sure” ?!!!

  12. jimbo says:

    City are not alone in having fans who sing sick things. For example, United regularly air songs about Russian submarines, Hillsborough, and bonfires with scousers and city fans thrown in. They’re probably worse than us in that respect.

    I personally hate the “Munich” stuff but I don’t think we should try and cut out all offensive chanting at football. It would remove some of whatever is left of the atmosphere INSIDE the stadium, which is constantly being diluted for the viewing pleasure of those OUTSIDE the stadium, sat in their comfy, high moral chairs.

  13. Andrew Thompson says:

    Great piece.

    Im 18 and didnt really know much about Munich, the drama ‘United’ was good for us youngsters, I didnt reise how many players actually died.

    terrible event.

  14. CMDG says:

    It’s definitely common for opposing sets of fans to sing about disasters that have happened. Celtic fans sing about the ibrox disaster all the time

  15. Anonymous says:

    Great article and United was a great drama, I cried too :-)

  16. Alex says:

    I’m a City fan_ I had the chore of travelling with the Didsbury City supporters branch to our recent Wembley win. They made references to Munich every other song. I’d say they were drunk but most of them looked born drunk. I hate coach travel to games for this reason. Your trapped there & back with morons who unfortunatley wear the same colours as you. It’s sad, it’s wrong and you can’t talk any sense in to em. NO EXCUSE GOOD ENOUGH.

  17. Dave M says:

    Being at school in Hulme at the time of the disaster there were more City fans in my class than United. By the time the 1958-59 season started I was the only City fan. They had all transfered to United. Whilst on one level it was understandable, on another it was absolutely galling. Many I met in later years claimed to have always been United fans. I knew different and referred to these people as ‘Munich Converts’. It is only a brief step to calling them ‘Munichs’.

    The “Who’s That Lying on the Runway” song is despicable. Anyone doing aeroplane gestures wants shooting. However, I am not at all convinced that pointing out that a sizeable proportion of United’s massive support came about because of an (understandable)sympathy vote is quite the sin the article suggests. It is also an article that has been written so many times before.

  18. mflatley says:

    what about the clock that reads “35 years”?

  19. UkePunk says:

    Nicely written sir..

  20. Alfie says:

    As someone posted earlier the City fans that do sing this song should realise that Frank Swift one of their greatest goalkeepers also died in the crash.

  21. tossah says:

    lol @ the english, gettin all butt hurt when they sing songs about some dead guys no one knows, yet, they sung songs about 9/11 and the Gulf Oil Spill at the WC in South Africa when the US was playing, not like i care for yank scum any damn ways. but the english are cunts, boo fucking hoo

  22. chet says:

    Not to create a false-equivalency, but if we’re talking about eliminating disgusting chants just to get a rise out of the opposition, what about the “Sit down you pedophile” Wenger chant? Again, I recognize that this is a non-specific chant and you have to draw the line somewhere between an innocent jibe and a widely hurtful statement, but the insensitivity is still there, the people who have been scarred by pedophilia can still hear it. Makes my toes curl every time I hear it come out of the WHL or OT rafters.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The Munich Chanting it disgraceful, but for the younger fan who were not affected by the events it is now just another name to use a an acceptable norm just like the term rag,, this is not an excuse and they need to be educated about it’s meaning for my generation growing up in the 70’s it was used more as a reaction to the shameful way united exploited the tragedy for commercial gain and the and the real truth about there despicable actions after the event. Following Munich, Man United’s treatment of their injured players was nothing short of disgusting.
    Jackie Blanchflower, who never played following the crash, was immediately told to vacate the club-owned house he lived in.
    Johnny Berry, another never to play again, was sent an end-of-employment notice in the post and evicted from his house also.
    Albert Scanlon, for who the crash meant his previously agreed transfer to Arsenal couldn’t take place,was told to stop using taxis while on crutches as the club wouldn’t pay for them.
    In 1998 the nine players who survived were invited to attend that years European Cup Final, Roy Wood said it was the first thing he got from the club, at a benefit match Cantona got twice as much as each family.

    I do not condone the action of our fans on monday but as previously commented I have been to many a derby and watched United goading our fans with aeroplane signs and chanting where’s your famous Munich song and then balloonig about in disgust when it then gets sung

  24. UkePunk says:

    Nice to see so many sensible replies; along with the moronic childish spiteful bitter rubbish that you begrudgingly have to accept has become commonplace amongst certain pathetic individuals in our society today.
    The fact that these spineless people wish to remain anon. shows exactly what they are made of.
    Thankyou again for this fantastic unbiased article

  25. Red Peter says:

    Beautifully written Chris, nice one. The sooner that ALL needlessly offensive chants (tragedy/paedophilia/religious/racist) are eradicated from the game, the better – it’s just as simple as that.

  26. Coolie says:

    I find all this chanting absolutely vile, but it must be pointed out that it is far from a one club problem. As a Liverpool fan I hate to hear the munich songs, and it must be said its from a very very small pig headed minority. I remember a video on youtube of some guy singing it and getting booed and told where to go. Uniteds own fans are some of the worst culprits though with songs of hillsborough, heysel and the Michael Shields song with the words ‘ten more years for Michael Shields’. For me United fans sing the most about other clubs when really it should be the other way around, you are the most successful club in modern british football so celebrate this and forget about building bonfires and prolonging peoples jail sentences.

    I cant see a solution to the problem however, if people nowadays are willing to stab and shoot each other at the drop of a hat they are not going to care about hurting someones feelings.

  27. derek says:

    hey coolie. whats wrong about michael shields chant? Did he died? NO! Is he is a fucking criminal? Yes!.There are differences between our chants or Munich chats. You guys are making fun of dead people. We guys are making fun of people who murdered someone. you guys didn’t know what is hillborough/heysel chant or michael shields chant at all. Did we disrespect the DEAD? NO! DID we disrespect the murderers/crimanals? YES. Damn michael shields are fucking criminal, poor Bulgarian . Damn fucking liverpool fans murdered their own fans and poor juventus fans, and till now they still don/t wanna admit is their fault. Therefore please use your common sense and think what these chants are about!

  28. Coolie says:

    Derek, I rest my case. Complete clown

  29. Chris T says:

    I think clowns have a better grasp of grammar tbh.

  30. Anonymous says:

    fair point chris, wishful thinking just about sums it up..anyway fantasitic site keep it up!

  31. Soccer Professional says:

    *Munich’s, not Munichs’.

  32. RT says:

    The best post I’ve come across covering disgusting fans behaviour, and to be honest, such fans need to be banned for life, sing in your homes if it pleases you so much

  33. Steven says:

    Not that I condone this but….United never sing about Hillsborough, do they? (sarcasm)

    Some absolute hypocrites around.

  34. Andrew Scanlan says:

    I am a Manchester City fan & find the chant very distasteful they could have easily have swapped the word Munich for Stretford which wouldn’t offend anyone. However if United fans are hurt by this chant perhaps they could stop chanting songs about wishing Malcolm Glazer was dead & slicing him from head to toe which I feel is as offensive as Yaya chant.

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