Last on MOTD: Don’t forget your poppy, Ryan

IS it poppy power or poppy fascism? Depends whether you read the Daily Mail or the Guardian, I guess. No one ever got this worked up over Comic Relief’s red noses, though.

The same point has been made over and over again this week in response to the Mail’s campaign to get all 20 Premier League teams to wear embroidered poppies on their shirts to mark Remembrance Day: Shouldn’t they have the right to choose?

Marina Hyde made that point most stridently on Thursday in the Guardian, a paper which never knowingly agrees with the Mail on anything.

“With a tedious inevitability, the Daily Mail’s campaign to divide the whole of Britain into people who wear poppies and people who are subhuman scumbags has reached the Premier League,” she wrote, going on to argue that the Second World War, in particular, was fought so that people might have freedom of choice in their lives.

When the Mail’s campaign began at the start of the week, 12 top-flight clubs had applied for permission to wear poppies on their shirts this weekend. Of the eight who hadn’t, Portsmouth, Fulham and Aston Villa relented on Tuesday, Blackburn and Stoke did so on Wednesday. By Thursday, only Manchester United, Liverpool and Bolton were left.

As the Mail’s campaign gathered momentum, there was a surreal finish to an article in Thursday’s edition, in which the paper requested comments from United, Liverpool and Bolton – then referred to each response as an excuse. But as Bolton didn’t offer a comment, the paper ended up with this:

BOLTON’S EXCUSE – Club statement: No comment.

By Thursday night, Bolton too had agreed to wear poppies. It meant that all of the players featured on last night’s Match of the Day had poppies on their shirts. Well, nearly all of them.

Last night’s final match: Blackburn 3 Portsmouth 1
Commentator: Alistair Mann

Ryan Nelsen is not known for his goalscoring prowess. It took the defender 136 games and more than four years to score his first goal for Blackburn, having arrived from US club DC United in January 2005. But it only took him another 18 matches to get his second, so I suppose he is on something of a roll.

Nelsen’s second Rovers goal gave them the lead against Portsmouth yesterday, after Jason Roberts had cancelled out Jamie O’Hara’s first-half opener for Portsmouth. Roberts, who also scored Blackburn’s third, clearly had a poppy on his shirt. But when Nelsen celebrated, he didn’t.

I can only assume that Nelsen did have a poppy on his shirt when he started the game – then had to change it for some reason, and the replacement was not appropriately embroidered. (If there was a shirt change, it was edited out of the MOTD highlights.)

Will the absence of a poppy on his shirt lead to Nelsen being vilified? Or will a bit of common sense prevail? You know, I think it might be a close-run thing.

For the record, I did buy a poppy. And I did so because I wanted to.


1. Portsmouth: 4 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
2. Everton: 3 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
3. Wigan: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
4. Gubba: 2 (GD: 2. 2L: 1.)
5. West Ham: 2 (GD: 1. 2L: 1.)
6. Blackburn: 2 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
7. Hull: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
8=. Stoke: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
8=. Wolves: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
10=. Bolton: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
10=. Birmingham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
12. Fulham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
13. Aston Villa: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
14. Sunderland: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
15. Burnley: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
16=. Arsenal: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
16=. Chelsea: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
16=. Tottenham: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
19=. Liverpool: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
19=. Manchester City: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
19=. Manchester United: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)

GD = Gubba difference
2L = On second last (Last night’s penultimate match was: Tottenham 2 Sunderland 0.)

(NB. Teams will receive one point for every time they appear last on MOTD. Appearances on MOTD2 are not included. Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference – the number of times a team is on last with Tony Gubba commentating. Teams still level will then be separated by the number of times they appear second last on MOTD.)


6 Responses to Last on MOTD: Don’t forget your poppy, Ryan

  1. Chopper says:

    I also noticed that Burnley didn’t appear to have any poppies on their shirts. I’m sure there’s a simple explanation for that but it made me chuckle that they’d managed to avoid any flak from the paper without making any change to their kit. Totally agree with your point about the Mail’s pious attitude (I only buy it for the telly times!) although I do think it’s a worthwhile gesture for clubs to make.

  2. mikewhalley says:

    You’re absolutely right about the Burnley shirts – and I didn’t notice when I was watching the highlights!

    They did, though, wear poppies on their shirts against Hull last week, so they should escape public outrage.

    I think in Blackburn’s case, a few of their players changed their shirts at half-time, having got drenched in the first half, and the replacements weren’t embroidered. (David Dunn doesn’t seem to have a poppy on his shirt either in the photos which show him celebrating one of Jason Roberts’ goals.)

  3. Chopper says:

    Cool. Any idea who the first team to wear poppies were? I had a feeling it might have been Bolton last season.

  4. mikewhalley says:

    I’ve read in several places that it was Leicester in 2002. A handful of clubs adopted the idea after that, but it’s only really become popular over the last couple of years.

  5. Donna says:

    If they want poppies at the game, here’s a solution: home team provides two wreaths, one for each captain. Put on pitch and observe silence, then remove and take to local centotaph. No messing about with kit, or embroidery, or insults to the poppyless. Obviously it won’t catch on, it’s too simple. And it’s never a bad thing to annoy the Daily Mail, in my opinion.

  6. mikewhalley says:

    Far too simple, Donna. Of course, clubs could just make a donation to the Royal British Legion – which the vast majority have done (kit poppies or no kit poppies).

    It does raise the question: Is it more important to do something or to be seen to do something?

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