England Football: “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, understanding (er, and intelligent surrender)?”

Mark Perryman, who runs Philosophy Football has an interesting argument on a latter day tradition at England football matches. In advance of this week’s England v Republic of Ireland at Wembley he notes:

For as long as I’ve been a travelling England fan (my first game was Moldova away in 1996), a decent proportion of England fans have used the musical pause after the third line of God Save the Queen to insert “No Surrender” with as much volume and defiance as they can manage. And as the action ebbs and flows on the pitch – especially when it ebbs – the chant will go up again: “No surrender, no surrender, no surrender to the IRA scum!”

Not everybody joins in, but enough do to ensure the sentiment is firmly established as part and parcel of what being an England fan is – whether we like it or not (in my case and plenty of other fans’ case, the latter). The FA know all this only too well, but over the years they’ve put their hands over their collective ears and wished it would go away. Well, it hasn’t. On some occasions, they have cranked up the volume for the poor opera singer belting out God Save the Queen, in the hope no one will hear the unofficial fourth line. Fat chance that will work on Wednesday.

After listing the things that ‘imperial England has actually surrendered (and prospered from) he concludes:

I personally don’t go to England matches to sing No Surrender for the same reason that you won’t find me at Wembley on Wednesday night trying to raise a chant of “No Privatisation”: I leave my politics at the turnstile. But simply banning the chant won’t work, nor will demonising those who join in. We don’t need diktats, but dialogue about what we have surrendered and why some of those surrenders have made sense. A conversation about how a political and peaceful solution to one of the bloodiest terror campaigns of postwar Europe was found. An admission that both sides surrendered and found peace instead.


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