Writer Mick Clocherty says increasingly intense poppy-watching every year should have everyone worried
THE Department of Remembrance marches from classroom to workplace to ensure they're visible and fixed on properly. A poster in a train station urges citizens to make an anonymous phone call reporting military traitors to the state for not wearing one.
Bright red symbols adorn every street corner. All television screens are fixed to the image of a tearful leftwing academic apologising for their disrespectful views, before being pelted with rotten cabbage. The government brands an international organisation's policy on not fixing military symbols to jerseys in a sporting contest "utterly ridiculous". The national governing body of said sport resolves to wear them anyway.
Okay, that was all a bit deliberately North Korean apart from the last point, which also sounds like something a military-run totalitarian nightmare regime would do.
Isn't the whole thing a bit tacky? We're about two steps away from having footballers take to the pitch in giant poppy outfits.
Put down the red-top, and breathe.
Fifa has not "banned" the poppy, it has simply asked that we don't affix it to football jerseys during part of their competition – the same way it has always been.
Not even the United States national team would be arrogant and jingoistic enough to wear a jersey adorned with a "support the troops" accessory after being told it was against the rules.
It might seem like a callous and bureaucratic measure to take, but when we're dealing with an international competition there's a very good reason why we don't mix military tradition in football: there will always be a country you are offending.
I'm not writing another one of these 'Why I don't wear the poppy' liberal intellectual pieces. I don't have the tact, facts or emotional intelligence for it.
The poppy is supposed to be worn on a long coat by people standing around in the rain in quiet contemplation; the fact that in Britain it's something sponsored by Sky Bet should show you exactly which way we're going.
What I am saying is, ask yourself: why do we need a news story every year with some faux outrage around Remembrance Sunday? Why are they usually weirdly linked with football? If the poppy was really about quiet remembrance instead of a bizarre display of loyalty to the armed forces, why is there such a media uproar around people who take the decision not to wear one?
Isn't the whole thing a bit tacky? We're about two steps away from having footballers take to the pitch in giant poppy outfits. The poppy is supposed to be worn on a long coat by people standing around in the rain in quiet contemplation; the fact that in Britain it's something sponsored by Sky Bet should show you exactly which way we're going.
The poppy has been hijacked, politicised and is now not much more than a costume worn in a bizarre post-modern pro-war pantomime. It has its own hashtag, line of merchandise, and yes, even an emoji. Remember the fallen 🙂
I would love to check the news in early November and not have to read another article about how much of a scumbag James McClean is for taking the decision not to wear a poppy.
It has its own hashtag, line of merchandise, and yes, even an emoji. Remember the fallen 🙂
In fact, they've only been doing it in the Premier League since 2010, and in Scotland we took their lead, so it's not even like he's besmirching a great footballing tradition. The outrage is wholly manufactured, and that should worry you, or at least make you think.
We should confine this media Spanish Inquisition-style poppy frenzy to a dark, rightwing time in our respective countries' histories, and let the poppy become a dignified display of remembering the fallen the way it once was. I wish there was a poppy for people to wear in remembrance of the poppy.
Scotland and England should take to the field on Remembrance Day without them on their jerseys and stop pretending there's anything mournful or dignified about kicking a bit of leather around in front of tens of thousands of wooping and jeering fans.
Let's leave the poppy for cemeteries and cenotaphs, and stop worrying about spilling bovril down it.
Picture courtesy of Jim
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