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Monday, April 9, 2012

Alan Davies – an explanation:

I thought I should explain why I brought Alan Davies’ recent controversial comments to the attention of the Twittersphere and – in turn – our esteemed members of the media.

I also thought it worthwhile to answer some of the critics of my article, which has been followed up by the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, and the Mirror among others (although none of them were good enough to mention where they read it first).

Firstly I should stress that I have no personal grudge against Mr Davies. I -- like many bored late-night channel surfers -- have watched him play the role of the dim-but-amusing jester in QI on Dave. He seems the personification of affable. I haven’t watched Jonathan Creek yet but I’m sure I will one day. Actually I won’t but the point is I don’t have a problem with him. Indeed, the reason I downloaded his podcast was because I’m a football fan and thought it would be funny and a good listen – reviews suggested as much.

However, when he started sounding off about Liverpool refusing to play on the anniversary of Hillsborough I was genuinely taken aback. Let me be clear though: I was shocked not by the fact he honestly believes Liverpool should be willing to play on April 15th -- but by the manner in which he made his argument.

Some critics have claimed I used selective quotes and failed to point out that Davies realised the profound horror of Hillsborough. During the podcast he said: “Hillsborough is the most awful thing that’s happened in my life in terms of football -- one of the worst tragedies in English peacetime history.” But he only said this after more coaxing from co-host Ian Stone who said they shouldn’t “slag off” Liverpool’s decision to refrain from competing on April 15th. Of course Hillsborough was awful and a tragedy of historic proportions. The fact Davies said this did not erase the impact of his earlier insensitive rant.

Other critics have slated the way I wrote my piece. Fair do’s. I’m a journalist. I deliberately wrote the piece in a tabloid style to ensure it got traction and was noticed. If I’d written a dry article in the style of the FT this wouldn’t be being talked about and I wanted it to be.

Some people have said Davies’ “vermin” remarks were innocently made. Let be crystal clear: my article does not accuse Davies of racism and anyone who thinks otherwise is not reading what I have written. I accuse him of “breathtaking insensitivity”. Using the word “vermin” as a pejorative term is deeply unpleasant under any circumstances. When used against people associated with a football club like Tottenham, with its close ties to the Jewish community, the term takes on sinister undertones – whether these are intended or not. Even accepting that the last thing on Davies’ mind was that his words might have such an unholy resonance, he was naïve to say the least not to recognise this risk. A simple Google search will illuminate him – and others – of the clear association the word “vermin” has with the worst chapter in modern human history. Click here for an example.

To sum up, I wrote the piece I did because Alan Davies was – as a Gooner such as he might put it – “bang out of order”. He made his comments in a public space and my article ensured he would be judged on them in that arena. You live by the sword…


In a wider context I have a broader concern about football, a sport I love. Much of the discourse surrounding the game and at football matches is boorish, sexist, homophobic and – in some cases – racist. Deeply offensive songs and chants are regarded as “banter” and bad language is everywhere.

The game itself is being bought up by dubious characters from overseas bringing obscene reserves of money we can only hope they have honestly earned. The common man pays through the nose to see multi-millionaire mercenaries who switch clubs faster that Tiger Woods if more money is offered by another team, even an arch rival.

The relationship between fan and club has, in many cases, become an abusive one. The club exploits the fan, takes their money, pays no heed to their views and betrays them without a moment’s hesitation if it brings in more filthy lucre.

If Alan Davies has some outspoken comments to make he should aim his ire at the people who are turning football into a soulless franchise operation rather than make lazy and ill-thought out remarks that serve only to wound people who are already in pain.

Justice for the 96

Mr Bile


  1. Woeful excuse. You ommitted Alan's sympathetic tone because you craved "traction". For the same reason you were also the only person listening who attached his use
    of the word 'vermin' to the Nazi's

  2. Such a shame your imitation of tabloid sensationalism wasnt credited by your heroes. A shame also that a two bob Sun-esque blog sparked outrage on a sensitive subject by Scoucers who rightly deplore a two bob paper for using the same technique. Alan was insensitive, he's admitted this and apologised. You sought "traction" from such a topic. Wheres your apology?

    1. I'm not trying to make excuses Joe, merely provide more information. Most people seem to agree that Davies' comments were insensitive and offensive. And, sorry, but I do associate the word 'vermin' with the Nazis: it's hardly a term in common usage these days (apart from in the pest control business). And what is the point of writing a blog to generate discussion if you don't attempt to get traction? What caused this storm was his remarks - not my reporting of them.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Actually, setting aside the death threats on twitter (which were ridiculous), if you look at the like/dislike ratio on the youtube videos out there, and a lot of the comments below, the overwhelming sense I get is that a lot of people don't have much of a problem with what he said. Sure, most of us probably wouldn't have started with, "that gets on my tits, that shit", but that doesn't change the underlying points he made.

      I also disagree with your interpretation of his backtracking to saying Hillsborough was one of the worst disasters, if you listened to the podcasts at all regularly, you'll realise that when Ian Stone or whoever says, "yeah but we shouldn't slag them off", it's in a faux-devil's advocate way. If they actually disagreed with him they'd just say so.

      And finally, I think you probably were the only person out there connecting 'vermin' with the Nazis. He's referring to Arsenal's biggest rivals, you think he's gonna describe them on an Arsenal podcast in fluffy lovey-dovey language?

    4. In fact, even your own poll is currently reflecting the general trend of overwhelming support for Davies.

      I read the following online about this whole Davies/Hillsborough thing, and it's so true:

      Liverpool Football Club: Outraged by everything, ashamed of nothing.

  3. You're really milking this for all it's worth aren't you? No posts since December 2010 and then suddenly you write 4 posts on a complete non-story about comments made by a comedian on a podcast. Can't you get a proper job or something to occupy your time?

  4. Milking it in what sense? I haven't profited from this. I do have a job - hence no posts since 2010, I'm too busy. I won't be doing a story like this again, don't worry. Way too much hate out there already. I underestimated the vitriol that would ensue.

  5. Godwin's Law strikes again. Trying to accuse someone like Davies of anti-Semitism, just because a word was used by Adolf Hitler, is really pushing the envelope.

    Perhaps your next article will berate celebrity vegetarians for their "sinister" Mein Kampf-ian overtones?

  6. I went through all of those quotes you linked too as your example of the use of the word 'vermin'. The link to that and what Davies said was tenuous at best. It mentions once how 'Jews breed LIKE vermin', which is like saying they shag like rabbits, and if Davies said Spurs fans were rabbits would you have been just as disgusted? There's one other mention of that word out of many many quotes, and to be honest the rest of what they say is far far worse, its disgusting really! Picking that one quote out of all that hate just to try and make a totally unrelated comment seem worse to spread the hate and try to plunge Davies further into the mire is pretty irresponsible to be honest, but then again you are a journalist,..

  7. In an article about Hillsborough and Liverpool Football Club, supposed "journalist" Mr. Bile, states, "The club exploits the fan, takes their money, pays no heed to their views and betrays them without a moment’s hesitation if it brings in more filthy lucre".

    He went on to adopt some of the views expressed by Alan Davies regarding Hillsborough as his own, indicating that "Of course" he agreed with the sentiment. More troublingly, he indicated that the word "vermin", whether intended by the speaker or not, would always be synonymous with "Jewish" in his mind.

    I can't believe I just wrote something so stupid. Perhaps that should be the title of your next blog post.