By Alex Netherton & Andi Thomas
Protagonists aside, nobody really knows precisely what happened at this meeting between Liverpool’s director of communications Jen Chang and the no-longer-anonymous Liverpool fan responsible for largely-unfunny parody blogger Duncan Jenkins. The allegations are there, have been sort-of-not-really denied by Chang, and it appears that Ian Ayre is ready to get off his Harley Davidson and do some investigating. Alternatively, perhaps they could ask Luis Suarez to revisit his bellyflop, that normally gets people nice and distracted.
Let’s not get this twisted, let’s run through the idiocy. It seems like because Jen Chang hasn’t resigned, most of the newspapers seem largely unwilling to make this story get the attention it deserves, which is a lot. Granted, there’s been some riotously exciting stories going on with the England football team, but it’s thoroughly perplexing that, until today at least, the non-denial denial seemed to have quietened down the whole business.
And what a denial it was! ‘I won’t comment on nonsense,’ he says, commenting on it. He says there was no investigation by Liverpool, which is nice, but since the allegation was of an investigation by Chang, irrelevant. He stated that his Tweets were misquoted; the problem’s with the emails, and with the CCTV footage showing the two of them at the meeting. He says he won’t talk about accusations by a parody writer, but the accusations were by his creator, not the character. It’s almost as if he’s Guilty as Hell.
There’s a darker edge to this, though. First up, let’s consider Jen Chang’s assertion that football fans in general, and Liverpool fans in particular and even more so, are a certain type of person. He is alleged to believe that, if there’s not enough time to melt down three hundred Fruit ‘n’ Nut bars, his club’s committed followers are industrious and intelligent enough to gather together handfuls of dog muck, and introduce it to The Real Duncan Jenkins’ letterbox.
Then let’s consider the allegation that this was all funded with money diverted from potential charity. Add into that the weird web of message-passing intermediaries, including prominent journalists with sensuously coiffed ‘dos, and this Lisbeth Salander fantasy becomes clear: hunting down a man on the internet who has done great wrong/tweeted some guff is basically the same. Look, if you disagree with me, I will ram dog muck into your letterbox so fast!
This is the first of the two lessons from all this: despite his apparently denigrating them as mindless automatons who would simply march out to bat for the club at the click of a finger, plenty of Liverpool fans have reacted like mindless automatons, and marched out to bat for Chang at the click of a finger. Jenkins had cost them money. Chang was just defending the club. Anything that Liverpool does is correct.
It’s not that far-fetched, in fairness: the greatest trick the people that run football clubs ever pulled was convincing fans that true fandom consists not in holding the club and the club’s people to the highest and most rigorous standards for the sake of the badge you profess to love, but in blind, facile, unthinking loyalty. Getting them to wear shit on their shirts with pride is not much but a footnote, and anybody not displaying this loyalty gets their season ticket taken away.
The second lesson’s more fun though. Whatever actually happened—details are for squares and for lawyers—what matters is this: the man went to a meeting with a fictional character. When it comes to comedy, while superfunny malapropisms and uberloltastic spelling errors will get you plenty of Twitter followers, to really amuse the entire nation’s footballing fraternity, there’s no easier way than simply Being: Liverpool.