It was just a group of lads expressing genuine concerns about extremism. They were not racists, not Islamophobes, just a peaceful bunch whose only common bond was through football. Their march in London had passed off peacefully and there had been no arrests. Diane Abbott and all those Stand Up To Racism people were wrong. That was the schtick of the Football Lads Alliance. And it was so much tosh.
So much about what the FLA tell us is somewhere between spin and outright dishonesty. While one sympathetic Tweeter claimed “The70,000 FLA march against terror in London on oct7th,was ignored by the media as it didn't fit in with their game of 'dumbing down people’”, the Mail, Evening Standard and Independent all covered the march.
Hence our being made aware that the FLA was founded by one John Meighan, who claims to be a Spurs fan, although whether the club is happy about his allegiance is not known. Meighan was stopped by Police at Stansted Airport in 2006 while trying to board a flight for Nice. It was believed he had been intending to go on from there to Germany and cause trouble at that year’s World Cup. He was banned from all matches in the UK for 3 years.
Indeed, as was reported at the time, “Magistrates slapped Meighan with a three-year banning order which prevents him from going within two miles of any regulated football match four hours before or after kick-off … He is also banned from entering any UK town or city for games involving Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient and was ordered to pay £5,000 costs”. That, sadly was not sufficient to deter Meighan.
In June 2011, the Tottenham Journal told readers “Three football thugs have been jailed for their part in an organised clash between dozens of fans at the end of a Premier League match … Spurs fan John Meighan, 26, of … Westminster, received [a] suspended prison sentence of nine months”. Meighan and seven others “were banned from attending Premier League games for between four and six years, must surrender their passports before England games overseas, are banned from going within two miles of their club’s ground before and after any match, and from entering any town hosting an away match with their club”. And then there was Stephen Yaxley Lennon.
This Zelo Street favourite, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, attended Saturday’s march and later told “Every lad that I spoke to yesterday was there to oppose Islam” (he has since deleted the Tweet). So the idea that the FLA is merely opposed to extremism is already looking a little shaky. So are the claims of peaceful protest.
As the Independent’s report, backed up by video footage, tells, one man on the march told their reporter “Muslims aren’t part of the country … They don’t mingle. They send their kids to madrassas. We’re being overrun and can’t say nothing about it. If you say so you get called racist”. But it’s only about terrorism and extremism, honestly.
Then, while walking past a small counter demonstration who stood silently, holding a banner proclaiming “No to Islamophobia”, marchers swore, hurled beer cans and coins, and shouted “who the f****** hell are you?”, “Mug. I’ll f****** open you up”, “They shouldn’t be here … F****** paedophiles”. But it’s just a peaceful group of lads.
And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything. More on the FLA later.