Time for a total eclipse of The Sun

Ben Mountain

If there’s one thing that makes England a country to be even remotely ashamed of, it’s the Sun newspaper.

To avoid any difficulties further into this piece, let’s quickly do some housekeeping. If you’re somehow deranged enough to advocate a hate-filled, vacuous and infectious publication that sadly poisons the minds of 1.6 million Britons a day; please do us a favour.

1) Stop reading this. 2) Go and find an industrial-sized jet wash. 3) Use it to forcibly remove any of the trash that is likely clogged in your brain, preventing your most vital cognitive functions from working like a normal human’s do.

Get right deep. Get right through all the migrant bashing, woman ogling and poor people demonising and scour your way down to a skewed, fabricated and heartbreaking portrayal of the people of Liverpool. Clean that out. Bin it. Are you ready to continue? If not, please follow step one and then go away.

And as for the rest, please allow us to continue. Housekeeping over.

Since what was possibly English football’s most tragic day, 15th April 1989 – the Hillsborough disaster – the Sun newspaper have acquired quite the negative following in many footballing circles.

After their viscous front page that was (ironically, at best) dubbed ‘The Truth’, and the subsequent false allegations that condemned traumatised Liverpudlians who, only the previous day, watched as their fellow fans were trampled to death, Merseyside took up its war on the Sun.

Shops stopped selling it. People would not mention its name. Those who worked for the publication were forced into lying when asked who their employer was. The people of Liverpool were in a battle against the country’s most read tabloid. And they were determined to win.

Since then, ‘Don’t Buy The Sun’ has become a justly popular movement. In addition, many have taken to labelling the paper the ‘S*n’, in apparent disgust. They’re quite right to do so, too.

For those who don’t know, ‘The Truth’ supposedly related to three things. Please bare in mind that not one of them were true.

Some fans picked pockets of victims
Some fans urinated on the brave cops
Some fans beat up PCs giving the kiss of life

The Sun front page, 16th April 1989

You don’t need us to underline the utterly vile implications of these venomous falsities.

Anyway, 28 years down the line and the Sun are still held in very low standings for the people of Liverpool. Sadly, this feeling has not yet been reciprocated across the country. Although, among football fans, the paper does thankfully rank somewhere between Robbie Savage and wring worm in terms of popularity.

And now, as you may have heard, the Sun have continued to rot in their subhuman levels of sensitivity. Everything else aside, both politically and socially, the Sun still somehow manage to offend and sicken those who are unfortunate enough to lay eyes upon its vitriolic words.

Yes, even in the joyous world of football; this happy little red-top managed to disregard an entire city, use arguably racist descriptions and, wait for it, all on the day before the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Yep, the very same event that they systematically used to vilify the most desperate and heartbroken people in England. Here’s what they said.

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Now, before you break down in despair, fits of appalled laughter or stunned silence; note this. The man who wrote that vile little sidebar is Kelvin MacKenzie: the editor of the Sun in 1989. The very same man who commissioned ‘The Truth’. The very same man who condemned the lives of hundreds to a reputation of some savage under-class, almost deserving of the tragedy that had struck their proud city.

That very same man had the audacity, lack of foresight and completely inhumane loss of sensitivity almost exactly 28 years on from his first chilling onslaught.

Words cannot describe. Although thankfully, for MacKenzie, they can. The words were “drug dealers” on the one hand and people who hadn’t “broken through the £7.50-an-hour wage barrier” on the other. That’s Liverpool, guys. Summed up in one neat little comparison. Take note. Mackenzie should know; he was the one that crafted this damning narrative in the first place.

So, naturally, the world of football hit back. Following on from a Liverpool move that saw the Sun banned from Anfield and their training ground, Melwood, the fellow Merseyside club Everton have now banned them from both Goodison Park and Finch Farm. Top stuff.

More recently however, the National League club Tranmere Rovers have also confirmed that they too have banned the Sun from matches and training. Sadly, this move will impact the paper very little. It does however raise an alarming question.

If a small-time club like Tranmere can have the moral fibre to ban the Sun, why on earth do England’s top clubs not?

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As a point of principle, you would have thought that this would be a cause that English football unites together and agrees on. No? There is not one valid argument behind supplementing this paper with access to a sport that it used as a medium to convey its sickening message in. Not one.

Surely, if the ‘beautiful game’ really does have the impactful grace and morality that we like to think it does; this would be one of the first examples of showing it. If teams like Manchester United, City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea all stood up to the glaring horror that is the Sun, then the world of football would truly be making a stand.

It may not end the malady that is the paper’s vast circulation but it certainly would impact it. But, more than just that, it would broadcast a much needed message.

In the era of ‘fake news’ and the ever present manipulation of what can sometimes be a viscous British media, rejecting lies and fabrication in our newspapers is more important than ever.

Furthermore, it would be replacing the lost justice of that day in April 1989. A day that should have been joyous and wonderful. A celebration of our brilliant sport. Not a day that saw 96 innocent football fans, like everyone reading this, not return home to their homes and their families. And certainly not one that should have been hijacked for the twisted agenda of a newspaper that serves to divide, disturb and sicken this country.

So, it’s now high time to make that stand and make it for the victims of Hillsborough.

Not only for the 96, but for the city they loved, too. For the people who were stigmatised as animalistic and deserving of their loved one’s fate. To do it for those people, to re-invoke just the tiniest glimmer of hope into this divided country and to dent the unwavering malevolence of this despicable paper.

It’s time for a total eclipse of the Sun.

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