Tributes, dark suits and a bit of dissent as football marks the death of the Queen

Strolling through London on a Saturday afternoon, the time of week when football shirts of all colors are seen as people traverse the capital to get to matches, it’s easy to find your way around if you get lost.

If the crowd of people with flowers walks in the opposite direction from you, you are walking away from the real monuments of the city. If they’re by your side, you head in the direction of Buckingham Palace, where people have spent days paying their respects to the country’s longest-reigning monarch, or walking alongside the longest queue in the country.

For the first time since the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, which led to the controversial suspension of all matches for the following weekend, English football had a (nearly) full slate of games, with a handful of matches still pending. to the record demand for police numbers in London and the regional forces collaborating.

As games began across the country, managers and even TV pundits used black or muted shades to mark the occasion. In the stadiums, fans paused before kick-off to observe a minute of silence and sing the newly reformulated national anthem, God Save The King. Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe even switched from a black suit for the tributes to a black tracksuit for the game.

Clubs decided to dispense with the usual pre-match music, but there was raucous applause for 70 minutes of most games to mark the number of years the Queen has spent on the throne.

These actions were widely supported, though not by all, particularly in Scotland, where supporters including those of Celtic and Dundee United showed their dissent.

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the athletic He toured the capital on the day of the match, speaking with fans from various clubs about the impact of these historic days on national football.


It is almost a cliché that supporting a football club is a secular religion. He has blind faith, communal worship, and a deep sense of community in a world that feels increasingly fragmented.

Over the last 10 days, the monarchy has had a similar effect on many, though not all, in Britain and beyond, touching football as it has touched everything else.

In the days after her death, the queen’s body was transported south from Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she died and now lies in Westminster Hall ahead of Monday’s funeral.

The public can see the Queen’s coffin until 6:30am BST on Monday and the demand has been quite staggering.

The Queue, as it is known internationally, is 10 miles long, with signs around London saying the wait is 14 hours. At one point it closed, having reached a 24 hour wait, with a secondary queue to join The Queue opened.

But many are content to simply place a few flowers near the palace to pay their respects, or just see what all the fuss is about.

Nick and Mark, both Leicester City season ticket holders, traveled from the Midlands to watch their team play Tottenham in the final match and visited the palace before heading north to London.

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“Any time we have a London club we try to get through the day,” says Mark, who was excited about his first visit to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (at least before it ended in a 6-2 loss).

Nine days after the initial shock of the Queen’s death, the mood for some is more one of curiosity and a sense of being at the heart of a historic occasion, rather than intense grief and sadness.


Nick (left) and Mark (right), Leicester City fans

Further along, towards Green Park, which has been boarded up due to the huge crowds pouring into central London, a group of Tottenham fans going to the same game meet at the spot where flowers have been laid out for days.

“We wanted to pay our respects,” said Graham, who lives in Aldershot, an hour southwest of London, and is seeing the tributes in person before heading to the game.

The Houses of Parliament loom over the Royal Park, and these world-famous landmarks will feature prominently in coverage of Monday’s funeral.

For those who want to join The Queue, which stretches to the south and east of the city, head to Southwark Park.

There is little in the way of football allegiances on display at The Queue, although as one security guard who has spent hours watching the crowd puts it: “If you were watching the Queen, would you wear a football shirt?”

It’s a fair point.

The shooting guard says he missed David Beckham the day before, the former England captain praised for queuing up with the crowd rather than using his connections to skip the wait. Beckham is said to have queued for 13 hours.

“The most special moment for me was receiving my OBE. I took my grandparents with me, who were great monarchists,” she told Sky News.

“I was so lucky to be able to have a few moments like this in my life to be close to Her Majesty. It’s a sad day, but a day to remember.”


Beckham was said to have been in line for 13 hours (Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A 15 minute walk from the rear of The Queue is The Den, home to Millwall FC who play in England’s second division.

The club is known for its patriotic working-class supporters (although it has also been dogged by fan disorder at times over the years). There is no minute of silence today because the English Football League teams played during the week and held their tributes then.

But a sense of occasion is in the air around The Den as start time approaches.

Aysha Smith and Sue Adamson are sisters who sell The Lion Roars, which bills itself as “Millwall’s supporters’ alternative magazine”, on sale for £2 outside the stadium.


Aysha, left, and Sue with their commemorative fanzine

The commemorative edition of the fanzine features a photo of the Queen attending a Millwall game as a teenager.

The Leones are not the only club that sees a link with the monarch. Millwall’s fierce rivals West Ham claim the Queen as a fan after she allegedly spoke of her admiration for legendary Hammers boss Ron Greenwood.

It has a particular connection to East London after the area was devastated by German bombs during World War II, opening the redeveloped West Stand at the Boleyn Ground in 2002.

Arsenal fans are also proud to be the only team invited to Buckingham Palace in 2007, after the Queen was unable to attend the opening of the club’s new stadium the previous year.

Yet Millwall fans selling programs to the sun don’t care about the monarch’s alleged connections to their club’s historic rivals.

“I’m devastated, everyone you talk to says it’s like a dream,” Smith says, adding that all the familiar faces she’s spoken to this week have wanted to talk about the big news.

“A lot of people can’t make it to the midweek games, so this is the first opportunity for them to pay their respects.”

Her sister says that as women in the male-dominated world of football, the Queen has been an inspiration to both of them as a powerful woman in the public eye.

“She sent it.”


Not everyone in the UK sits so well with the royal family. At Liverpool’s Champions League match earlier this week, the minute’s silence was broken by dissent from a small minority.

There was a tug-of-war between fans who broke the silence and others who also yelled at them at the Tottenham game, and similar incidents at other games.

But the greatest tensions are outside of England, in parts of the UK where the pomp and ceremony of Westminster are most controversial.

In Scotland, in an independence referendum in 2014, 45 per cent of voters expressed a desire to secede from the UK.

Rangers are known for their staunchly unionist, pro-UK fan base associated with Protestantism, while their fierce rivals Celtic are associated with Republicanism, linked to the Catholicism and Irish nationalism of their historic fan base. .

Celtic’s match at St. Mirren featured a minute’s silence instead of applause, but the visiting supporters still found a way to make their discontent with the public duel known.

UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic over a separate and profane anti-monarchy banner displayed at their Champions League match this week, but Rangers will face no action for ignoring official instructions and playing the UK national anthem.

On Saturday, Rangers played Dundee United, another club with Irish roots, and the silence was broken by dissent from away fans.

For the most part, however, the minutes of silence in the UK were respectfully observed and hymns sung aloud.

National flags are not an especially common sight in English football – the division of the UK into four separate local nations in the context of football complicates matters, as English football fans most easily identify with the red cross of St. Jorge.

But Union Jacks were seen everywhere in England over the weekend.

Newcastle United home games are usually put on by the Wor Flags collective, who put on elaborate displays to support their team.

This week they did not do it out of respect, but some red and white and blue flags waved outside the stadium.

Football will carry on after the funeral as the new era of the UK begins under King Charles III.

The president of the Football Association is Prince William, who is now the heir to the throne, so the monarchy is likely to loom even more over the domestic game.

But this weekend was all about remembering the Queen and with the final minute of silence past and the last barriers of The Queue swept away, no one in this country will forget where she was during this historic week.

It was a time when so many more felt the force of the collective human experience, a weekly event for football fans.

(Top photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

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