Air Raid Siren and Dambusters Suspended: Our View

I say ‘our view’, it’s my view. Our view just sounds better, but for clarity, I haven’t spoken to the other writers about it. They might disagree with me.

Anyway, thanks to this story hitting the main BBC News website, you’re aware that from now until the end of the season, there will be no March of the Dam Busters played at the ground, nor will the air raid siren be used. This is being done as a mark of respect for the ongoing war in Ukraine. If you have missed it, it forms part of Liam’s letter to fans which can be gound here, but I’ve also taken the key section out for you below.

“At the most recent Supporters Board meeting we discussed at length the merits of the air raid sirens we hear before corners at the LNER Stadium and the use of the Dam Busters March which we play in the build-up to games in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. As a club we are very aware of our heritage and wish to ensure we strike an appropriate balance between our long-standing synonymous gestures and actions, along with being socially aware and generally good citizens.

The Supporters Board and I discussed the topic at great length and we collectively concluded it would be appropriate to temporarily suspend the use of the sirens and for the club to stop playing the Dam Busters March for the rest of this season. I’m sure everyone has their own opinions on this matter and I fully accept our position is not flawless. While I understand this decision may polarise views, could I expressly comment that it is not our intention to divide. In the spirit that this decision was made, please could I ask for your support and backing with this conclusion, which was a very challenging matter to navigate. Can I be clear that there is a commitment to reviewing this decision in the close season and we will communicate further on this matter following our summer review.”

Of course, there’s been a mixed reaction, with Liam personally accused of being a snowflake etc. Now, to be clear, I don’t see the value in not playing the Dam Busters (the siren I can understand, if not entirely agree with). That’s my opinion, people will disagree, but I feel there’s always a war going on, and just because it’s happening on our continent rather than Africa, the Middle East or Palestine shouldn’t define how we react. I know my podcast co-host, Ben, disagrees with me, and it’s perhaps a good job it’s him and Jake this week! In my opinion, if you stand with Ukraine, why not Ethiopia or Yemen? Personally, I feel there is a certain degree of virtue signalling going on in our country, especially when I turn the TV on and see a concert being held for Ukraine. They’re being killed, and people singing songs and lighting candles ain’t going to help. People can express themselves how they like, I have no problem with that, but concerts and hand-wringing from celebrities help nobody except those in front of the camera. John from the pub, or Joan from work don’t have a platform, they’re changing their profile picture for a different motivation and that’s their choice, but (and I have been very reticent in expressing this in the past) for me, changing kits to yellow and blue in support of Ukraine is simply an act with no real impact. There’s a song by Beans On Toast called ‘Harry’s In a Helicopter‘, and it has the following lyrics: war is bad, and killing is wrong. Personally, if you need to make a show of declaring that then something is wrong with society. For me, standing with a country being bombarded and terrorised on a daily basis should be the default setting for any person.

Anyway, that’s my opinion BUT I understand 100% why the club have taken the choice they have. Not long after the awful war started, or rather, the unwarranted invasion started, I saw tweets at the club from people asking if they would retire the air raid siren in solidarity. These were blue tick Twitter types with an agenda to push, the sort who look for their own little fights about right and wrong all the time. There were fans who asked as well, their prerogative and I’m not having a pop entirely at them: in my eyes, the club has to act. They’re not like you and me: if I write something, or if I sing the Dam Busters in my bathroom every morning, nobody cares. There’s enough silly conflict on social media over whether it is right or wrong, right wing butting heads with left for no reason other than they’ve little better to do. However, a football club has an impact on thousands, and as such, they have to make decisions that reflect well on them. That’s not like Kerry Katona sending a message to Putin, it’s not done so the club ‘look good’, in this instance, it’s probably done so they don’t look bad as much as anything. That news piece, the one on the front page of the BBC News website right now, could just have easily have been ‘Football Club Refuse To Silence Air Raid Siren In Slur on Ukrainian Community’. Just think about that, please.

What really pains me is this; I have an opinion on silencing the siren and the Dam Buster which, privately, I discussed with a fan recently who raised it with me. However, people are dying every day in Ukraine, a country not all that far from here. Their lives are being ruined, their homes destroyed, their future is uncertain, and just a couple of days drive away, we have people in their comfortable homes arguing about a fucking song, about eroding history, about snowflakes, about being offended by a piece of music. That is what sickens me. That is what makes me angry. For every life ruined in the senseless and barbaric assault on Ukraine, there’s someone on the internet using it to further their own agenda, strengthen their own beliefs about society, and now even I have almost been forced into it because it’s news for our club. I don’t like it and until this article, I have refused to engage in it.

For that reason, I will not be responding to anything on social media around this post. I will not argue petty points about a war that is having a real impact on people, a war resulting in them being murdered in their homes by a despot hellbent on death and destruction. What I’d advise you to do, if you’ve read this and feel passionately one way or the other, is to not reply. Instead, channel your aggression into clicking this link, and giving as little as £1 to actually help people out there, right now. Your opinion (and indeed mine) helps nobody. Silencing the siren, wearing blue and yellow clothes, lighting up Downing Street; none of it helps those poor people. Money and aid do. So, if you truly wish to stand with the people of Ukraine, if you do want to help them, don’t tell others, just donate some money and get back to moaning about the pedestrianisation of Louth town centre, or whether you think Michael should be in charge next season.

As for the air raid siren and the Dam Busters, what does it really matter? There are three home games left and, as far as I’m aware, we didn’t play the Dam Busters song for years anyway. It’ll be reviewed at the end of the season, so are you really so petty that you’re going to get het up over a song most of you probably didn’t know we played, and an air raid siren that (given our average corner count) might have been sounded ten times between now and August? Are you really going to let that get you slathering at the mouth when right now innocent people are being bombed in modern-day Europe?

I’m not.