Many West Ham United fans were left disappointed by their Liverpool counterparts on Monday night.
All eyes were on Liverpool’s famous Kop during West Ham’s trip to Merseyside as the East London club’s protest against their owners threatened to reach unprecedented levels.
In the build-up to the game, it was claimed that Liverpool fans had agreed to fly a West Ham United protest flag in the Kop.
With the game being beamed to millions around the world, it was the perfect scenario for disaffected Hammers supporters protesting against David Sullivan, David Gold and their vice-chairman Karren Brady.
West Ham fans left disappointed by Liverpool supporters
Many fans are deeply unhappy with the way the board have run the club over the last decade.
They have been making their feelings clear in protests before the Everton game, during the Liverpool match and will again before Saturday’s crucial home clash against Southampton.
Supporters have not been able to take the flags into home games and a fan who wore a GSB OUT t-shirt while he was flag-bearing at the London Stadium was banned for the season – later overturned to a two-game ban (Claret & Hugh).
So having Liverpool fly the protest flag would have sent out a huge message and show of fan solidarity.
When the game came around, though, the flag was nowhere to be seen.
West Ham fans were left disappointed flooding social media and fans forums like WestHamOnline.net with ‘I told you they wouldn’ts’.
In the end, though, it mattered little as West Ham fans got their message across loud and clear.
Protesting Hammers still get their message across
Sky Sports were effectively forced to broadcast footage of the black balloon protests, discussing the sentiment behind it. Dozens of protest flags were aired live to the nation.
That in itself was an achievement as many fans had feared Sky might shy away from the issue given the recent threat of legal action aimed at them by Sullivan and Gold over comments made about their tenure on the Sunday Supplement show (Daily Mail).
West Ham fans – who have sold out every away allocation this season – took just 1,800 fans to Anfield instead of the usual 3,000.
Why? As claimed by The Daily Mail West Ham did not take up the full 3,000 allocation for Anfield to spite the protests.
Commentator Martin Tyler tried his best to spoil it. He rather lazily insinuated the fans need to get behind the team and that the protests were not helping.
But BBC Sport journalist Phil McNulty reported the protests in detail, praising West Ham fans for combining their anti-board message with full blooded support for their team.
West Ham fans made their displeasure with ownership clear at Anfield last night but never once turned it on their team. Great support for a good performance – along with some very good gallows humour.
— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) February 25, 2020
It was certainly a victory for the protestors on the night.
A victory for unhappy Hammers
Not only did they get their message across. They did so without disrupting the team. That cannot be disputed given David Moyes’s side put in their best performance since his first game in charge.
Yes the West Ham protest flag flying in the Kop would have sent a powerful message.
But the truth is it wasn’t needed to achieve the objective of West Ham’s long-suffering fans.
And who knows, perhaps the Kop faithful did intend to fly the flag. Perhaps they were unable to pull it off for some reason? Their intentions seemed genuine enough to convince supporter group Hammers United prior to the game.
All that really matters is that West Ham stay up this season. With that achieved, nobody will be left in any doubt that the club needs to change hands to progress.
West Ham have gone backwards since leaving Upton Park and no longer own their own home.
That threatens to be Sullivan and Gold’s true legacy.