Goal Singapore Top 5 - Memorable fan protests

Inspired by the recent plane carrying the banner in protest of David Moyes’ stewardship under Manchester United, this week’s top 5 looks at other supporter outbursts
Under-fire Manchester United boss David Moyes faced a rather unique display of protest over the weekend as a plane flew over Old Trafford during the lunchtime clash with Aston Villa reading ‘Wrong One – Moyes Out’.  

The banner represented growing supporter unrest at Moyes with the Scot overseeing a tumultuous first season at the Premier League champions, having replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer.

United have already lost 10 league games this seasons and their recent home defeat to Manchester City, their third in a row at home, seemingly compounded the anger of a selection of fans, who made arrangements for Saturday's banner to take to the skies.

The protest is just one of the many acts that has been carried out by fans for one reason or another. Some protests are done with a sense of humour, others in bad taste, but either way, they are all memorable in their own way.

In this week’s top 5, Goal Singapore looks at other memorable fan protests over the years.

5. Blackburn Rovers’ chicken run
In May 2012, Blackburn Rovers witnessed perhaps one of the strangest fan protests, which came in the form of a, err, chicken.

During their must-win clash against Wigan, play was halted in the seventh minute after a chicken draped in club colours ventured onto the pitch. It needed the combined effort of Ali Al-Habsi and Yakubu Aiyegbeni to catch the innocent animal and put it away to safety.

It was thought that letting the chicken onto the pitch was a protest at Blackburn’s owners, chicken meat processors Venky’s, as well as then manager Steve Kean (who is, incidentally, the current coach of S.League outfit Brunei DPMM).

The man responsible for the chicken run was later revealed to be Anthony Taylor, who, like other Rovers faithful, had been calling for Venky's and Kean to depart from the club since the previous season.

Oh and the match? Antolin Alcaraz scored the only goal of the game as Wigan condemned Rovers to a defeat, which confirmed their relegation to the Championship.

4. Luis Figo and the flying pig's head
First it was a chicken; next up, coincidentally, is another animal - a pig’s head, to be more specific.
This time though, the protest was not really towards a club, but to a player. In 2000, Luis Figo made a shocking move from Barcelona to arch-rivals Real Madrid.

The move obviously didn’t go well with the Barcelona faithful, as they felt betrayed by his big-money move. Once a darling son of the Catalans, the Portugese became public enemy number one as he became part of the new breed of "Galacticos" for Madrid.

When he returned to Camp Nou three seasons later in a league match, he unsurprisingly got a tempestuous reaction from the crowd, which was epitomised by objects getting thrown at him as he went to take corners and throw-ins.

But the term "objects" took a whole new meaning when one fan threw a pig’s head at their former star, and till today, some say it was the defining image of the rivalry between Spain’s two most successful sides.

3. Protests in Brazil during 2013 Confederations Cup
In what was supposed to be a sneak preview of the World Cup happening in Brazil later this year, the Confederations Cup in 2013 received unwanted attention and trouble after locals used the tournament as an opportunity to protest against the government.

There were demonstrations that took place outside the stadium prior to the opening ceremony as locals fumed at the amount of money spent at hosting the World Cup. The protests, in truth, were part of a wider unrest and rioting, which was triggered by an increase in prices of public transport as the country faces an increasing inflation rate.

Police had to use tear gas and pepper spray to suppress the protests before it got out of hand. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was adamant that protestors shouldn’t use football to make their demands heard, but considering the biggest tournament in world football is only a few months away, one can bet that this will not be the last time we will be hearing of such protests in the country.

2. The battle between AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons
It might not be commonly known, but there are a few globally renowned football clubs today that were created out of fans, players or club shareholders protesting the way the original club was run.

Some of the big clubs include the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool.

In recent times though, the most notable protest club that has emerged is AFC Wimbledon, a club that was formed in 2002 by Wimbledon FC supporters. This was because the latter was moved to Milton Keyes, after it was given permission to do so by an independent commission.

Most of the supporters of the original club were against the move and decided to form their own club as a result of the change in location of the club’s home ground.

It wasn’t as smooth sailing though, as there was an argument between the two clubs on who would claim to the original club’s history. But after five years of debate, MK Dons were the ones who had to renounce any claim to a history before 2004. AFC Wimbledon, on the other hand managed to keep all trophy replicas and other historical records of the original Wimbledon FC, which dates back from as far back as 1889.

MK Dons completed a League Two and Football League Trophy double in 2008 as a mark of progress for the new club, while AFC Wimbledon have risen from the ninth tier of English football to League Two.

And in case you were wondering, both sides have faced each other in a football match. In the second round of FA Cup in the 2012/13 season, MK Dons won the match 2-1 thanks to an injury-time winner.

1. Liverpool’s boycott of The Sun newspaper

We’re all familiar with the tragic Hillsborough disaster that occurred in 1989 where 96 people died and 766 were injured.

While the Hillsborough Independent Panel has recently concluded that it was the police and not the Liverpool fans that were responsible for the tragedy that happened, it wasn’t as clear-cut on who should have been accountable for the incident during the days that followed the disaster.

While it took over 20 years to determine the cause of the tragedy, The Sun, the biggest tabloid newspaper in the UK, chose to jump the gun and published headline stories about how fans were abusing the police officers and the victims of the disasters, all of which were baseless.

The series of articles angered the public so much that most newsagents in Liverpool boycotted the newspaper. In fact, many readers cancelled their orders and chose not to buy it from newsstands.

The protest continued as the Hillsborough Justice Campaign tried to organise a national boycott of the newspaper, which affected its sales.

Till today, the majority of people living in Merseyside still shun The Sun and its articles are not published on Liverpool’s official website.