Standing united in the face of evil.
THE maxim in journalism has always been "bad news is good news and good news is no news!" Well, time to put the balance right with the way people in this country have responded to the horrendous terrorist attacks and subsequent tragic deaths in Paris. Sports fans have played their part, too, with wonderful respect displayed at Wembley and grounds around the UK by observing silent tributes and the singing of La Marseillaise.
What a contrast to a few years ago when our national game of football was blighted by hooliganism and lack of respect. Now spectators are much better and observe various minutes of silence or applause. Most people in this country are thoroughly decent and this is still a great place to live, despite various problems and the weather! I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and there is nowhere else I would choose to be.
Ian Wright, who seems to pop up everywhere on our screens at present, expressed a view that the England-France match should not have gone ahead within days of the attacks in Paris. He was wrong - we cannot give in to these criminal terrorists, whatever their cause.
I suppose that had, God forbid, bombs gone off inside the Stade de France during the France-Germany match there might have been a re-think but I was surprised that my old company, ITV, used Wright as an expert on the Wembley game as he was opposed to it taking place.
None of us will ever forget the atrocities of a week last Friday, just as I will never forget the events of September 5 and 6 1972 between the hours of 4.30am and just past midnight when 11 innocent members of the Israeli Olympic team were killed in Munich by the Black September Palestinian group.
It was the longest day of my life and I must admit it left me wondering at the time whether the Games should continue after the attack - but I soon realised it was the right decision.
The 5th was a rest day in the Games and I was planning to fly to West Berlin with a close colleague, Graham Thompson, to see the Berlin Wall.
We had been out on the beer the night before and I was living in student accommodation. I was woken at 5.30am by the ITN reporter and now best-selling novelist, Gerald Seymour. He ordered me out of bed and straight into the car for a briefing on a terrorist attack in the village.
I was 27 at the time, thinking only about sport and television, and getting engaged two weeks earlier to Katie, who is now my wife.
When we arrived at the village the camera crew, Gerald, myself and the World of Sport boss, Stuart McConachie, had to climb a wire fence and enter the compound and work our way to the Puerto Rican quarters opposite the Israeli house. Security was lax with the German government trying to discard the images of Hitler and the Second World War. This was the second week and it had been working up to then.
The terrorist with the white balaclava on the Israeli balcony (now a historic photograph) and his team were keeping the remaining Israelis hostage, demanding the release of 234 prisoners jailed in Israel and a safe passage out of Munich airport. In the end they got neither.
The death toll was 17 - six Israeli coaches, five athletes, five Black September terrorists and one West German police officer.
By the time the hostages and their captors left for the airport, around 11pm, I was cold and exhausted and sent to my room. I was told when I got there that the hostages had been rescued. When Gerald woke me the next day he broke the news that they had been killed strapped in helicopters. The terrorists had blown them up when the German police opened fire at the airport.
I felt sickened and just wanted to fly home to my fiancee but had second thoughts when I realised that the Games must continue and I, too, should carry on.
Since then, of course, we have had atrocities on a far bigger scale, such as the Twin Towers in New York and in Paris. Our Prime Minister continues to warn of possible dangers here, but sport can help with the message. A good example is how boxer Barry McGuigan brought Ireland together during the troubles with his World Championship fights.
One sad postscript is that I mentioned Graham Thompson, a video editor who helped me like a kindly father in my early days in TV. It's his funeral in Stratford-upon-Avon this week after he was tragically killed in a head-on car crash in Wales. He was 81.
The hooded face of nterrorism at Munich in 1972.
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|Publication:||Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)|
|Date:||Nov 24, 2015|
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