Two years ago today three Muslim terrorists murdered eight and injured a further 48 in attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market. During the fortnight inquiry into the attack there has been one name that has been glossed over, a man whose actions have been routinely erased by the powers that be. He was pointedly not invited to the anniversary of the attack, his name not mentioned, and was knowingly left off the honour call, whilst the deputy commissioner, Sir Craig Mackey, was polishing his boots to collect a gallantry medal for locking his car doors and radioing for help during the Westminster Bridge attack, Roy Larner was busily being forgotten. For the powers that be he is just the wrong sort of hero.
Four or five beers down drinking with a mate in the Black and Blue in Borough Market, Roy Larner was enjoying an evening pint unaware that a path of destruction was headed straight to his table. Having already murdered eight people, the three attackers burst into the bar and set about the patrons, one of them headed straight for Roy Larner. With ceramic knives strapped to his hands he screamed “This is for Allah”. “Fuck you, I’m Millwall” Roy replied and a hero of the people was born. Stabbed twice in the stomach in quick succession Mr Larner fought on and remained boxing, offering enough resistance that one of the attackers came back to assist his fellow jihadi who was grappling with Roy. The attackers concentrated on him and another drinker, disrupting the planned path to the contained diners in the restaurant and the other drinkers. The terrorists left the Black and Blue and were then shot dead. Having been stabbed and slashed nine times Roy Larner was rushed to hospital.
Over the next couple of days the media championed Roy’s courage and immense bravery. After being discharged from hospital he appeared on Good Morning Britain and Fox News modestly retelling the events of that fateful evening. Then the unthinkable happened, the logic of which is so impossible to follow that it is difficult to comprehend. Aspects of the media went looking for dirt on him. The Independent and the Socialist Worker ran stories about run ins he had with people, an altercation he had had with a member of the public. The morality of the press has always been absent but to look for dirt and try and disparage the actions of a citizen who stopped three murderers slaughtering restaurant goers is one of the most revolting things I have ever heard. We used to put up statues and write songs about brave men who carried out brave actions, now we ruin them.
You wouldn’t have to dig very far to find dirt on anyone. Why does a man who just wanted to have a beer have to be subjected to a character check?
Does a hero have to be a saint? Does a civilian having a quiet drink who’s unfortunate enough to find himself within a terrorist atrocity have to be an unblemished character? If you fell on a train track would you want the man who rescued you to have a completely uncheckered past? Why do we let editors who knowingly print fake photos of abuse putting innocent soldiers lives at risk decide on what is right and what is wrong? Why do we let industries who hack phones of murdered teenagers become the moral gatekeepers?
During the World Cup after the England Panama game Nice Threads, Mate ran into Roy Larner at Elephant. We stood and chatted for about half an hour, a nice down to earth Londoner. Hearing how badly he has been let down made me think of soldiery, how you can be used and dumped. How you can be used for your assets but your lot won’t change, you can play their game but you will suffer, you will give your all when it is required and the same obstacles will be put in your way. Roy Larner was a hero who never asked to be put in the situation he was put in, they used him for his aggression and force when they wanted it, they used his actions to sell papers, they used his story to sell advertising revenue, they used his “fuck you, I’m Millwall” to sell merchandise and they used one moment of his past to destroy him. To all those people who built him up and tore him down to make a few quid, realise this a man’s life you are dealing with. Used and dumped seems to be the history of men like Mr Larner for hundreds of years in this country. He would be the first to say he is not perfect but they didn’t care about perfection when he was the obstacle that stopped terrorists slaying punters in the Black and Blue. “For once in my life I did the right thing” Roy said to me “and look how you got treated” I replied. Seeing his scars is a very sobering experience and those who have attempted to break him should be made to see them.
So here you are Roy, here is the George Cross they refuse to give you. Good luck mate, you’re a hero to the people. Some are honoured by elites and others are honoured by the people, those who gave knighthoods to Jimmy Saville and Cyril Smith think you’re not their type of hero… Roy Larner GC, the Lion of London Bridge, fear no foe.