A decade ago I wrote my second of fifteen books. It was called the ‘Drums of Anfield’ and much to my surprise it wound up being discussed in the national press and I found myself in the Radio 5 Live studio in
Why? Was I famous? No. Did the book win a bunch awards? No. was it a multi
national best seller? Absolutely no. London
Basically the media got interested because it was a kids book that revolved around racism in football. And as we have all seen, there are few things to stir the media blood like racism in football.
Why did I write it? You probably see me as some sort of sandal wearing holier than thou type. Not really. My partner of 26 years is Black British and we have two mixed race boys, both of whom are
Liverpool to their toenails and have
been since the age of four. Had they chosen the dark side and followed the
Mancs, a call would have been made to the Social and they would have wound up
in the care system. So much for the sandals.
We had just moved to
was pretty clear that both Dyonne and Courtney would have a few years of always
being the only brown boy in the class: never an easy thing. They were bound to
get called names and the book was my idea of trying to make the point that
belting some clown who called them a nigger would land them in more bother than
the caveman they thumped. I may not be an open toed sandals man, but I do have
a poster of Martin Luther King on the wall. Scotland
At first I never had any thoughts of publishing the book – It was basically a bedtime story. Anyway, one thing led to another and after a few months I was chatting with about the book with Five Live’s Ian Payne and a few million lads in their vans – this was the pre TalkSport world.
The book took me to some pretty interesting times and places. A launch at Anfield was attended by Ian Callaghan who had always been my all time idol and meeting him made it worth while being a writer. Liverpool FC commissioned one of the
screenwriters to write a drama version of the story which was performed to 4000
school kids under the Centenary Stand at Anfield.
More unexpected was a call I received on day from an outfit in
called ‘Sense over Sectarianism. This was a real New Labour classic made up
Rangers FC, Celtic FC, The Catholic Church, The Church of Scotland and Glasgow
City Council. Could I rewrite the story for them? Set it in Glasgow and talk about sectarianism? They
wanted 10,000 copies to dish out to every high school pupil in Glasgow . There wasn’t any cash in it. There
never is. But there was a racing certainty of a ticket to an Old Firm game and
that was a thing I had always aspired to. Glasgow
So I did the research and wrote the book and duly attended a Celtic Rangers match at Ibrox. Never again! The levels of mouth frothing sectarianism were up there with anything the Bosnian Serbs could conjure up.
And all of a sudden I was to attend a launch event at
. And the media were
invited. And a room full of them turned out. Celtic fielded a player. Rangers
sent two. And the Lord Mayor turned up. There was just one hitch – none of them
were willing to talk about sectarianism. Which basically left a Koppite from Hampden
Park Lancashire to field a bunch of aggressive questions from
the Scottish redtops. Cheers for that.
The whole thing was box ticking. Are you doing anything to address sectarianism? Course we are! We commissioned a book for schools. We’re doing our bit. But they wouldn’t talk about it.
And so to Ibrox. When the teams walked onto the pitch they played Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the best’ at full volume. Nothing wrong in that, surely? Well maybe there was. 45,000 Rangers fans sang along with frantic gusto – ‘Fuck the Pope and the IRA!!!’ Maybe the good and the great failed to hear that bit? Or maybe they just liked the income from selling season tickets to head banging nutters from
The whole thing made me cynical about political correctness, lip service and the general bullshit of the football authorities.
That cynicism has hardly been eased by the events of the last few months. Maybe you can make some sense of these three incidents because I certainly can’t.
Louis Suarez and Patrice Evra have a spat and Suarez calls Evra ‘Black man’ in Spanish. Evra is livid and reports it. The press goes ballistic and the FA fine Suarez £40,000 and ban him for eight games. The
Liverpool fans get all
paranoid and seem convinced the world is against them and sadly King Kenny
agrees. Things are a bit heated and febrile at Anfield for a Friday night FA
Cup tie against Oldham. All of a sudden it is
clear that the Oldham left back – a young
black lad – is in tears as a result of something that has been said from the
Kop. Stevie Gerrard does his best to console him. I feel sick and ashamed and
gutted for the lad. His dream night has just been nightmared.
Over the next days the caveman is traced and duly arrested. He attends court and is charged with using racist language. He pleads not guilty. Your honour! I never called him a ‘Black Cunt’ – I called him a ‘Manc Cunt’. Witnesses were called and they back up the story. The caveman’s geography obviously draws on the fact that
is a part of Greater Manchester which is enough to warrant a scream of ‘Manc
Cunt’. Well the Magistrate is happy enough with this. ‘Black Cunt’ would have
been beyond the pale but ‘Manc Cunt’ is deemed to be fine and dandy and the
caveman walks free.
And then of course the TV cameras pick up
gallant leader John Terry calling Anton Ferdinand a ‘Fucking Black Cunt’. Now
Anton plays for QPR and QPR is a hell of a drive from Greater Manchester so
there seems little chance that Captain Fantastic can claim to have called his
fellow pro a ‘Funcking Manc Cunt’ even though his brother does indeed play for
the Mancs. Unlike the Suarez affair, this one becomes a police matter and the
FA back off. It can’t go to court because the England players are far too busy, unlike the
rest of the public who are threatened with charges of contempt if we miss a
court hearing and most of us tend to work ten hours a day rather than just a
morning’s training but what the hell – we’re not celebs so we don’t count. In
the end the old American adage of the justice system was proved correct –
‘Guilty until proven rich’. Terry’s Fancy Dan legal team concoct a tale that
big John has merely repeated words spoken to him by Anton even though Anton
denies it and nobody heard or lip read him. Never mind such detail. Somehow
Terry’s brief seems to have managed to hypnotise the magistrate. Chelsea
It’s good that things are now all cleared up and we know how to behave properly.
”Daddy, is it OK to call that black man ‘A Manc Cunt’?”
“Of course son. On you go.”
“Daddy. Is it OK to call that black man a ‘Fucking Black Cunt’?”
“Of course son. On you go.”
“Daddy. Is it OK to call that black man a ‘Black Man’?”
“Good God son! Where are you getting that kind of filth from! Your grounded for ever and ever and you’re eating broccoli for tea for the next three years you filthy little racist pig!”
Which actually makes the whole thing a tad uncomfortable. Let’s just assume for a moment that the much maligned Senor Suarez was actually telling the truth. You see, up here in Bonnie Scotland, if you are tall someone will often as not greet you with the words “Y’alright there big man”. If you’re small, they may well say “Y’alright there wee man.” Neither of these things are a problem. Why would they be? After all, there is nothing wrong with being either tall or short. It would be a different story if someone said “Y’alright Fat Man.” Or ‘bald’ man. Or ‘spotty face’ man. Or ‘Unsightly birthmark on your face’ man. All of these are a problem because they highlight something the person isn’t happy about. So have the good folk of
got it so very wrong when they say ‘Y’alright Black man”? The whole point of
not being racist is being 100% certain that there is nothing wrong with being
black. And if there is indeed nothing wrong with being black, then it stands to
reason that there is little wrong with calling a black man and ‘black
How very lucky we are to have wise old Magistrates to unravel these tricky issues for us and make everything clear.
you’re bang right mate. We’re all getting our knickers in a twist.