If prostitution is the oldest profession then surely racism is the oldest hatred. Race hate has cast a filthy shadow for as far back as we go. ‘Kick it out’ has been a clarion call down the centuries. Jesus’s tale of the good Samaritan overcoming his racial prejudice to give a guy a helping hand would have sat comfortably in any ‘Kick it Out’ press release. Trying to get human beings to treat each other as equals and not hate each others’ guts is a thread that runs through William Wilberforce to Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela.
Has any of it worked? Are we cured?
Watching the miserable spectacle of a bunch of cave dwelling Ultras doing chimpanzee imitations in honour of the fact that Mario Ballotelli and Kevin Price Boateng were playing a game of football in Milan was evidence that a cure is still some way off.
For a few decades football has become the lens through which we tend to measure racism. Lord alone knows why. I suppose football grounds tend to give large numbers of young males an anonymous platform to vent their spleen about the world and life in general. Sometimes this can be a pretty good thing. Attending Dynamo Kiev games gave thousands of Ukranians a chance to feel less like cattle in a Nazi pen. Steve Biko once upon a time used the cover of football matches to grab a microphone and feed the fire that in the end burned down the Apartheid pigsty.
But other times the anonymity of a packed terrace provides a fertile seedbed for the darker side of our nature. Once upon a time over 100,000 Romans got their rocks off at the sight of the mass murder of Christians. All over the world there are few spectacles more certain to get bums on seats than a public execution. Would someone want to watch a fellow human being getting hung from the neck on their own? Doubtful. But among the safety of a crowd of hundreds of others, we cheer ourselves hoarse.
Would any of the idiots in the San Siro stadium have done a chimpanzee imitation on the bus if a black guy had got on board? Not a chance. But once in a crowd, they were all of a sudden very brave indeed.
Of course it is no accident that we are seeing an upsurge in morons from all over
Europe being consumed
with the desire to do monkey imitations on football terraces at this particular
moment in history. Hard times and rampant racism have always made happy
6 million on the dole in
. Lots of angry pissed off
people desperate to blame someone for life being so crap. A few years later 6
million dead Jews had paid the price. Germany
providing a sumptuously equipped maternity wing for the rebirth of Racist
Europe. The worse the financial shite, the worse the racist shite. tops the
league for both and Golden Dawn are the nearest thing we have seen to a full
blown Nazi party for a while. Thankfully we have a way to go yet until we are
as far up our necks in it as the countries in the south of Greece Europe.
Right now we have UKIP and every politician competing to be the toughest on
immigration. Funny when you think about it. I never realised that Fred Goodwin
was an illegal immigrant. Just goes to show.
For once, the recent racism in football stories have been on the pitch rather than the terraces with John Terry and Luis Suarez playing the pantomime villains. The fact that British crowds have grown out of throwing bananas at black players and indulging in mass monkey imitations is rightly celebrated as progress. It would be easier to have more faith in this progress were we to see more black managers and coaches, but apparently
wasn’t built in a day. We did have one
charming fan arrested at Anfield last year in the wake of the Suarez/Evra
incident. A nineteen year old black left back from Rome Oldham
was reduced to tears by the abuse the fan in question screamed at him from the
The supporter was duly arrested and charged with racist behaviour only to be found not guilty and told he was free to leave court without a blemish to his character. It was all down to a misunderstanding. Everyone thought he had screamed ‘Black cunt’ to the young defender, which would have been wicked and evil and seen him sent straight off to HMP Walton. However, the court discovered that this was far from the truth. The truth was that he had merely labelled the left back as being a ‘Manc cunt’ and this was of course deemed to be absolutely fine.
What a load of tosh.
A few years ago I spent some time in the midst of the whole ‘Kick Racism out of Football’ thing. For whatever reason, racism has always been a thing that has disgusted me. I had my Free Mandela T shirts back in the day and felt physically sick at the sight of Everton fans throwing bananas at Johnny Barnes. Then I met my partner who is black and we now have two lads who are both brown. Which of course brings the whole thing very close to home.
It is no easy thing explaining to a young child why certain people feel the need to get in their faces and call them every name under the sun simply because of the colour of their skin. Both my lads have never had any choice whatsoever than to be Liverpool daft, and so it was that in 2001 I decided to write a football story for them to help to get their heads around the whole being the only black lad in the class thing. To start with, that was all it was going to be: an extended bedtime story written in instalments. A story of two black players dealing with racist abuse whilst wearing the red shirt of
When it was done, I gave copies to a few other people to read and everyone
seemed to like it. So I decided to publish it and soon to my great surprise it
was getting lots of media attention.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been all that taken aback. Racism in football always fills column inches. It seemed odd to be sitting in the Radio 5 studio in
being interviewed about football and racism. London
Then, to my complete delight, the club got on board with the whole thing and commissioned one of the
screenwriters to convert my story into a play which was eventually performed at
Anfield to an audience of 4000 school kids. On the back of this, lots of schools
across Merseyside took class sets of the book. This of course is the kind of
thing that makes writing books worthwhile. Well there has to be something!
There certainly is no money in it. I had a highly amusing exchange of views in
my blog’s comments section with a furious Liverpool
fan called Arthur who was incandescent with rage at my tribute to Sir Alex. He
was convinced that the real reason for me being such a foul traitor was a
desperate attempt to hawk my E books in the Kindle Store. If only! To date my
tribute to Sir Alex has been read 25,000 times and this has generated sales of
eight books. Wow. The big time. John Grisham must be quaking in his boots.
25,000 blog hits has seen my net worth rise by a mighty £10 over the last few
days. I passed this news on to Angry Arthur, but it didn’t seem to calm him
No doubt Arthur will be similarly angry at me for penning this blog and making ‘The Drums of Anfield’ available to one and all as a free download. Well, if I have got your blood pressure up again Arthur, than I apologise. There really isn’t any kind of secret agenda here.
I have always tried to take on board the message of Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King. When the racist poison starts to seep up out of the gutters and onto the pavement, it is the job of any civilised human being to shine a torch on it before it gets out of hand.
Before we wake up on morning and find that we are up to our necks in it.
This is a promise I have made to myself many times over the years. A few years ago we drove a hire car through the night across a snowy
Europe to the worst place there has ever been.
No sane person could visit those tortured acres of
Upper Silesia and not make a solemn vow to do anything in
their power to make sure such a living, breathing hell will never again visit
We can only do what we can do. My thing is writing and ‘The Drums of Anfield’ is my contribution. Has played a part? Left a legacy? Made a contribution? I cannot say. Instead all I can do is to be hopeful. Hopeful that the kids who read the story will now think twice should they ever get the chance to join in with a bunch of idiots making like chimps because the other team has a black player.
Have we kicked racism out of football? No. Not completely. We never will. But it is a whole hell of a lot better than it was.
Have we kicked racism out of life? Not even close. The racial bloodbath in Rwanda came less than fifty years after the tanks of the Red Army rolled up to the gates of Auschwitz Birkenau.
Christ, this is a dark sort of a blog! Before hitting the publish button, I really should point out that ‘The Drums of Anfield’ is anything but a dark story. Most people read the thing in a few hours. Obviously it would be bad form to give away any of the plot, but it is fair to say that Liverpool fans like the way things turn out whilst United fans don’t.
Lots of Mancs have had lots of nice things to say about me after my Sir Alex tribute. They will probably be rather less complimentary if they download a copy of ‘The Drums of Anfield’ and have a read.
Let normal service resume.
To download a free copy of ‘The Drums of Anfield’ follow the link below.