A Sterling Lesson

Growing up in Kilwinning in the sixties wasn’t quite the same as growing up in Swinging London. It was a typical small working-class town. And it was white. Exclusively so,as far as I recall. 

So too was Scottish football. Sure,there were a sprinkling of Scandinavians and Icelanders playing in exotic places like Dundee and,erm,Greenock,and Rangers even had a German goalie for a while. Called Gerry,believe it or not(!) But every bit as white as the rest of us. 

Same thing in England. While the comedy shows of the time were full of caricatures about ethnic minorities,they knew their place. And it wasn’t on the football field. Nope,you’re not welcome,either as a player or a fan. 

That all changed with the emergence of West Bromwich Albion and the introduction by Ron Atkinson of Brendan Batson,Cyrille Regis and Laurie Cunningham. Brian Clough had Viv Anderson,and Terry Venables had a few in his Crystal Palace ‘Team of the Eighties’. All of a sudden,black players had their role models,and a bit of self-belief. They could do it,you know,and managers weren’t scared to give them the chance to prove it. 

Now,forty years later,no-one really gives a damn about someone’s ethnicity or colour in football. Not in the boardroom,the dug-out or the dressing room. Not even on the terraces,as we all have seen our sides improved by this or that black player. 

Except…

When he plays for the other team. Then he’s fair game. As are they all,of course,we’ve paid our money so we are entitled to abuse anyone in any way we see fit. Well,try sitting on a bus and calling your driver what Raheem Sterling was called on Saturday when he was just doing his job. I can guarantee your ticket is a one-way journey to jail. Why do grown men,many with respectable and responsible roles in life-a Chelsea season ticket don’t come cheap-feel that it is acceptable to hurl vile racist abuse at a young player simply for wearing the wrong colour of jersey? Or the wrong colour of skin?

Of course,Chelsea fans famously abused Paul Cannoville as he warmed up prior to appearing as a substitute-and he was playing for Chelsea! Not the best start to a career for a 20yo kid. I think it was his debut,and it continued for the four years he played there. 

Here’s what Vince Hillaire,a leading light in the aforementioned Palace,said about a visit to Port Vale.

“After about 20 minutes, the manager, then Terry Venables, told me to go and have a warm-up. I came out of the dug-out, and I started jogging around the touchline. I couldn’t believe the abuse that was coming at me… animal noises and all the names you think of calling a black person. Any name under the sun. And it frightened me a bit, so I couldn’t wait to get back in the dug-out. And I thought, ‘Well, if this is the sort of reception I’m going to get, then I don’t really want to know”

Shocking? Of course it is. But I hear stuff like that on a regular basis in Swindon,and this from people I have a lot of time for otherwise. Of course,I point out the error of their ways,but they seem to think that they simply shouldn’t have said it to me,rather than that they shouldn’t have said it at all. Canny educate pork.

Racism is still prevalent across society,whether we like it or not. Less than 25 years ago,the local Tory party in Cheltenham refused to accept a candidate for the ultra safe seat in Cheltenham. A successful barrister,family man,well-spoken,ticked all the boxes. Except that he was black. Two years ago,52% of the electorate voted to commit economic and diplomatic suicide largely because of immigration fears. 

Scott Sinclair is abused on and off the pitch because he has the misfortune to be mixed-race AND a Celtic player. Even had the misfortune to suffer racial abuse in the first class lounge at Glasgow Airport. He was fortunate on that occasion that the suite was packed with CCTV cameras and the culprits were swiftly brought to justice,and of course other passengers weighed in on his behalf. 

Except that none of that last sentence is true. Shamefully,he discovered that he was on his own,neither fellow passengers nor the authorities took any action. As is the case when he is loudly and clearly abused while on the pitch. 

Now,the question is,is the Sterling incident a final crossing of the Rubicon for English football,the moment when the game,the police,society,finally sees that the line in the sand has been ignored for years? Well,time will tell. But I’d say from past experience that racism is too deeply entrenched in the mindset and behaviour of too many people who attend football matches for it to make that overnight transition. That,believe it or not,means that too many people view this as acceptable behaviour,and they know fine well that they’re nailed on to get away with it. 

Well,I can think of one particular Chelsea fan who probably won’t get away with it. In fact,the fall-out from any accompanying court case could be disproportionate,as he will likely be ostracised by any polite society he mixes in,as well as losing his job. 

In Vino Veritas. Is it worth letting the world view you as the person you really are,just because you had a few with your mates and were having a good time? Is it worth a lifetime ban from your club? 

In this case,I’m going to say “Yes,it was worth it.”

Because at last,British football might be having a grown up discussion about an endemic problem. We can only hope that society in general follows up. 

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saltires en sevilla
December 11, 2018 5:16 am

Majoc.

Well done.

Rock against Racism!

Saltires en Sevilla
December 11, 2018 5:48 am

Mahe/majoc

Both have email

,big packy
December 11, 2018 8:22 am

hi majoc, as you know I left Scotland in 73, but going to watch celtic home and away from 66 to 73, I can never remember black players being harassed, but then was there any in Scotland, honestly cant remember.hh

Awe Naw
Reply to  ,big packy
December 11, 2018 8:26 am

Packy,

Can you not remember I´d rather be a p**i than a hun chant during the Paul Wilson era ?

m6bhoy
December 11, 2018 8:32 am

Off on a tangent here but not everyone who voted to leave the European Union did so because of immigration, largely or otherwise. To me the EU (or Common Market) was set up primarily to serve the needs of big business and still is with workers rights, etc. coming a very distant second. In addition the EU is run by a self-serving elite of over-paid bureaucrats whose main job was to extend the free market across the European Union and compel members states to privatise their public sector to join the club or get help after the 2008 crash. To me the EU was (and still is) irredeemable and we would better out of it. This is consistent with my views on Scottish independence which I believe in because the UK is also a basket case institution. Other than that the rest of the article is excellent.

m6bhoy
Reply to  Awe Naw
December 11, 2018 8:51 am

I not only remember that chant, there was “I’d rather wear a turban than a sash”. Not forgetting also, Paul Wilson was also referred to as Tumai after the TV series Elephant Boy which was on the telly at the time. At the time, the huns were chanting “Wilson’s a darkie”. Paul always seemed to reserve some of his best performances when he played “them”.

The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 9:05 am

Great post M
You are wrong with black people being accepted in the boardrooms of clubs, very, very few black players ever make it into the dug out, only last week Paul Ince was bemoaning the fact that Sol Campbell had to start in the lower leagues and Gerrard got the hun job., chairman and owners are happy to have black players doing the biz on the park for them but few take the plunge and have them as the figurehead of the club.

majoc
Reply to  m6bhoy
December 11, 2018 9:09 am

M6BHOY

Of course not,but virtually every study done on the reasons puts that in first place. For instance,

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-latest-news-leave-eu-immigration-main-reason-european-union-survey-a7811651.html

I’ll be honest and say that I can understand their concerns even if I don’t agree with them. Freedom of movement has worked against the interests of the poorer in society as they have seen a decline in wages and job opportunities. Infrastructure such as schools and hospitals hasn’t been improved in line with population growth. But IMO,voting to leave will worsen all of that.

And voting as suggested by Gove,Johnson,Rees-Mogg et al should have been the first sign that they needed to look a little deeper into the issue.

majoc
Reply to  Awe Naw
December 11, 2018 9:12 am

AWENAW

Paul Wilson endured shocking abuse in the 70s. It took a strong character to stand up to that and still be successful. Worth remembering that he was capped by Scotland three years before Viv Anderson was capped by England.

I think he was only 29 when he retired,and 27 when he left us. Far too early on both counts for such a talented player,and far too early when he died last year too.

R I P

majoc
Reply to  m6bhoy
December 11, 2018 9:14 am

M6BHOY

Pretty sure they did the full soundtrack to the Jungle Fresh adverts too. Jee-zoh,what a name for a product.

majoc
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 9:22 am

THEEXILEDTIM

I entirely agree,K. Sol Campbell’s appointment-to the worst team in the leagues-was long overdue. There are now EIGHT managers in the top tiers,around 9%.

Now that’s not far off the demographic nationally,so it looks better than it is. But it is far below the representation at playing level. Are black,or BAME,if you prefer,players unsuited for some reason to management? I doubt it. They’ve got their badges,many have greater experience in the game than the successful candidates.

Sol Campbell only made fifteen applications in seven years,and that is used against him. I think it’s more likely that he sent out feelers for other jobs and was told not to bother. If he can save Macclesfield then he can have the freedom of the city,I suspect. And I think he might be the only employee who can afford to buy a decent property locally too!

majoc
Reply to  ,big packy
December 11, 2018 9:24 am

BIG PACKY

66-73? Bloody hell,talk about cherrypicking?!!!

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  majoc
December 11, 2018 11:24 am

It’s a sad state of affairs right enough, week in, week out there is anti Irish racism displayed at scottish grounds and not a peep, show racism the red card are a joke, set up by huns, run by huns so not unexpected.
As for skin colour, I read a few years back that for whatever reason black players don’t make as good coaches as white ones, this was in an African news article, they weren’t slating them cos of their skin colour, but the fact they don’t have the experience, so white coaches are better, they did reiterate that without getting jobs etc.

The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 11:29 am

If the likes of Duncan-Smith,Gove,Johnson,Rees-Mogg and their right wing cronies are in favour of something, you can be rest assured that the working man will NOT be the beneficiary of whatever it is they are in favour of.

Sol Kitts
Reply to  majoc
December 11, 2018 12:20 pm

How many undecided people decided to vote for Leave when Tony Blair appeared on TV for Remain? So full of his own importance and displayed a complete lack of away of what people think of him, he probably moved enough votes away to tip the outcome in Leave’s favour.

Sol Kitts
Reply to  Sol Kitts
December 11, 2018 12:21 pm

Bloody predictive text **awareness**, not away.

majoc
Reply to  Sol Kitts
December 11, 2018 12:25 pm

SOL KITTS

I doubt very much that he helped the cause,he was the most loathed politician in the country at the time. And deservedly so.

He must be as happy as a pig in the proverbial as he now has so many contenders for the title.

majoc
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 12:26 pm

Better believe it,old bean.

The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 12:26 pm

If anyone wants to take a ticket for the bigot dome, it’s their choice.

I must admit that I would have thought that the club would have been a tad more vocal on the subject, it’s a perfect opportunity to show they are a stand alone club and not Old Firm, they could tell us for sure if glibby was indeed right when he said that the reason they got their safety cert was on the condition that we got the whole of the Broomloan stand, if he was and we don’t take tickets we are bailing them out, not what a stand alone club would do is it.

majoc
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 12:32 pm

If I understand your point correctly,if we accept the tickets we play into his hands,and if we don’t,we play into his hands?

I get what you are saying,I think-that we should point out most forcefully that their safety certificate is dependent on us having the Broamloan Stand. Anything short of that puts our fans at risk.

I always loved going to Ibrox,great times there back in the day. Even sat in their end,as SOL KITTS related the other night. Of course,it helped that we usually won.

Not been there in over two decades. If I was offered a ticket for 29 Dec,I would politely decline.

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  majoc
December 11, 2018 12:54 pm

Yes, we are in a lose, lose situ.
Someone somewhere need to verify if what he said about the safety cert was true or another lie.
Establish this and everyone knows where things stand, if it is true and we don’t take them that for sure is bailing them out.

Rolling Stone
Reply to  m6bhoy
December 11, 2018 1:07 pm

@ m6bhoy

How do you square the circle of Scottish independence and the Scottish government’s desire to be a member of the EU (and part of the common currency union as well)?

Given the choice of an independent Scotland in the EU or the United Kingdom in its current formulation outside the EU (with neither a palatable option for me), I’d choose the latter.

EU bureaucrats are one thing; institutional bigotry within Scotland is quite another.

Rebus67
December 11, 2018 3:34 pm

In 1968 I left Glasgow for London in an attempt to catch the last of the swinging sixties. When I think of what I did I curl up with embarassment. Leaving on a saturday with two suitcases to start a job on the monday and nowhere to stay, I’d kill any of my sons who would be so stupid. Anyway, it worked out fine but that is a whole different story. When settled in the big smoke my ambition was to visit the ground of every London football club…….I achieved that bar one, Charlton.

When I visited West Ham’s ground, I saw my first black professional football player. He was with the home team. John Charles was his name and he was not a patch on the Welsh Charles. As the teams were announced over the tannoy, there was a low murmour from the crowd when Charles’ name was announced. I asked the guy next to me why the reaction from the crowd. He said wait and see. To this day, I am not sure if the reaction was due to colour or to the fact that Charles was not a regular in the side. In that game he was a very average player and was booed and applauded on the basis of what he did on the park……..nothing else.

On that day, the crowd were more exercised about the number of “bloody” Scots in the Arsenal team than they were by the real pioneer on the park. Arsenal had Ian Ure, Frank MCLintock and George Graham amongst others in their lineup, together with the adopted Scot, Bob Wilson.

When you think about it, it was inevitable that many black players would succeed in the game. It was a poor persons sport and many from immigrant families fell into that category. Just as earlier players like. Matt Busby and Bill Shankly would see the game as a route out of the pits and poverty, so too would the sons of immigrant families. The game and society is all the better for it.

Incidently, later I realised that John Charles developed an alcohol problem because of the drinking culture that was present in the game. I encountered the same culture in my own brief encounter with the game. Without going into details, the coach’s philosophy was the team that drinks together, plays together. I was not able to do either.

Rebus

Por Cierto
Reply to  Rebus67
December 11, 2018 5:05 pm

There’s no doubt in my mind that Brexit, the debate and the result, made some people think that it was now okay to racially abuse at will. It seems to me that it has become much more prevalent since then por cierto.

Por Cierto
Reply to  Por Cierto
December 11, 2018 5:21 pm
The Exiled Tim
Reply to  Por Cierto
December 11, 2018 5:40 pm

PC
I am obviously totally wrong here, but I thot I read somewhere that the huns had paid off the Close Brs loan.

The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 5:56 pm

Por Cierto
In the village I live very close to, the brits in general are racist scum, there are a few exceptions, it ranges from ffs, they can’t even speak english, to, well they are nearly in Africa so what do you expect.
The Mrs is on Facebook and she often tells me what they are getting up to, anyways, in the village there is a brit and he is married to a Sri Lankan lass, very nice couple, they don’t use FB, another cpl from the village take advantage of them I have been told and if you were to read their FB pages, or so the Mrs tells me, the racism is astounding, but they don’t see themselvs as racist, cos those who they hate are proper N****rs or muslims, he is white and she is neither a n****r or a muslim, the mind boggles so it does, I thank the lord I hardly ever go out these days, a game of footy now and again, and the market is my lot.
Can’t be doing with them, they assume cos you are in foreign and speak the same lingo you should be mates, I wouldn’t piss on them back in the homelands so why would I here, they just can’t seem to fathom this, as thick as.

Rebus67
Reply to  Por Cierto
December 11, 2018 7:11 pm

PC,

I fear it is not just a Brit phenom. I see the Brexit referendum as a protest vote against a failed political/economic system, not anti European. We see similar things happening in the US, France, Brazil and other counties. Voters feel let down by conventional parties and seek radical change. It is a very dangerous time. Leaders like Franco, Hitler and Mussolini seized power in these kinds of conditions. At the same time, there is an opportunity for a real leader to emerge…one that addresses the concerns of ordinary folk. I do not see any at present, sadly.

Some amongst populist supporters latch onto the simplicity of blame the foreigners…..taking our jobs, getting overpaid on benefits, crowding up the medical system etc. How is it easy to identify a foreigner? By their skin colour, of course.

Simple solutions to complex problems usually come from simple minds.

Rebus

The Gombeen Man
December 11, 2018 7:50 pm

A really good and thought-provoking article majoc.

For me, racism is simply a manifestation of Fear.

It’s similar to other prejudices like homophobia, sexism and sectarianism. Unfortunately, this emotion is cynically manipulated to divide people and exploit them. It’s conditioned and developed by society and is a symptom of a society or an individual who is asleep and lacks awareness.

The late Anthony de Mello always taught that spirituality is awareness. A lack of awareness keeps us stuck in pointless but dangerous dualistic thinking such as labelling or judging. All these things are driven by fear primarily but are often disguised as pride, defiance or entitlement.

These fears are crippling and prevent any individual from connecting with the fullness of life and often make a life a living hell.

The ‘Sevco-Project’ is the epitome of fear-based sectarian thinking. The followers of Sevco keep paying up in the misguided belief that their fears are really an expression of the superiority of their rather confused and now questionable history.

The sectarian songbook – ‘Up to our knees’ and ‘No-one likes us’ etc are simply an expression of fear. The fear is thinly disguised as being ‘Ready’ or anger. The reality is of course that both clubs who have played out of Ibrox have been dominated by people who can only maintain the illusion of superiority by the systematic use of cheating and criminality.

Evidence of the climate of fear-based thinking of Ibrox is easy to find. The pictures of soldiers in uniform parading round the ground waving Sevco scarves while chanting sectarian songs is really an attempt to assuage the deeply entrenched fears of the support (and get a few bob into Club 1872).

Of course, political institutions in London and elsewhere are in no hurry to enlighten the public at large. Conditioned dualistic thinking suits their agenda very well. It used to be called ‘Divide and Conquer.’ That’s why an institution like ‘Rangers’ is too big to fail. That’s also why the institutions of the establishment like the police and the media consistently compromise their integrity to support the Ibrox myth.

Conditioned fear-based thinking exists in our support too. Labelling and judging doesn’t only exist at Ibrox and only a sleepwalker would attempt to argue otherwise.

The Old Firm isn’t only about football, it is a means by which the population is distracted. In blogging parlance, the OF is a squirrel. The ultimate squirrel and whether we pay or not, time spent discussing or arguing about the OF is really music to the ears of those who happily peddle stories about immigrants, foreigners and any other minority group you might care to choose.

That’s why investors are confident in the monetising of the diaspora.

The good old bigot (fear) based pound keeps rolling in.

HH

Fairhill Bhoy
Reply to  m6bhoy
December 11, 2018 8:07 pm

I can remember singing that in 87/88 seasons,shameful

,big packy
Reply to  Awe Naw
December 11, 2018 8:15 pm

awe naw, apologies have just came on the blog from this morning. remember paul wison but would I have gone down to englandshire when he was an established first team player,,hh buddy hope you are well.

,big packy
Reply to  The Gombeen Man
December 11, 2018 8:23 pm

THE GOMBEEN MAN, remember the sixties, no irish no blacks no dogs has anything changed.hh.

Fairhill Bhoy
Reply to  ,big packy
December 11, 2018 8:34 pm

BP-considering you didn’t know what happens if Celtic win on Thursday how would you know if anything has changed ?

,big packy
Reply to  Fairhill Bhoy
December 11, 2018 8:44 pm

FAIRHILL BHOY, thought you had fallen out with me, glad your talkin to me now, yes I did not know what would happen on Thursday, put that down to my 65 year old bonce, but corkcelt and GG put me right, hope you are ok hh,

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  The Gombeen Man
December 11, 2018 8:53 pm

Kwality post TGM

rebus67
Reply to  ,big packy
December 11, 2018 10:25 pm

Packy,

A pub just off Trafalgar Square….”No Scots! No Irish!”

Rebus

The Gombeen Man
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 10:27 pm

Big Packy/ TET,

Cheers lads,

Packy yes I do remember those lovely notices.
It takes a bit of work to forgive those sentinents.
It became easier when I realised that those notices were based on a fear based perception.
This afflicted with such a narrow perspective never really see life as it is and their bias is usually an expression of their own unhappiness and one dimensional life.
Thankfully I am free of such corrosive thinking.

HH

jimthetim53
Reply to  ,big packy
December 11, 2018 10:31 pm

BP, I helped out too 🙁

,big packy
Reply to  jimthetim53
December 11, 2018 10:49 pm

jimthetim53, apologies, you wait in ten years time when you get to 65 ??.

jimthetim53
Reply to  ,big packy
December 11, 2018 10:53 pm

Cheeky devil! You know fine well I turned 65 in October :))

Margaret McGill
December 11, 2018 10:54 pm

..and Mark Walters bananas
whats changed from the halcyon days of TB, Hitler, Theology and colonialism…err not much

,big packy
Reply to  jimthetim53
December 11, 2018 10:59 pm

JIMTHETIM53, knew that just could not help myself,????.

,big packy
Reply to  rebus67
December 11, 2018 11:01 pm

REBUS67, probably Chelsea fans.??,

The Exiled Tim
Reply to  The Gombeen Man
December 11, 2018 11:30 pm

They still have the notices, I was in england a couple of years back picking up a motor, on the way down to Portsmouth stopped of a few times for a bite to eat and a beer or two, we went as rural as we could find as we had the time and wanted to see parts of england we had never been to, feck me, our eyes were opened big time, local rules for local people, visitors not really welcome, defo not welcome if you were of colour or Irish.

majoc
Reply to  Margaret McGill
December 11, 2018 11:36 pm

MARGARETMCGILL

Yes,I agree with you about that incident. A blight on our reputation. Although I’m pretty sure that was not only our nadir,but also our last incident of that type.

I certainly hope so.

The Gombeen Man
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 11:45 pm

I didn’t know that. What an awful way to live. Almost like being afraid of your own shadow. Similar to Alf Garnett ranting and raving.

Margaret McGill
Reply to  majoc
December 11, 2018 11:53 pm

Nir Bitton

Margaret McGill
Reply to  The Exiled Tim
December 11, 2018 11:57 pm

yup seen that in Devon

saltires en sevilla
December 12, 2018 12:21 am

New article posted.

mahe
Reply to  ,big packy
December 12, 2018 12:53 am

BP,,, if you were a black Irish wolfhound you had no chance man !