Football unleashes emotion. We know that. That’s why we go. There is nothing quite like the feeling when the Hammers score.
Unfortunately, there are individuals who can’t control themselves and are able to give the club a bad name. Of, course , I am referring to the aftermath of the Liverpool game when a fan was filmed on a mobile phone shouting at Mo Salah when he was taking a corner , ‘Salah, you f…..Muslim, fucking M…. c…t.’
The first point to be made is that the individual concerned has to be pretty stupid. In this day and age of mobile phones and social media, his brain didn’t comprehend that he was risking his season ticket to West Ham and potential prosecution.
Of course, progress has been made. Let me recall the words of Clyde Best, remembering his introduction to English football:
‘It was a hostile time. Racism was endemic in English football. I was still young, a teenager, living in digs in Jessie Charles’ home in 1970.
I got this anonymous letter – it made my blood run cold – warning me that as I emerged from the tunnel I would have acid thrown in my eyes. It knocked me sideways.
I’d had plenty of stick when we played away from home about the colour of my skin.
I’ll never forget going to Everton and hearing perpetual monkey chants. I knew the best way to silence them was to score – which I did. There were police on each side of the tunnel as Bobby Moore led us out. I have never run so fast in a game.
In those days as a black player you were in for a hard time where ever you went away from home. You just had to tough it out.
I always tried to remember what my dad told me before I left: I was playing for those who came after me.’
It’s not just racial abuse.A few games ago, Sian Massey-Ellis was a linesman. When she made a controversial decision, a supporter sitting near me, who sees himself as a bit of a wit, shouted, ‘ Go back to the kitchen.’Not quite as shocking as the Salah abuse, but still definitely unacceptable.
Now, I am not putting myself forward as any example of tolerance. But , I do take my grandson to most games. And I hope that he will grow up to be more racially tolerant than my generation.
After all, would some supporters be happier if the black players in our team f… off? Perhaps, we should get rid of the Poles and anyone with Irish ancestry. The Austrians are as bad as the Germans, they can f.. off and we don’t want any Dagoes.
This all would probably mean, we could field Mark Noble to represent us. It’s daft, isn’t it? And do we really wish that Mo Salah hadn’t come to this country and demonstrated his memorable skills, which are a privilege to watch?
The BBC have recently shown a documentary called ‘The Survivors’ which is still available on BBC iplayer. It is the account of the last survivors of concentration camps who were children at the time ,taken for slaughter. Watch it and then follow it up withthe films ‘Schindlers List’ and ‘Son of Saul’. It’s a sobering experience.
What can the club do about it? The stewards could be more active, pointing out to officials where abuse takes place and even filming it. The club should appoint an official responsible for eliminating racial and other abuse. It’s not enough for the Club to roll out their normal line about not tolerating racial abuse. Let West Ham be a leader in this area.