I stared at my friend in disbelief. “What was that they were singing?” I asked. He didn’t reply, he just gave me a grim look which compounded my worst fears.
Wrexham fans, yet again, had indulged in racist chanting at a football match. Make no mistake, this wasn’t one individual, this was
a group of people. For the first time at a Wrexham game (except for maybe Hayes & Yeading a few seasons back) I didn’t want to be there.
I was disgusted.
But unlike numerous other no doubt well intentioned people, I no longer fall into the trap of harping on about how bad racism is.
We all know it’s deplorable to shout these sorts of things at lads we’re meant to be 100% behind from start to finish. It’s deplorable to make judgements on opposition players based on the colour of their skin, their religion, their nationality, their sexuality etc etc.
But it doesn’t help to say that.
Imagine you’ve just been mugged. The last thing you’d want is someone coming up to you and saying, “Well stealing is wrong, it’s so wrong. What an idiot. Who did that to you?”
It wouldn’t help, it would be what I call ‘opinion glitter’.
Nice to look at, distracting and shiny, but ultimately useless.
So, what to do?
Undoubtedly in a society founded upon democracy (ha! The irony is strong with this one), we must accept that some people, regardless of what can be said to them, hold racist beliefs.
That’s fine. Go ahead, think what you want, I’ll never try to stop you despite disagreeing wholeheartedly. The problem comes when people shout these beliefs out in the presence of others.
I’m not claiming Wrexham AFC is a socialist utopia. In fact, a fair whack of our fans are such Tories that it actually unsettles me a bit that we love the same thing. Anyway, I digress.
We have to set down a standard of behaviour that people will come to associate with the club. We are a fans’ owned, inclusive community club. Key words being ‘inclusive’ and ‘community’.
When we have black players and fans, shouting out “coon” (direct quote there) isn’t acceptable. When we have a student village next
door to us with many Arab and Asian students who could be persuaded to sample the greatness of a Saturday watching the Town, making
racist gestures or blathering about Muslims (again, both have happened) isn’t acceptable.
The club is for everyone, be they the fan who turns up for the first time and decides to make it a regular thing, or the seasoned devotee who hasn’t missed a game since Orient away on a Tuesday night in ’68.
And the colour of someone’s skin or any other aesthetic or personal aspects does nothing to change that.
Again we come back to the question, what to do?
Well you can’t start making promises about getting people banned, naming and shaming etc. That is a measure which will be taken by people when they need to take it.
It’s down to the individual, not a group of people to roam around actively seeking out racism. In life, you don’t spray water over a burnt down house, you simply don’t fall asleep with the chip pan on.
You sort out the cause, not the consequence. So how do we do this?
In the next few weeks, you’ll hear about a little group. The aim is to reach out to the community, extend the club to the widest audience possible, and work with the club to develop a firm anti-racism message.
But lets not limit this to racism.
Prejudice of all kinds exists in this day and age, and it always will. Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, misogyny and ableism. All are unacceptable because they discriminate against people who would otherwise be our supporters.
As I have previously stressed, I’d be appalled if this was seen as a way to stamp out someone’s opinion. It’s a way to stop that opinion offending other people and ruining their enjoyment of the game.
People will always have a drink and will sometimes shout stupid things. But in front of children, people who aren’t that
way inclined, and potential fans, perhaps it’s best to just keep your funny prejudicial comment to yourself eh?
It’s time to build this club around the way we see the town. Multi-cultural, diverse, and the place we’re all proud to call
Now the Trust own the club, it’s never been more important for all of us to stand up and pull our weight.
The group will consist of several board positions, including President, Secretary, Community Organiser, Volunteer Coordinator and Treasurer.If you would like to help, have any ideas or would like to get involved in any other way, send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org