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Sunderland v Manchester United U21 - Papa John’s Trophy

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Racism is indeed blind, as well as ignorant

Whilst Sunderland fans pride themselves on being tolerant and welcoming, even a minority of idiots can try and spoil it for the rest of us - as RR’s Kelvin Beattie sadly discovered on Wednesday night at the Stadium of Light.

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

I have just finished reading Bill Hearn’s article on Lenny Ashurst paving the way for black players at Sunderland, and what a good read this was.

I saw Len Ashurst play and witnessed much of his managerial reign. It, of course, was not the most successful period in our club history, but he undoubtedly set positive wheels in motion regarding black players representing our club.

Len Ashurst can be proud of his legacy in this regard - though, he would have been thoroughly ashamed on Wednesday night had he been sitting next to me at the Stadium of Light.

What should have been a grand opportunity to see our youngsters pit their wits against the aristocrats that are Man Utd was soured somewhat by the behaviour of a racist idiot standing behind me.

I did notice this bloke coming into his seat with what looked like his family, a woman and two older youngsters. I was quite chuffed to see so many family groups, children, and older folks there in the East Stand in the close to 4000 crowd.

Both teams took the knee just before kick-off, which triggered an eruption of booing from the family group behind me. This was quickly drowned out by the applause from the majority, and the game got underway.

Sunderland v Manchester United U21 - Papa John’s Trophy Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

There was a lot to like on the night on show from the youngsters. I was enjoying the youthful effort and skill, and the battle between Will Harris and his older, more experienced marker. Man Utd probably had the best player on the pitch in central midfield in Iqbal, being marked by arguably our best player on the night Sohna - it was a very entertaining game.

Just after half time, we scored. Dyce almost broke the net from close range to rapturous applause from all in the East Stand, including the family group behind me. Shortly afterward Iqbal scored for Man Utd, a sublime piece of skill that drew generous applause from many in the East Stand.

Iqbal’s celebration could be described as “enthusiastic”, but in no way warranted the foul racist outburst from the adult male in the family group behind me.

My reaction was not particularly thought through - I turned and told him to “shut his racist piehole”, and glowered at him. Now I do not know if he heard me amidst all of the noise, but he definitely saw me glowering at him, and we locked stares for a couple of seconds until he looked away. I heard no more from him of any real concern for the rest of the game, maybe he did hear me.

What on earth was he thinking though? There were children, old folks and family groups around us, and he was sitting with his own family. Right in front of me was an Asian fella with what looked like his two sons, totally engrossed in the game and enjoying their night - why subject us to such foul racist abuse?

Racism must be blind as well as bloody ignorant.

Sunderland v Manchester United U21 - Papa John’s Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dyce - who scored our goal - is not only a talented footballer, but he is also very clearly black! What do these racists think when they utter their crap? That because he is “our” black player, he will accommodate your bigotry, prejudice and ignorance?

If you are that “gentleman” and reading this, I want to tell you that you and your racist views are not needed at the Stadium of Light. I would sincerely like tell you they are not needed anywhere that reasonable people exist.

I have contacted the club, and hopefully you can be identified, and you can be prevented from “blessing us” with your ignorance at the SoL ever again.

I am sure as has happened with other things I have seen on social media in relation to this topic, the “excusenics” will be along, telling us the taking of the knee is divisive and is a communist threat to de-stabilise the free Western world (rather than the simple anti-racist gesture that it is). Well, save your breath, “excusenics” - this was blatant racism and there simply is NO EXCUSE.

I think Len Ashurst would have enjoyed the young players on show last Wednesday night. I am pretty sure from everything I have read and know about him he would have had plenty to say to the “gentleman” in question.

I look forward to a response from the club and to a clear steer about what we can do when hear and witness this kind of behaviour in the ground, when there is not a steward within sight.


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