WOTMT
Being a Black Wednesdayite
There has been much recent debate about race and football. We asked Wednesday fan 'David' to share his views. We have protected his real name.

I have been an avid Wednesday fan since I was a teen. I have also been a season ticket holder for the past 20 years and attend both the home and away games. I first started going to Hillsborough in 1974 (14 years old). I attended with my “white” friends and we all lived in an all-white part of the city. As most people are aware attending matches in the 70’s and 80’s was not necessarily the safest place to go. I, like the few other Black supporters that attended matches had to “fit-in”, although fitting in wasn’t enough. Often targeted not only by opposing fans but our own fans too, although it wasn’t often that I was subject to direct abuse at home games, physical attacks did happen more than I care to remember, I had to endure, like others at the games, the abuse Black players received at games.

Don’t get me wrong, like most teens back in the 70’s we were going to the matches for similar reasons, as a black supporter though you had to watch your back from both sets of fans. I’m sure you will know the song “I’d rather be a **** than a blade", and a few others often used to be sung, and you can still hear it now on the odd away day. Things have improved yes, but you still hear racist abuse shouted at players at least once a season, but things are improving.

In saying that I still experience racial profiling at matches.  At away games where they do “random pat downs” as a black man 90% of the time I am patted down, compared to my friends who are subjected to this far less than myself. Although like many Black people I’m used to this kind of profiling it doesn’t stop it from being any less crap and annoying, especially when posing the question, who is more likely to cause trouble me at 60 years old or my friend who is in his thirties? Some clubs are worse than others, Stoke, always sticks out for me, it’s never a quick pat down and I’ve even been threatened with not being admitted when I complained I was the only person they had searched.

 At Hillsborough, I have also been subjected to racial profiling; last season I made a complaint to the club about this very thing. I took my brother to the match in the corporate section, we got shown to our seats after the meal, then at half time going back for refreshments we were required to show valid tickets (as at most grounds I have gone corporate) but we both noticed that not all others were not getting their tickets checked. When we went back to our seats after halftime, the steward that had shown us to our seats at the start of the game came over and asked us for our tickets to check them, I had noticed that when we sat down he started towards us, but he did not ask anyone else on his way to or from checking our tickets, including the group of young men who had just moved up from the standard seating.  To Wednesday’s credit they apologised for the incident and handled it extremely well unlike in the past when I have not even received a reply from similar complaints.

In light of the recent BLM movement protests and counter protests, in which some people who claim to be Wednesday supporters attended, Owls Against Racists has been active, particularly on Twitter @antiracistowls, as a result of my response I was asked to write this article. I posed the question to Owls Against Racists “As a Black SWFC fan who has been going since ’74 ever wondered why we have so few BAME supports compared to other clubs, never feels like we are welcome at times, that includes from the club, what are we doing to attract BAME fans?” It was the response to this simple question which highlights that there is still more work to be done, below is just a snippet of the responses;

I have to say in all my years supporting, I’ve never come across any racism at Hillsborough. Spent younger years on Kop, before the roof, with 3 black friends, still mates now”

“your deluded”

“same as forest it’s not down to the club it’s who likes football”

“That’s your issue not everyone else’s. Your paranoid”

I could fill this article with the responses alone and finish by asking now do you understand? But the answer would still be no. If you look around Hillsborough or any other football ground and can’t see there is an issue with how few BAME attend the following statement might say it all,

Football attracts supporters how can the club get more bame if they don’t like football”

Approximately 30% of professional footballers come from BAME communities. I would be surprised if there 1% of supporters that attend.  The reality is that there are a few clubs that have a sizeable BAME community that attend matches, and sadly Wednesday is not one of them.

My question is why? Is it our reputation? The history of racism within football, cost, clubs not actively targeting supporters from all communities, location, or cultural? The answer probably is all the above and more.

I think most of us would agree the cost of watching football in this country is too high and excludes large number of fans. When club/s offers tickets to Schools, do they target poorer areas? As fan groups can we work with the clubs and schools to get young fans into the clubs from these areas? Do we partner schools from these areas? All but one of my nephews supports United (a shame on our family) because of the work that was done in their schools. We might be doing these things already I don’t know, but we can’t sit back and watch them all going to other clubs, they might not be able to afford games now, but what about when they start work?

“For white British people, income poverty rates are similar across the country. For people from minority ethnic groups, however, income poverty rates are much higher in inner London and the English North and Midlands than elsewhere.” Joseph Rowntree Foundation

I refer to the previous statement, it is simply not OK to say that they don’t want to come to games, because lots would love to go. As a club, are we really doing enough, it is not enough to just say that is safe for you to go to games and we have campaigns around race etc.

 

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27.09.2020
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