Racism Even Hitting Lower Levels of FootballPeter Houghton
Just where will racism in our game end? As high profile figures in the game suggest things like leaving the field of play in the event of racist abuse and other saying “No, let’s not because it gives the abusers victory”, we have seen two reported incidents in the lower reaches of football where teams have been withdrawn from the field and the clubs being fined for their actions.
Quite what this says about the way clubs are being treated by the FA, I’m not sure. But it appears that incidents of this nature are becoming rife throughout football and it is therefore a major concern and challenge for our colleagues at all levels.
The first incident goes back to January and allegedly took place at a club once close to my heart, Wythenshawe Town FC. I grew up in Wythenshawe which was, at the time a sprawling, local authority estate housing up to 100,000 people, probably the biggest in Europe in the post-war years. Town, who play in the first division south of the Hallmark Security League, have an affiliation with a professional club, Fleetwood Town FC and is a club that has always done its best to provide grass roots football right down to the younger age groups.
In January an assistant referee, name undisclosed, allegedly made a racist remark to a Town footballer, heard and witnessed by a number of players and those on the bench. Manager James Kinsey withdrew his side from the match, was suspended and the club fined. Needless to say this went down like a lead balloon with Kick-it-Out.
Meanwhile, over at Padiham FC a similar situation arose in a match between Congleton Town FC and Padiham FC last October. It is odd that these news items are only now starting to appear in the press.
Allegedly, Padiham’s goalkeeper, Tony Aghayere, once on Burnley’s books, was subjected to abuse from Congleton Town supporters behind his goal. This led to the Padiham team being withdrawn from the field, their Chairman speaking to the referee and finally with Congleton taking the correct step of reporting the issue to Cheshire Police. Well done to them. This was a North West Counties League match.
We are well aware of the FSOA’s desire to support grass roots football. It is difficult enough enough when high profile football at the upper reaches of the game are subjected to abuse, but for it to exist at the levels describes above is almost desperate and wreaks of the lower levels “copy-catting”. At these levels the function of Safety Officer is often carried out by the club secretary or chairman who are most often business people in their own rights and have other interests to run. Maybe we should ensure that if we are asked for help by our more junior colleagues, in football pyramid terms.