Back in the 80s the bulbheads in the National Front used to write match reports on their rag about the English national team. Nothing strange in that you may say. After all they are English. Indeed. However, the match reports would contain glaring omissions.
For instance, if England beat someone 2-0 and a black player scored one of the goals they would write the match report as if it was a 1-0 win to England. There would be no mention of any black player on the English team, least of all if he upped and scored, either on the field or the subs bench.
The authors, heads shaved to the bone, were pursuing a course of racial purity through ethnic editing.
I was reminded of this recently when a person said to me that United only won the European Cup (their win over Bayern Munich) because of white players. Two dramatic injury time strikes from substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer secured the trophy against the Bundesliga side.
The person concerned, a respectable man, was deadly serious.
What can you say to such endemic racism?
Meantime, Ron Atkinson, is still being cold-shouldered by the mainstream media following his infamous remarks about black Chelsea player Marcel Desailly six years ago.
Big Ron, pursuing a successful career as commentator and newspaper columnist, forgot that the microphone was still on following a Champions League game between the Londoners and Monaco and made the following statement about Desailly – which initially went out via the Middle East and then rebounded back.
He’s what is known in some schools as a fucking lazy thick nigger.
Atkinson said after the comment, which led to his resignation: I made a stupid mistake which I regret. It left me no option but to resign. At the moment I can’t believe I did it. If you look at my track record as a manager, I was one of the first managers in the game to give black players a chance.
He signed black players such as Cyrille Regis, Brendan Batson and Laurie Cunningham when manager of West Brom. At the time Carlton Palmer defended his former manager despite his appalling comment about Desailly.
I’m black and I’m gonna stand up for Big Ron not because he’s a friend of mine, I’m standing up for him because I know what he’s like as a bloke. If we’re going to deal with racism then let’s deal with the bigger picture of racism not about a throwaway comment that wasn’t meant in that manner.
I like Atkinson, especially his wit. When he was manager at Aston Villa he was asked by the BBC why he left his usual vantage point in the stand to come-down to the touchline in the first half.
I came down to pass on some vital tactical information to my side – like the fact that the game began 30 minutes ago, he replied.
He also told some great yarns about former Liverpool boss Bill Shankly, including one when Tommy Doherty, an ex-Man United manager (as is Atkinson), received a call from Shankly when Doherty was managing a lower league side. Shankly was enquiring about his striker.
100,000 wouldn’t buy him, said Doherty.
You’re right, said Shankly, and I’m one of them.
Great stories. He was on the papers again the other day, spinning his yarns and passing on his vast knowledge of the game. The elephant in the room (the Desailly incident) wasn’t mentioned.
As usual he was funny. However, there is a sadness attached to it all these days. He’s heading into his 70s now and I believe it is grossly unfair that such a fine career should be almost defined by one stupid, albeit terrible remark.
Isn’t it time Atkinson was invited back in from the cold?