Show Racism the Red Card visited the Molineux Stadium and spoke to Wolves manager Mick McCarthy
Show Racism the Red Card are currently filming an updated version of our Show Racism the Red Card educational DVD. This is the third of our interviews from our day at Wolverhampton Wanderers - you can also hear from Matt Jarvis and Karl Henry.
What would you say if a young player came and told you that he had been suffering racial abuse from supporters?
I’ve never had it thankfully, so it would be off of the top of my head, but I think I would have to get to the bottom of how it was affecting him first. We would have to establish what he wanted to do about it, because that is important, and should we have supporters coming here racially abusing players, we would take it very seriously.
I do hear some abuse and it is not just racism; some of the things they shout at the players because they know their wives and things that are going on in their lives due to things like Facebook and Twitter – it’s an open book now.
Football has come a long way since your playing days, where some of the worst incidences of racism could be seen at a stadium. Now football is one of the better environments in this country, with less racism than in most other areas of society. What are your thoughts on this change?
It has definitely changed since I was playing, I’ve been there when bananas were thrown on the pitch and there was monkey chanting. It offends everybody that’s there, it really does.
If you travel abroad, some of the teams get racism there. In Eastern Europe there is still quite a bit of racist chanting. I wonder about that as well, I know the ignorance of it is dreadful, but I wonder if it is done just to upset the players or if there is malicious racist intent? Do they hate the black players when they do it, or do they want to upset them by doing it? I understand that is equally as bad, but I don’t hear it here at all – certainly not at this football club.
Was there a particular black player who received racism who you were playing with or against?
Yes I do remember; Mark Walters certainly got some terrible abuse when he was playing up in Scotland [for Rangers], which was not pleasant at all. I’ve been on the pitch when it’s happened and you start to notice it more as you get older, but when I played they didn’t like it but accepted it and said it was part of the game.
Now, quite rightly, it’s an outrage so if it did happen while I was managing, I think I would have a much different view on it. While I was always outraged by it and never liked it, I feel I would do something more about it now and be more proactive about getting it stopped. It is not something that I hear or see now in our game of football and, thankfully, it has been eradicated to a large extent.
Would you agree that the great success of our campaign is how proactive football clubs are now at tackling racism?
Absolutely and that goes for whatever it may be – homophobic chants, or racist chants. I know we are talking about getting racism out of football, but surely it is to do with anything that makes you different in somebody else’s eyes. It is a horrible form of bullying and when the chants start, no matter what it might be, it is dreadful and should be eradicated form the game.
It’s a real show of ignorance when there is somebody stood with their kids singing and shouting things – that’s that kid’s education and they are going to grow up to be exactly the same.
There is the story of the Irish player John Anderson at West Brom around the time of the IRA Birmingham pub bombing. John was arrested for his own safety because of his accent - at the time, people were assuming that anybody with an Irish accent was an IRA terrorist. Do you think there is a similar situation now with Muslim people being associated with terrorism?
My Dad was Irish and was here when signs were saying “No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs” in boarding houses. Sadly he’s not here to talk about it as he could speak far more articulately and intelligently about it because he was there. He came over from Ireland about 60-70 years ago, which isn’t that long ago.
I’m Irish – despite my Yorkshire accent – I played for Ireland, my father was Irish, my passport is Irish and that is my nationality. So I know what people went through – my Irish pals have told me, certainly the older ones, they suffered when they first came over here. So I can understand what happened to John Anderson because, when there were troubles, Irish accents weren’t welcome or they would be in trouble.
It’s associating anybody with trouble; if somebody has caused a problem, then anybody who is that colour, or has that accent, that nationality or religion is suddenly of that ilk. Of course, that’s ignorance isn’t it? We know full well that is not the case.
Show Racism the Red Card would like to express our thanks to Wolverhampton Wanderers FC for their continued support of our campaign
Thanks to Brendan Simpson for this transcript