Shaka Hislop reflects on 15 years of Showing Racism the Red Card ahead of our 15th AGM
As I look back on how far we've all come in that time, I can't help but look forward to the continued journey in a secure belief that every written letter, every spoken word can make a difference.
On November 22nd, 1995, then-Newcastle-goalkeeper Shaka Hislop wrote to Ged Grebby expressing his support for an education pack Ged had been promoting, as well as donating £50 to further help the cause.
Ged still has that letter, placed proudly on his office wall. Here's what it said:
Thanks for sending me the Youth Against Racism in Europe pack. Unfortunately I have maybe a little too much on my plate to think of an appropriate statement right now, and I won't hurriedly do something flimsical.
Please keep bothering me for one though. I've also enclosed a cheque and would like one copy of each pack sent to me at the club. I will continue to make regular contributions. Thanks for the education pack and your patience. I will make that statement you asked for.
Bye for now...
Shaka's support has continued from that day, from attending Westgate Community College in 1996 with his Newcastle United colleague John Beresford, right up to attending our Parliamentary magazine launch this year.
Shaka wrote to Ged again this week, reflecting on the impact they have had, an impact that neither could have envisaged in 1995:
Has it really been 16 years since I first sent that letter to you and Kevin? Really? It seems like only yesterday... who am I fooling? I only have to look around my house and the 5 kids running rampant for a not-too-gentle reminder of how much has changed in that time. How much has changed. How much we have changed.
What started simply as a commitment to community has blossomed into a voice that resonates with so many. Still that commitment to those closest to us remains the fundamental building block of all the excellent work that SRtRC continues to do. Using football and footballers to champion the cause and the message seemed pretty straightforward at first. Slowly people realised that we players were every bit vulnerable and sometimes fragile as everyone else. And as players faced their own tribulations it inspired us all to do the same.
Even today as players still face abuse on the pitch in honestly trying to do their jobs, players know they have the wider support of an increasingly aware public. A public that has become less tolerant of society's ills, and more vocal of their disapproval thanks to the insight and voice that SRtRC continues to echo.A support, insight and voice that can quickly drown the rumblings of a 75-year old world-football leader and social dinosaur.
As my wife-of-16 years! and I run around from gym practice to ballet class I can't help but feel that 16 years is a long time. As I look back on how far we've all come in that time, I can't help but look forward to the continued journey in a secure belief that every written letter, every spoken word can make a difference."
22 November 2011
This evening, our Management Committee members will meet at our Annual General Meeting to discuss the work we have undertaken this past year, and how we plan to move ahead into the next. To view our Annual Review for 2011, please click here.