Tuesday, 16th July 2019
The thin end of the wedge
Filed: Monday, 15th April 2019
Iíve been wondering about writing this piece for the last couple of days for a number of reasons - but sod it, I think this is an issue that needs multiple perspectives.
During the Avram Grant season (2010/11) I went on my own to Bolton away. On the train back to Manchester, post match, the song in question was being sung by about 20-30 of our fans which then morphed into the "Iíd rather be a Paki then a Jew" song.
Iím not Jewish, but the first song made me feel uncomfortable - and as someone who is half Indian, the second made me downright upset.
I've no idea if it was mere revelry or something more untoward, but during the second song a can of Coke was launched down the carriage and missed my head by inches.
Again, I've no idea if it was directly aimed at me or not, but I was the only non-white face in this part of the carriage and it was difficult to not feel like I was being targeted.
At this point the other West Ham United fans Iíd been chatting to all looked to the floor or elsewhere and in the end a coupe of Bolton fans took it upon themselves to usher me further down the carriage and put themselves between the lads chanting and myself.
Whatís the point in this story? For me, it shows that this song is the thin end of the wedge.
Shame on us: How this weekend's incident was reported in the national press
If itís deemed ok to sing about Jewish people in this way, other groups will become fair game. It automatically excludes anyone whoís face doesnít fit from being an equal level of supporter and puts a target on peopleís back.
Iíve spent my life being asked where Iím really from and being told I canít be properly British because Iím not white and then, in one afternoon, this was applied to West Ham as well.
It rattled me enough that I havenít gone to any game home or away on my own since.
Saying it's all in the name of atmosphere, or banter, is bollocks. Thereís loads of other things that can be sung about for that, even more so when weíre playing teams that arenít Spurs.
If you canít raise an atmosphere or have bantz without being racist, maybe the problem isnít everyone else. Itís you.