Brady accused in racism 'slur'

  • by Staff Writer
  • Saturday, 26th November 2011

Karren Brady has been criticised by supporters for suggesting that the east End was once a 'hotbed of racism'.

West Ham's vice chair, who was born in Edmonton and schooled at a boarding school in Ware, Herts made the suggestion in her weekly tabloid newspaper this morning (Saturday).

However her claims have been rebuffed by angry fans, who were also mystified by Brady's insistence that former Hammer Clyde Best used to be regularly showered with 'a rain of bananas' at the Boleyn Ground during his playing days.

"West Ham didn't win much (anything) last season until the PFA came along and rated us highest of all the 92 senior clubs for players doing anti-racism and disabilities work," wrote Brady. "I am proud of this - immensely. Proud of all of the other people at the club, who helped the players make this so.

"When you remember that East London was once a hotbed of racism, and a rain of bananas used to greet Bermudan Clyde Best when he first played at Upton Park in the '60s, you understand exactly why the club is so committed and will remain so committed."

Brady's claims regarding the hugely-popular Best have mystified fans who have no recollection of the events she describes - whilst her claims that the east End, and presumably West Ham in particular, were once rife with racism have also been brought into question.

One supporter posting on the forums this morning said: "Someone needs to set the record straight. She [Brady] implies it was us throwing bananas at Clyde; that is completely untrue.

"A few opposition fans did throw bananas, I saw them do it. I remember seeing Clyde play when I was a little kid and he was a hero to us - largely because he shrugged off the abuse he got from opposing fans."

Meanwhile another long-term fan called for Brady to apologise immediately for her ill-advised comments. "I never saw any of that, what a shocking slur on us," they said. "I think she should retract and say sorry, I can't quite believe how angry that has made me."

If, you know, your history...

In the 1930s the east End was one of the few places to stand up against Oswold Mosely's British Union of Fascists, commonly known as the 'Blackshirts'.

The right-wing organisation planned to march along Cable Street, a predominantly Jewish area (now part of Tower Hamlets) in October 1936 but were forced to cancel the march after some 300,000 local residents and anti-fascists took to the streets in opposition.

Some 40 years on in the late 1970s, with football hooliganism rife across the country, the freshly-inaugurated National Front attempted to lure young, impressionable football fans to their cause by targeting clubs with a known hooligan problem.

Although West Ham were just one of a number of London clubs targeted by the NF - who grabbed nearly 200,000 votes in the 1979 General Election - the fascists spectacularly failed to gain a foothold at Upton Park.

This was mainly due to opposition from the club's notorious hooligan firm, the ICF, who were often seen involved in running battles with the NF and their supporters inside the Boleyn Ground. The ICF counted black writer Cass Pennant, who is of West Indian origin, amongst their leadership.

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