10years of Show Racism the Red Card

Former Newcastle, Sunderland and Ireland stars gathered in Newcastle yesterday for the 10th anniversary of Show Racism the Red Card. Former Sunderland Captain Gary Bennett was joined by other legends of the north east clubs including David Kelly, Howard Gayle and John Beresford.Gary Bennett played through the bad old days of racism and has taken great pride in watching football take a stand against those who used to try to make his life a misery as a player.While Bennett, who visits schools in the region to talk about racism and its effects with Show Racism the Red Card has committed his post-playing days to helping to fight against this enduring scourge of society, he also admitted it is a fight that can never be won.Bennett, who made 296 appearances for Sunderland between 1984 and 1991 before a brief spell as a manager with Darlington said: “I don’t think it will ever be stamped out completely, that’s impossible. What we can do is educate young people to ensure it is not as prominent in society.”It’s a lack of education, it comes from peers, or family members. We ask them why they think that and show them why it’s wrong. It’s very successful because football is such a powerful tool. We do football coaching, we watch the videos, we do workshops, it’s a day of activities.”As a black player you always knew you were going to get plenty of abuse when you went there. It happened at a lot of grounds, but it was always worse when you went there. When you’re young maybe it was something that made you a little nervous, but you learned to put it to the back of your mind or you used it as your inspiration.””It’s only as I’ve got involved with the SRRC campaign that I learned about how racism changes shape the whole time and targets different groups.”The sentiments are the same but the racism we come across mainly now is antiMuslims, asylum-seekers and immigrant workers from Eastern Europe. They are the ones getting the backlash and these are all issues we look at with school children.Banana skins and monkey chantsHoward Gayle was the first black player to turn out for Liverpool and one of the first to feature for both Newcastle and Sunderland. The abuse he received was often horrific.When Howard Gayle played for Newcastle United on loan in 1981 the home supporters began a song in his honour. “He’s black, he’s broon, he plays for the Toon, Howard Gayle, Howard Gayle.””When I played for Newcastle and for Sunderland, the fans were great, both on and off the pitch.”When I’d been an opposition player at St James’s Park I was spat at, there were monkey noises and all sorts of racist abuse. It wasn’t pleasant, but sadly it was something I had become used to.”From banana skins being thrown at me, to spit in the face at English grounds to 70,000 Germans at Bayern Munich chanting and making the Nazi salute.I followed the mobJohn Beresford used to racially abuse black players as a fan, but he told Luke Edwards how professional football helped show him the error of his ways.Like many white teenagers growing up in Britain’s major towns and cities in the seventies and eighties John Beresford was on racism’s frontline.As a school pupil in Sheffield, Beresford (pictured above) shared a classroom with black friends, but when he went to watch his beloved Sheffield United he readily joined in the racists chants which plagued every black player on a visit to Bramall Lane.Like so many of his peers, Beresford did not think he had anything personal against black people, he just joined in with the rest of the mob when they launched their vicious verbal abuse.At times, he felt it was wrong, but it was only when he began to play football alongside black teammates that he learnt about the damage the mindless chants and jokes could have.”I was asked to help Show Racism The Red Card when I was playing for Newcastle,” reflects Beresford, who was one of the first players in the region to agree to help the campaign 10 years ago.”I was asked whether I had any experience of racism in football and I said I did, that when I used to go to games as a teenager, I used to make monkey noises and I joined in the racist chants.”It caused quite a stir at the time, but all the black teammates I had were just pleased I’d spoken about it. They knew I knew it was wrong, but it had helped highlight the issue.”I’m not looking for a pat on the back, I’m not perfect, but I think the campaign has been so successful because white players have also spoken out against it. It’s OK to have black players saying they’ve experienced this or that, but it helps when their white teammates come out and say how wrong it is.Also attending the anniversary was Ireland and former Sunderland striker David Kelly. Kelly says: “This is a good campaign. I became involved shortly after the Ireland Vs England game was abandoned due to violence started by racists. I felt it was quite appropriate to be in the campaign all the more so because I scorred the goal of that match”.Source: The Newcastle Journal

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