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'West Ham's racism': a response


Filed: Tuesday, 5th June 2007
By: Gordon Thrower


I’ve seen some appalling journalism written about my club over the past year or so. A lot of it stems from poor journalistic standards coupled with a desire to sensationalise in order to sell newspapers.

Then there is the purely ignorant. David “Fulham. No Chelsea” Mellor’s weekly column in the Evening Standard is pure comedy gold for anyone with a decent sense of irony. Normally one can ignore such ramblings in the hope that an intelligent reader can make up his or her own mind and, in the case of Mellor, presumably the newspaper income, keeps him off the streets and frightening the children.

However once in a while you come across something that is so obnoxious, so insultingly wrong, that it borders on the actionable. I refer of course to an article that appeared on a website written by Emdad Rahman. His article has prompted a massive response and, whilst one abhors any suggestion of abuse, I felt strongly enough about what I consider to be one of the most ignorant pieces of rubbish it has ever been my displeasure to read – and bear in mind that I’ve read nearly all the drivel we’ve been subjected to by Dave “Slave Labour at reasonable rates” Whelan and Kevin “Wot No Brain” McCabe in recent weeks.

Let’s start at the beginning of Mr Rahman’s spectacular spot of foot in mouth disease:

Let’s get one thing straight right from the onset - West Ham should have been relegated for cheating. The ONLY reason they got let off was because they were a bigger draw than their relegation rivals.

Well I suppose if you’re going to start an article with lie you may as well make it a big one. A question.: What evidence do you suppose Mr Rahman has for this accusation? The answer: None whatsoever.

A cursory glance at the Independent Commission’s report on the whole affair should tell you all you need to know. Obviously I’m not part of the club these days – my share having disappeared in the general direction of Iceland last year with all the others. However if I were somehow involved in the running of the club I’d be getting mightily fed up with people continuing to perpetrate this libel and a few words from my learned friends might focus Mr Rahman’s mind a bit.

The other bee in my bonnet (or hat) for that matter stems from the racism factor at the club. West Ham are still very much a ‘white’ club. I absolutely loathe West Ham and their racist fans, surprising considering I once had a soft spot for them during my childhood, along with Manchester’s premier club of the sky blue variety.

Now call me old fashioned or naïve or whatever but I was not aware that there was a list of white clubs and non-white clubs. Maybe Mr Rahman could enlighten us as to the clubs he considers to be white and which ones he considers to be non-white. Mr Rahman informs us that because we are a “white” club this makes us all racists and, as a result he loathes us. I understand that there is a word for the hatred of someone based on the colour of their skin. Perhaps Mr Rahman could inform us as to what that word is? Better still maybe Mr Rahman could explain why his hatred of me as a white person who holds a season ticket at the Boleyn does not constitute racism?

And yes, before you start chatting breeze with regards to massive away support I’d like to mention that swindling, tax dodging and unlawful earnings go a hell of a long way towards subsidising a good trip up North. .

Now here’s a funny thing. I know a lot about tax dodging and unlawful earnings. It just so happens that I used to work as a taxman. It’s ok guys you can still talk to me – I left a long, long while ago and I now defend people against the excesses of HM Revenue & Customs rather than working for them. I spent a long while working with the rather grand title of “Investigator” for a department called Special Trade Investigation Unit. My job was to detect tax evasion in places like the clothing sweatshops that populate various parts of London. It’s fair to say that, at the time, that industry left a lot to be desired in the compliance stakes – which is why the special unit existed in the first place.

Many of those units were run by the Bengali community. If I applied the same logic as that applied by Mr Rahman to his rather poorly structured diatribe my next step would be to brand all Bengalis as tax dodging dole cheats. Mr Rahman would no doubt be up in arms at such a comment – and rightly so. It would be unfair to draw a sweeping generalised conclusion based on an illogical racial stereotype. Quite why Mr Rahman should think he is exempt from such conventions I have no idea but I have no intention in stooping to his level on this one.

A browse through an analysis report from the Norman Chester Centre for Football Research made fascinating reading. I learned that that in 1978, sympathisers of the National Front were leafleted outside a number of League grounds, being especially active at key London venues, notably West Ham, Chelsea, Millwall, and Arsenal, following the launch of the National Front youth newspaper ‘Bulldog’ in 1977. ( University of Liecester ) .

I agree these documents make fascinating reading. So do old copies of Private Eye magazine – and they have about as much relevance to modern life. We learn that about 30 years ago a far right organisation leafleted football grounds. It’s a fascinating history lesson to be sure and I find it worrying to note that because I am white and I frequent a place outside which racist material used to be circulated when I was a teenager I am, by Mr Rahman’s logic, a racist. This apparently applies irrespective of how distasteful I might have found the material being circulated at the time or even whether I stooped so low as to even bother read the vile stuff.

However, where does this leave Mr Rahman? – after all he tells us that he’d be a Millwall supporter if he had a London team and Millwall is noted as one of those places leafleted all those years ago. However I think I can help Mr Rahman out on this one. The New Den isn’t the same place as was being targeted by the National Front back then – they’ve moved grounds. So Mr Rahman can go to the New Den safe in the knowledge that he is not attending a place where racist material was circulated, possibly before he was born. He will no doubt be thankful to learn that he’s not racist and I can only look forward to the day we move into our new ground so I can stop being a racist too.

Apart from the racism West Ham fans are just plain nasty. That horrible picture of Paul Ince, head down and being subjected to a tirade of verbal volleys at the Boleyn is forever etched in my memory. The bile directed towards Frankie Lampard and the acceptance of the prodigal son, the club spearhead, the has-been Lee Bowyer was definitely keeping things ticking in the traditional Hammers way. .

So much ignorance in one place it’s difficult to know where to start. The disingenuous mention of Ince in the same breath as racism makes a link between the two despite appearing to suggest the opposite is true. Whether this was a deliberate juxtaposition of ideas by Mr Rahman I do not know.

From the rest of his poorly written article I’d suggest that he isn’t that clever. However it is still worth pointing out that Ince gets abuse because he posed in a Man Utd shirt whilst still a Hammer and because of the disgraceful way he acted whilst at the club – I still have memories of him stood in the centre circle with his hands on his hips refusing to play in a match that was going on about him. It has absolutely nothing to do with the colour of his skin.

Should you require evidence of this Mr Rahman you’ve already provided it by citing the example of the decidedly white but equally as obnoxious Lampard who has a dig at West Ham at every ghost-written and well paid opportunity. Nasty? Well the last time we played Chelsea Joe Cole played and when his name was announced he was greeted with warm and generous applause. Nasty us, we were obviously trying to confuse the poor lad by being nice to him.

Bowyer? Well from my far from lofty position at KUMB towers I’d say that a majority of Hammers have no time for him. From a personal view I have similar distaste for the antics of Shaun Newton last year. The club retained his services. Does that make all West Ham Supporters apologists for the drug trade? No of course not. We had no control over the club’s decision to retain Newton’s services just as we had no control over the decision to sign Bowyer.

I could go on dissecting Mr Rahman’s article to the n’th level but frankly it’s getting late and I’ve been writing this for hours as it is. Anyone who thinks Clyde Best wasn’t popular at the Boleyn clearly wasn’t there at the time and frankly speaks from a position of such ignorance I feel almost feel sorry for the bloke.

BUT: there is one vain hope that I will wake up tomorrow and find that this has all been an elaborate wind-up and it is this:

“There were progressive managers, such as Ron Atkinson of West Bromwich Albion, who had three outstanding black players - the late Laurie Cunningham, a thrilling winger who ended up at Real Madrid, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson.” .

Ron Atkinson? Whatever happened to him? Perhaps Mr Rahman would like to start a campaign to get him back on our TV screens so he can share his “progressive” views with the world once more. Let us know how you get on Mr Rahman – I wish you the best of luck.

I would however suggest that in future if you are going to pontificate (if you’ll permit me the use of that verb in its non-religious sense) to the world on a subject you should at least research the matter lest someone as irritating as me should come along and expose your own ignorance and prejudices.

Or as the old KUMB adage goes: “’tis sometimes better to remain silent and be thought of as stupid than it is to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.







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