I recently spent a day with the Punjabi Wolves, the fanatical supporters group for the Wolverhampton Wanderers football team.
The way the group, which has around 1500 members, has brought in people from all races and promoted the Punjabi culture at games needs to be seen to be believed.
I travelled with the group on an away trip and saw the unique sight of white and Asian men dancing to the dhol drum, singing bhangra chants and creating the atmosphere at the game.
You had white fans wanting to try out the drum and singing songs about that powerful cultural import – chicken vindaloo and chicken madras.
The day began at 8am in the Jubilee House pub in the Black Country. I spoke to fans about how Punjabi Wolves was just a banner and how football and the local area had brought different communities together.
The coach on the way to the game at Bradford was lively with plenty of banter. Pete Bassi, one of the founding members of the group, told me how they have grown since they launched in 2007 through holding charity events.
At a stop, on a service station in Stoke, the dhol drum came out again. It attracted Manchester United fans who came over to watch and shake hands with the Wolves supporters.
At 2pm the coach rolled into Bradford’s Valley Parade. Out came the flags, scarves and of course the drum.
Police officers looked bemused as the 50 people on the coach came out singing songs like ‘Kennie Jackett’s barmy army’ and ‘Danny Batth’s from Brierley Hill, Brierley Hill, Brierley Hill. Danny Baath’s from Brierly Hill, f**k off Johnson.’ The song is about Wolves defender Baath and their hatred for ex-player Roger Johnson.
Before the game, a group of Wolves members headed to a local café to introduce themselves to Bradford fans and promote the Punjabi Wolves name. The difference between fans from up North compared with London regarding their friendliness and openness was plain to see.
Come game time, the Wolves fans were tucked away in a corner of the ground but they were the life and soul of the party.
They fell quiet temporarily when Bradford took the lead but they were soon back on song as Wolves came from behind to win 2-1.
Bradford are among a few grounds that allow the dhol drum into the stadium. Other clubs should follow suit as it creates a unique Indian wedding-like atmosphere and is nothing like the England band that annoys some fans.
Post-match, people were crowding around to film the spectacle on their phones as fans jumped up and down wildly and hugged each other to celebrate the victory.
This was not a Cup final but a League One game which showed just how much these fans cared.
My over-riding conclusion was if a similar fan group was created by more clubs it would break down more barriers between races, create a more family-friendly atmosphere at football and move on from age-old chants like the Y-word.
The Punjabi Wolves model is a solution to tackling racism in football terraces and getting a more diverse range of people attending games.
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