BBC 3’s programme into racism into football, thoughtfully
presented by PFA Chairman, Clarke Carlisle, and intelligently produced by Adam
Jessel, coming on the back of the John Terry Anton Ferdinand case underlined
the issue continues to surface albeit recognising considerable progress has
been made since the 1970s and 1980s. As a number of people interviewed implied
it now assumes a more subtle and insidious form, but nonetheless is there and
can’t be ignored. The Football Association is once again the public spotlight
and the conclusion it reaches on Terry gate is eagerly awaited.
No one could have predicted, least of all Punjabi Wolves,
that since forming as a group to organise the occasional away travel games
we’ve evolved into a registered charity raising not just awareness of the rich
contribution Britain’s Asian community makes to the national game, but also
succeeded in generating £150,000 for a host of local national and international
good causes. That in essence is who we are.
Our contribution to tackling prejudice is to bring people
from diverse backgrounds together through a common love of our football club.
It is though not an explicit agenda but when it happens it can be highly
satisfying. Over the years I can recall dozens of anecdotes where at the end of
a conversation a non-Asian fan has revealed how his ignorance has been removed.
We entered that conversation as fellow Wolves fans and ended it by having even
something greater in common. (I know it’s difficult to imagine that there is
Wolverhampton was one of the early settlements of migrant
labour arriving from the Indian sub-continent; my late father included, and
despite Enoch Powell’s best endeavours remains one of the most culturally
diverse places in the United Kingdom. Yes the city still encounters racism and
prejudice, sadly this is an inescapable fact of life because utopia doesn’t
exist however thanks, in part to football and the role Wolves play as a pivotal
institution, the city is a more cohesive place than many other areas in the
country. As we roll forward the clock the city’s public cultural social and
economic affairs are becoming increasingly influenced by the children and
grandchildren of the 50s pioneers. It is evident for all to see we have truly
arrived, or have we? There does remain one obvious omission: The Theatre of
Dream aka Molineux.
For me the most powerful interview in the BBC 3 programme
was Clarke Carlisle speaking to my good friend, Butch Fazal, and two of his
young players. The look of shock and exasperation that someone who had
captained the county team had never got the opportunity to be trialled with a
professional club said it all. Over the years I would estimate hundreds if not
thousands have been denied similar opportunities. For this, like the absence of
black coaches and managers, the clubs and its administrators should hand their
heads in shame.
Having completed another hugely successful charity bike
ride from Wolverhampton to Buckingham Palace, sadly Her Majesty was out
fetching the milk, and unveiled the city’s first major public exhibition of
Sikhs in Wolverhampton story all efforts are now focusing on the annual fund Charity Masquerade Ball. Another £50,000 is the target on Saturday 29th September. So if you happen to
be in the city or passing through this part of the world do pop in. (More details to follow)
Jas Bains (Member of the Old Guard)