Anybody of a certain age will remember that St.James’ Park suffered with racism problems back in the day. In the seventies and early eighties what was sang on the terraces then would now make you think we’d relocated to Eastern Europe…or Sepp Blatter’s house!
I always thought it was mainly due to ignorance (which I guess to an overwhelming extent most racist behaviour is) with the north east having one of the lowest non-white populations in the country.
Once it became the norm for NUFC to recruit black players then in my eyes the problem rapidly diminished, although it will always exist because it simply mirrors society in general. In the north east there has been a massively positive nationwide influence exerted by Tyneside based Show Racism The Red Card (SRTRC), who over many years have done magnificent work – especially going into schools and catching kids early.
Maybe the sheer ridiculous nature of racism is summed up by a classic tale involving Shaka Hislop in his early days at Newcastle, filling up at a petrol station some kids started shouting abuse but when they realised who he was they wanted his autograph!
I would hate to think what Newcastle’s modern history would have been like without names such as Cole, Ferdinand and Tiote. It is not a case of being complacent but there must be a certain sense of satisfaction that Newcastle both as a city and as a football club can be put forward as modern and forward thinking, rather than a hillbilly mentality.
We all know that it can be a hard sell to especially foreign players who without visiting Tyneside will simply have a default setting that makes them see that London as a preferred destination.
It will be very interesting to see how both the football authorities and their respective clubs will deal with the fallout if Suarez and/or Terry are found to be guilty.
As we all know they wouldn’t be slow to put the boot in if it was Newcastle United in the dock.