Monday 14 October
I arrive home pretty late this evening. As I turn the key in the lock, an excited Small Boy comes flying out of the lounge.
“Mum, come quick, they’ve stopped the match!”
And they have. England in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria. England under intense public scrutiny after a defeat in their previous match with the Czech Republic. England leading this game 2-0. England have left the pitch, in unison and in protest againt the racist chants from the Bulgarian fans.
Small Boy and I watch open mouthed. The team come back on and then leave again 10 minutes later continuing to make a stand against the unacceptable level of abuse from the terraces. I have never seen anything like it. Such a move from the manager of England, a nation obsessed with football, seems truly ground breaking and very brave.
The half time commentators applaud the action. Small Boy is adamant that they should have stopped the match completely, and on my facebook feed, many of my footballing friends agree. Nonetheless, it is a bold and decisive step from our team, executed with dignity and unity. The match does resume and England do go on to win 6-0, But this is a night when they have won a far more important victory. This is a night when they have drawn a line, so that never again will footballers have to endure racist abuse, simply because they are ‘paid a fortune’ and expected to ‘turn the other cheek‘ and ‘beat the racists on the pitch‘. This is a night when, to quote Back Pages it’s ‘England 6, racists 0’. This is a night when I feel truly proud to the English.
“Now we’ve seen what’s happened and what’s good about it is it has got a generation of players now, not just black players, a generation of players and people that won’t tolerate it any more,”