On Friday evening, I went to watch a play about Laurie Cunningham and the racial abuse that he received. I was in two minds about going as I still had the remnants of a cough following a cold and am so glad that I did go. As one review said “the three-strong cast whizz through almost 100 years of football history, brilliantly swapping roles and characters in the same slick, smooth way that Cunningham was famed for on the pitch.”
It was thought provoking and also humorous at times. It included an incident where a drunk racist accosts Cunningham and his white girl friend. Cunningham knocks him down and the girl friend says, “Laurie, please stop!” The drunk hears the name and asks if he is Laurie Cunningham because he’s a Baggies fan who loves Laurie Cunningham. He ends up saying sorry and asking if Laurie can get him a ticket for a cup game!
The play made me think about the way that football can unite and divide. It can unite people from different backgrounds and different beliefs in the support of a team. It can also provide an opportunity for abuse of different races as some Bulgarian fans illustrated. There was also the incident at the game between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town, when Haringey walked off. It is disgraceful that such racist abuse still exists in the game and that there is still a need for organisations such as Kick it Out.