I finally got Sky Sports! This meant a weekend of… you guessed, sports. There was the Six Nations (ok., that was on free view anyway) and plenty of football (hello, Sky Sports!), British and non-British. And then there was something else.
The TV was left on between matches, as I prepared dinner. Background noise, you know? And through the noise came the voice of Paul Canoville.
Paul Canoville was Chelsea’s first black player and regardless of how many times I watch the documentary on his life, his story at the club will always be beyond my full grasp. It seems the same country which opened its doors and arms to me and made me feel at home (a white emigrant, but an emigrant nonetheless), this country I grew to love as my own, this country used to allowed open racism, not so long ago.
In 1982, Paul Canoville entered the pitch half way through the match not to clapping and cheers, but to a load of loud racist abuse from his own team’s fans. When he left the club in 1986, he was having problems with another team player for… you guessed, racism.
Maybe I’m in denial about the fact that I’m getting older, but this all seems to have happened yesterday to me. And we’ve come such a long way since, that it would be unwise to forget where we’ve come from and what others have gone through so recently. We could become complacent…
Let us not forget. Let us be grateful for the courage of others before us.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I would like to end on a positive note though – where we are now. This country that I grew to love as my own is brave enough to look inwards and be critical of itself; this country has become welcoming (wasn’t it always, really? it’s so hard to believe it now) and open and friendly and… home. Well done and thank you!
Photo from here.