Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Kick Johnny P Out Of Football

Our columnist gets his wires crossed over discrimination

Pundit: Side-by-side on his piano keyboard
Pundit: Side-by-side on his piano keyboard
Nose: Practically illegal in 1950s England
Nose: Practically illegal in 1950s England
Bare-headed man: People have been arrested for less
Bare-headed man: People have been arrested for less
Funny old thing, Football. For instance, terrible to see racism rearing its bullet-shaped head again. Although of course it's nothing new. Racism's a bit like piles: there's always some arsehole willing to entertain it.
Neighbourhood freak
Prejudice was rife when I was playing too. It mattered where you came from. For instance, at West Ham we'd all grown up on the same street. Except our goalie — he came from the next street down. God, we gave him hell — the freak.
Hat hatred
Then there was the physical discrimination. You've got to remember that this was an era where if you didn't wear a hat you could be arrested for indecency. Everyone had the same hairstyle; there was even legislation around this in case of doubt. So it seemed perfectly reasonable at the time to expect everyone to have the same nose. And to ruthlessly persecute anyone whose nostrils were a little flared, or whose conk inclined more to the aquiline than the national average. Nowadays they call it discrimination, but then it just seemed a way of getting things done.
Colour prejudice
Admittedly introducing a colour swatch for eye colour before signing a player — I recall Blackburn Rovers had a thing about blue eyes, whilst Burnley required a certain shade of brown — may seem extreme now. I'm reliably informed that football skill apparently can't be judged by the length of the hairs on the thigh, either — reasonable as that always sounded. That's another classic truism debagged. Suffice to say, I'm glad people are trying to kick racism out of football now. Quite apart from anything else, discrimination is such terribly hard work.

Pip pip.
Johnny Pundit

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