Racism, a word that is spoken about quite a lot, but some people just put it to the back of their minds, some people just ignore it, and at the moment, a small minority of people are doing their best to stamp it out, not just in our wonderful game, but in everyday life. I must admit, I never thought about it that much, maybe because I was brought up to respect everybody, the colour of peoples skin has never bothered me one bit, after all we’re all human beings. I never thought much about racism in the Scottish game, but when I read a story about a young footballer called Gary Cohen who plays for Third Division Gretna, some memories from Livingston’s time in the lower divisions came back to me.
I remember a visit the Lions made a trip to Brechin’s Glebe Park, the Livi supporters were mixed with the Brechin supporters, and sitting today, I remember one of the home supporters making a remark about Livingston’s Davie Alleyne, calling him a blackie, saying “someone break the Blackies leg” but me being so young, and in a crowd of opposition supporters, I probably did the wrong thing, and just ignored it.
The same sort of thing happened again, this time the Lions were playing Albion Rovers at the crumbling Cliftonhill Stadium, and again, the remark was aimed at Dave Alleyne, but this time most of the Livingston supporters heard it, and the police were informed.
Then a couple of years ago, Rangers supporters disgraced themselves again by making monkey noises every time Cherif got the ball, it might have been a minority who participated, but that minority will grow if it is allowed, and Rangers FC made no attempt to apologise on behalf of their supporters. Livingston should have pressed Rangers for a statement on this, it’s times like this that the media should be informed of what happened (I’m surprised that it never got a mention) and if Rangers made no comment, Dominic Keane should have shamed the so called Glasgow giants into giving a statement through the press. Rangers were the ones who, quite rightly complained to Hearts chiefs in the early nineties when Mark Walters was subjected to disgraceful treatment during his first visit to Tynecastle in the early 1990s. The winger had Banana’s thrown at him when he went to take a corner, and Hearts supporters are still trying to distance themselves from the morons who were responsible. Below is a small section taken from a Hearts website “I'm still sickened when I remember the banana throwing incident with Mark Walters at Tynecastle more than a decade ago - and now it seems religion is also being used as a tool for the louts”.
I fell sorry for Gary Cohen. He moved up from England to try and further his career and try his best to get into the SPL, but the youngster is facing one of the biggest challenges of his life at the moment, he is trying his hardest to blank out these idiots when they make racist remarks, but the former Watford player has admitted that sometimes it is too much to bear.
I have only one regret whilst I have been a Livingston supporter, and that is not informing the Police after that incident at Glebe Park all those years ago. I know it wouldn’t have taken the problem away, but it would have been a step in the right direction.
The next person won’t be so lucky