I try to stay away from politics and religion in my blogs and on my Twitter. It opens too much of a can of worms that you can not close. It is not worth the time.
However, I am lifting my self imposed ban to discuss an article I read yesterday on the Sunday Times website.
The article is supposed to be aimed at Russia. Questioning whether “England’s ethnically diverse squad and fans be safe from violence and racism”. It would probably be a valid article – although possibly unneeded because we all already l is Russia is a hotbed of racism and shouldn’t be hosting the World Cup.
But an sort of validity is destroyed by “The first ever Sunday Times Apprentice” Shingi Mararike’s first paragraph.
So the self-proclaimed “Arsenal fan” claims that whilst he grew up idolising Thierry Henry, he never once asked to visit Highbury due to it feeling like a “no-go zone.”
Basically he is saying that he never went to Highbury because it was not a place for black fans. And I imagine he would include other ethnic minorities in that as well.
Now before you spit your tea out, let’s paint the picture.
Shingi Mararike, according to his LinkedIn, started college in 2012.
He would have been around 16 when London were hosting the Olympics.
Arsenal were at their swashbuckling best in 2004, the team went unbeaten. A team whose strongest XI contained 7 non-white players and not a single white Englishman:
Lauren Toure Campbell Cole
Ljungberg Vieira Gilberto Pires
But we are not talking about the players, we are talking about the fans.
In 2004, Shingi, the apprentice journalist, would have been 7 or 8.
So before he had even hit 10 years old, he had made the decision not to go to Highbury due to it being a “no-go zone” for ethnic minorities. And then he uses that experience 14 years later in an attempt to add weight to his article.
This would be a contender for the Didn’t Happen of the Year Awards.
On his online bio, Shingi does not mention football, or any sport, as one of his interested. Instead he mentions “politics and current affairs”.
I imagine at 7 years old, Shingi was not even a Junior Gunner, and had little, if any, interest in going to Highbury to watch The Arsenal.
Had he done so, his “personal experience” of what Highbury was like would be very different:
Plenty of Arsenal fans have very different personal experiences of going down Highbury than the journalist in question, who remember, admits he never went to Highbury – yet still attempts to make it appear like it is a racist hell hole.
Now I am not naive enough to believe that racism has never existed over the Arsenal. There will always be idiots. But Arsenal was certainly not a “no-go zone”. And especially not in 2004.
Even going back to the 70s & 80s, when the National Front were using football grounds to recruit new members, Arsenal were one of the few clubs that the racist group failed to break into. Due to actions of the fans.
If you want to get a true view about what it was like around Highbury in the 70s and 80s, and how fans halted the rise of the NF, have a read of the brilliant article on 8by8 Mag about how the NF attempted to make its “presence felt around Highbury” and how Arsenal fans “helped keep the NF off the terraces.”
Normally this sort of thing I would ignore. But here is a journalist attempting to claim in a national newspaper that Highbury was a “no-go zone” if you were not white.
It is rubbish. It is dangerous. It is poor journalism.