As a fan of Leeds United, I always get an incredulous reaction if I highlight racist behaviour or racial abuse from other quarters. Leeds fans simply have that name – and mud that sticky just sticks like hell.
But, in common with a surprisingly vast majority of United fans, I’m a non-racist football supporter who is always looking to root out examples of such ignorance and uncivilised behaviour. And there might just be a scandalous example coming out of the Reading v Bradford City FA Cup replay, covered live by BBC1.
One of the incidents captured by the Beeb’s cameras towards the end of the first half was a fan in the Bradford end apparently directing some less than complimentary remarks loudly in the direction of young Garath McCleary, Reading’s second goal-scorer tonight. McCleary reacted with such anger and distress that there has to be a suspicion of racial abuse – given that an irate football fan and a black footballer were involved in what was clearly a flashpoint. McCleary seemed to be urged by the assistant ref to report the matter to officials in the tunnel area. That advice appeared to be reinforced as the teams went off at the interval, with McCleary still obviously upset.
As this is written, Bradford have just gone 0-3 down and appear to be facing the end of their Cup adventure – particularly as they have also had a player dismissed. But that may yet turn out to be the least of the Bantams’ worries on an evening when disgrace threatens to engulf them.
There may well be more to be heard and said about this in the next few hours and days. It emerged today that a fan was arrested and ejected from the ground at half time.