How far we’ve come.
I went to the England V USA game at Wembley last night and it made me feel very proud. Not of the result, the fact was England coasted to an easy win, without having to raise their game, over a very disappointing and frankly lack lustre side.
What made me proud was before the game myself and Mrs Akela were drinking in a pub called The Bear on Wembley High Road. As you can imagine it was pretty busy, trade was brisk at all the bars and restaurants in the area before the game. And in it I saw a group of young women, clearly of Asian decent, in England shirts. And it made me realise how far we have come.
Now seeing a group on Asian women in one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs of one of the world’s most ethnically diverse cities in the world may not be a surprise. Actually in that area it would be more surprising to see a group of white women! It was the fact though that they were wearing England shirts that made me so proud. Not because of some jingoistic Daily Mail style crap about them having immersed themselves in our culture, but simply because they were comfortable doing so.
Twenty years ago things were very different, England games at Wembley were packed to the rafters with skin head Neanderthals, all racist, all up for a fight, all utterly vile. It was a hot bed of and a recruiting ground for the likes of the National Front and the BNP. You certainly wouldn’t have taken a child there, unless you had taken complete leave of your senses, women were scared to go and as for anyone that was black or Asian, you could forget it. They would have been abused, beaten up or worse. It was a horrible, vile atmosphere.
Today though things are different, families go to games, black and Asian people go to games. The atmosphere is so much more friendly, yes it’s noisy and the crowd get behind the team and there is a certain amount of banter with the other side’s fans, but it does not have that nasty edge to it that it once had.
In a crowd of 71,000 like we had last night, or the 90,000 there would be in a sell out crowd there will be unpleasant people, that’s the way it is. Indeed I saw the police having a “quiet word” with one individual who was selling UDA/UVF pin badges etc. Despite this though it is a so much healthier atmosphere.
Race relations in the UK are still not perfect, we have a lot to, both white, black and Asian. Yet if young Asian women are proud to walk where was once the home of the most vile people this country has to offer, it can’t be all bad can it?