Tuesday, 26 August 2014


                                                             BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY                                                          

Black Players

74 black players have appeared for England through to the match against Germany on 19 November 2013.  The first black player at senior level, Viv Anderson, was the 936th player to appear for England since their first match in 1872.  The most recent black player to make his England debut, Andros Townsend, was the 1197th player to appear for England.  Thus, since the "colour barrier" 35 years ago, in November 1978, roughly one in every three and a half players making an England debut has been black.
It may have been possible to have seen the first black footballer playing for England back in October 1925 with London-born Jack Leslie, a prolific striker for Plymouth Argyle between 1920 & 1935, scoring over 400 goals.  Leslie had been informed by his manager Bob Jack that he had been selected to play for England.  He later received communication cancelling his call up to the England team stating that they didn't realise he was 'a man of colour'.  Jack Leslie later remarked in 1982 to Brian Woolnough: "They must have forgotten I was a coloured boy."
A decade later saw the emergence of another great - Hong Y Frank Soo, although born in Buxton, Derbyshire in 1914, he had a Chinese father.  If it had not been for the outbreak of war, he would certainly have gained full international honours for England, as he was rated as one of the best inside forwards of the pre-war era.  He gained nine wartime and victory caps. Football fine art
Even before the time of Anderson, now relatively dubbed 'The First Black Player to Play for England', there is another candidate, and maybe if their was not the racism problems that blighted English football throughout the 1960's, then maybe a loud shout would have come from the Leeds United camp.  Paul Reaney, allegedly of mixed-race.  But without further evidence, other than a few objective photographs.... then if Reaney, why not Alf Ramsey?  We are not ruling out Reaney, we just require more evidence.- CG
Perhaps race will be irrelevant one day, but that time has not yet arrived.  While racism remains a problem in English football, these numbers indicate great strides forward have been taken at the level of national team selection.  We have not made a count, but we doubt any other European national side, with the possible exception of France, comes close to England in number of black players.
That is not to say racial considerations have not influenced England squad and team selections.  We have no way of knowing whether or not they have.  But we do know that, according to a former England manager, Football Association officials on at least one occasion tried to make race a consideration in England team selection.
Vivek Chaudhary reported in The Guardian of 24 January 2004 that a former England manager had "alleged that during his tenure he was told by senior FA officials not to pick too many black players."  The manager, Chaudhary wrote,"claims that he was called into an office where two senior FA officials were present and they told him that his England team should be made up of predominantly white footballers."
Chaudhary's story said the manager, who "has a long history of closely working with some of England's leading black players over the past 25 years, privately spoke about the incident at the lunch" marking the 10th anniversary of Kick It Out, the football anti-racism group, but "refused to go public with his allegation."  Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, the rest of the English media ignored Chaudhary's report.  
The manager in question is plainly Graham Taylor.  On several occasions during his three-year managerial tenure from 1990 to late 1993, Taylor fielded England teams  featuring a comparatively large number of black players and was the one England manager most likely to have been the recipient of such a proposal for a racial quota on the England team.  He also fits the description Chaudhary gave the manager in the story.  He was known for working closely with England's leading black players, beginning at Watford  in the late 1970s, 25 years before the story was written.   Finally, he also happened to be in London at the time of the Kick It Out lunch in connection with the London Marathon, in which he was participating. 
Racism, of course, often takes more subtle forms than racial epithets and explicit exclusion on racial grounds, both of which have been widely condemned for some time.  Far more threatening than overt racism in more recent times has been hidden racism--racism effected through discretionary decisions, where its influence is concealed precisely because these decisions are discretionary and thus readily rationalized

on other grounds.  Squad and team selections reflect discretionary determinations in which racism may play a covert role.  This more subtle form of racism may also play a part in journalistic and fan support for and criticism of certain players, or at least the level of that support and criticism. 
We hope that no England manager or head coach has ever been influenced by racial considerations in team or squad selections and that none ever yielded to pressure to pick more white and fewer black players.  We also hope the incident Chaudhary describes would not be repeated within the F.A., which, in a refreshing burst of candour when declaring in 2001 its all-out commitment to ridding football of racism, confessed it could have done more to battle racism in the game during earlier times
In Clarke Carlisle's 2012 documentary 'Is Football Racist?', Carlisle, who had received a solitary England under-21 cap, revealed that in an attempt to understand the depth of racism in the game, a current England internationalist refused to comment, because he believed that his place in the squad could be at risk from the Football Association. Consequently, no names were revealed.
Selection should, of course, be made on the basis of football considerations alone, regardless of the racial balance that produces in the squad or the team.  That is imperative as a moral matter as well as from the standpoint of assembling the best football side possible.
In the interest of clarity, the first black player to represent England at any level was in fact John Charles, West Ham United FC defender. He earned three Youth Caps for England in May 1962, twice against Israel, another a year later against USSR. It was another decade that the Schoolboy level would get their first representation, by two players in fact, Ben Odeje and Cliff Marshall. They played for the schoolboys against Northern Ireland schoolboys at Wembley Stadium, 6 March 1971, the first of five appearances for Odeje, the first of four for Marshall.