WEST HAM star Darren Randolph has said it was “normal” for him to be racially abused and even spat at while growing up.
The 33-year-old goalkeeper is a key players in the Irish squad and has been for a number of years.
Darren Randolph has said it was “normal” for him to be racially abused and even spat at while growing up.[/caption]
Randolph and Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy during a training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown[/caption]
He joins a number of beloved black Irish players, from Paul McGrath in the 90s to his current teammates David McGoldrick and Cyrus Christie.
But he remembers a time in Ireland where he was the only mixed-race player in his sports circle.
Darren said: “I notice it myself when I go back home, there’s a lot more black Irish people around. At the time when I was growing up, I can’t remember in any sport I’ve played coming up against another black player, whether they were Irish-born or born somewhere else.
“It always just seemed to be me that I was obviously the mixed race boy and that was it. And I go back to me being in school and me being the only person of a different race.
“There’s only a five-year difference between me and my brother but by the time my brother got to school there were more people of different races. So even over that short space of time, there were more probably more races in the school he went to anyway.
“And as I said now, when I go back, I do notice there’s a lot more black people and I see a lot more black players in the underage Irish teams as well and club teams.
“So it’s definitely changing, but does that necessarily mean that there is no racism? No.
“People now may not say it outright and openly like they did when I was younger. Because I would play games and it wouldn’t even be coming from players, it would be coming from the parents on the sidelines.
“It would be because I would be playing well or doing good, it wouldn’t be that I was just standing there and then I’d get a load of abuse. It would always be when I am doing well. Parents yelling abuse telling their sons to “get that…” – I won’t repeat the word.
“But that goes on top of all kinds of stuff, spitting, you know what I mean? It was normal for me back then.
“Obviously now everybody’s grown up I don’t think anyone would spit at me.. The younger ages, it definitely happened a lot more. I suppose people hadn’t matured, they hadn’t grown up.”
Darren said he was aware of being different from a young age growing up with his mum Anne and family in Bray, Co Wicklow.
‘I EXPERIENCED IT’
He recalled: “From early school days, primary school days, I knew I was different, and different stuff was said in the playground or playing sports.
“There was no getting away from it. People can say ‘we’re not racist, we’re not racist,’ but I am the one who experienced it all when I was growing up, so you can’t tell me that there aren’t racist people out there.
“I’m not saying it’s everybody, obviously it’s only a select few. But again if someone’s talking about personal experiences they’ve obviously gone through it so it’s real.” He added: “I’ve been in company where people even sometimes unknowingly will make a comment or say something and obviously to them it’s perfectly normal and fine and no harm intended in it whatsoever.
“But to somebody who is of a different race or religion, they will take offence to it. It’s the same way as if somebody called a black person ‘coloured’.
“I’ve come across people who are more comfortable using the word coloured instead of black or mixed race. If they didn’t say mixed race, they would say ‘half-caste.’ So half-caste and coloured are wrong terms to be using, they are offensive terms.”
Following the deaths at the hands of US police of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the Black Lives Matter movement has gone global.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Protests have been held around the world, including Ireland, and Premier League players this week took the knee and were seen with ‘Black Lives Matter’ replacing their names on their jerseys.
Irish star McGoldrick was a leading force in getting players to take a knee before the Aston Villa and Sheffield United game last week.
Darren said while these steps are welcome, real changes are needed.
He said: “I think more needs to be done. You have obviously organisations that are against racism around football and they give you T-shirts to wear and stuff to post, but it doesn’t do anything.
MAKING A CHANGE
“People may think about it for a day and they see the T-shirt you wear in the warm-up and then the game starts and they forget about it. So the longer this goes on and the more it stays in the media then hopefully it will sink it in. Hopefully it will be a change.
“I mean, I don’t think racism will ever be 100 per cent gone but you can make some kind of change to eradicate some of it, that obviously helps a lot.”
Football has been slammed for slurs yelled to players from the crowd, from racial abuse, religious abuse, and sectarian abuse aimed at James McClean.
Darren said: “The same stuff that is said to James is still discrimination. So why is it any different just because somebody’s black? If they’re Catholic, it’s still discrimination and it shouldn’t be allowed, so fair play to him.”
Now established at West Ham and at Ireland, Darren has no problem walking off the pitch if he hears something racially offensive.
He said: “Younger days when I was out on loan at smaller clubs and you are in smaller crowds, you do hear stuff. But back when I was on loan there wasn’t any of this, ‘tell the referee,’ and something will be done about it. You were just kind of told to get on with it really.
“A lot’s changed since then, hopefully nobody has to go through that anymore and people now know they can speak up and you can go to the ref and say, ‘this is what’s happened.’ Or you now have the power to walk off the pitch.
“And I would. And if it was a teammate, I would support a teammate and do that as well. If it was done by a player, there would be action taken straightaway.
There wouldn’t be any ‘OK, we’ll give him a warning and see if he does it again’.”
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Darren urged people to keep the pressure up to make a change.
He said: “It’s good that stuff’s being done, but taking a knee and wearing the T-shirts is a small part of a bigger issue. So hopefully it’s a start of something.
“It’s a shame it’s taken something like the George Floyd incident for it all to all kick off, but I think it’s at the stage now where people are like ‘enough is enough. It’s one too many now’.”
Chelsea Manager Frank Lampard leads his team by Kneeling at the beginning of the match[/caption]
A man celebrates Juneteenth in Chicago.[/caption]