West Ham United and their Fans – Pioneers of Kick It Out!!

Author: . Published: at 5:21pm

It really gets on my nerves when I read negative stuff about West Ham fans and the club in the press. You always read and hear the stereo types that our fans are trouble makers, racists and are rude. Whenever there is a slight altercation involving a West Ham fan at a match it seems to make the headlines, yet when other fans do it, there appears to be no mention.

Most recently there was a report of some altercation at the recent Carabao Cup game between West Ham and Arsenal. Again, it appeared to be blown all out of proportion.

Yes, we’ve had issues in the past, but they are no where near as bad now, and nowhere any worse than any other club. Just last year, a group of my friends from the Punjabi Wolves received racial abuse at a Leeds game which was this not reported in the press. I was totally gob smacked at the fact, if it had happened at a West Ham game, it would have been reported. You never hear that sort of racist stuff at West Ham games nowadays and there is a reason why you don’t. It hasn’t just happened over night either. You may not be aware, but West Ham United and its fans are pioneers of kicking out racism out of West Ham.

Back in 1996 West Ham United and their fans, were actively trying to kick the racists and fascists out of the club. While other clubs were talking about it, West Ham and their fans were actually doing it. The above card details, a partnership formed by West Ham United football club, it’s fans and “Newham Monitoring Project – NMP” (a local East London anti-racism organisation). Fans of all colours at West Ham were uniting and handing these cards out. They didn’t want the racists at the club and there were several reasons for this.

  • Most fans had friends from lots of backgrounds, and did not want their Black/Asian friends/fans being abused.
  • Fans and the club wanted the fan base to grow, and wanted the local kids (Black/Asian) to support their local team and not Man United and Liverpool (like many of them did)
  • Fans saw their own black players being abused by opposing fans and did not like that.

There were many other reasons too, but the bottom line was the Club and the majority of the fans saw racism as unacceptable.  It must be said that NMP provided the catalyst for all this to happen. Pioneers, there like Asad, Gilly and Piara led the way. This anti-racism movement at West Ham was in full flight, long before mainstream media jumped on the bandwagon. Even some notorious ex-hooligans started handing out cards saying “we don’t want to be like Millwall”.

It wasn’t plain sailing. I remember one of my mates Gilly saying “he had nearly been attacked for handing out a card”, but on the whole, it was well received. You could say West Ham United and the fans took proactive action, when other clubs just talked about it. Kick it Out had been running since 1993, but to my mind had not really made the headway it wanted to. West Ham United and its fans just quietly got on with it, in the “West Ham Way” of doing things. They made a difference to fans like me. Today thanks to them, I feel totally accepted. I’ve never had any issues with any fans when I go to games. There will always be the exception and “a village idiot” at a game, but “idiots” like that usually get grief off everyone.

Today we have a West Ham Family to be proud of. A diverse family made up of brothers and sisters of all walks of life, colour, orientation, age, sex etc, and we all accept each other.

So, when you read some crappy two-bit journalist call out West Ham fans as being hooligans and thugs, tell them the above history. Tell them, we had one of the first black players in Clyde Best. Tell them we were pioneers in kicking out racism, when other clubs just talked about it. Tell them we come from a diverse area, and our cockney spirit embraces everyone. Tell them, we may use the occasional colourful metaphor, but when it come to equality and diversity in football, it was West Ham United and its fans that led the way.

Be loud!
Be proud!

Know your club history

COME ON YOU IRONS!

By

Vic Singh @vicsinghb

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