October marks Black History Month, a time where we get to celebrate and recognise the black heroes across the County involved in all levels of the game.
We are proud to use the power of football to help tell the stories of iconic black figures in Lincolnshire, and shine a light on their stories like never before. The next inspirational figure within Lincolnshire's footballing community that we've spoken to is Gainsborough Sunday League's Fixture & Referee Appointment Secretary, Clive Fisher.
Clive has been involved in grassroots football for an outstanding 45 years, having played for the highly successful Friendship FC before going on to become their Manager and Club Secretary. He's played across the county for the club, having featured in the Lincoln Sunday League, as well as the Gainsborough, Lincoln, and Scunthorpe Saturday Leagues.
Clive is a child of the Windrush generation. The ‘Windrush’ generation are those who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1973. Many took up jobs in the nascent NHS and other sectors affected by Britain’s post-war labour shortage. The name ‘Windrush’ derives from the ‘HMT Empire Windrush’ ship which brought one of the first large groups of Caribbean people to the UK in 1948.
Clive has faced his fair share of difficulties, both in society and in football, during his many years of being involved - being a victim of severe racist abuse. Clive has spoken to us with outstanding honesty about his experiences and what Black History Month means to him.
In your eyes, how important is Black History Month in both society and football?
When Black History Month was first introduced, it finally gave a portal for the 3rd generation Windrush people. Everyone got a chance to see what we all had been through. My own son's had been told stories by my mother and aunts so now they understand a lot more. Now, the leagues have significantly more black and Asian players than they had back in the 70's. As the black players were so few and far between, it was great to see a black player when I got the chance.
Role models are so important for inspiring the next generation, so can you tell us who yours were/are?
My love of football started in 1966, watching the World Cup. It was not until I watched one of the greats in Pele, he was a icon. In the 70's, my love grew and when Viv Anderson played for England, it was a great night for all the black communities all over the country - even the older people talked about it! As the 70's moved on, the black players began to be noticed, i.e. Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson, Cyrille Regis, Tony Ford at Grimsby and Ces Podd at Bradford. These people are real heroes.
Racism is still a problem, certainly in elite level men's football. We also see it on social media with Wes Foderingham and Destiny Udogie being the latest high-profile targets. Have you faced any challenges in your time in football? And what more needs to be done to deal with racism in football at all levels?
Racism was such a problem, our parents refused to let us go to matches. The abuse could be heard on the TV broadcasts. When I started playing the game, the names that I was called for making just a simple challenge or tackle were beyond disgusting, which made me feel like I had to stand up for myself - to which I served quite a few suspensions. The 90's didn't really change, as racist abuse was the norm. As I became a Manager and Club Secretary, I noticed how much abuse was around this county and nothing was done about it at the time. It felt like I didn't have a voice. I once met Keith Alexander at a Lincoln Sunday League match. He said to me "I know who you are, there are not many of us about". We had a very interesting chat at that match and said we must keep going no matter what. How was I to know that one of the darkest days was yet to come. When the 3 black players missed the penalties in the Euros Final, I was on the phone to my family in London and Birmingham, stating "now the abuse will start" and how it did. This type of abuse was so disgusting, it brought the older generation to say "we have gone back to the old days".
You’ve been involved in grassroots football for over 45 years, having been a player, manager, and secretary of Friendship FC. How have things changed over the years, from when you started to where you are now?
I have been involved in the great game for over 45 years and the inclusion of black and Asian people is still far too few in my opinion. It's not a case of every club must have someone who's black, of course it must be done on their ability, but we need to show this game is for everyone and make it an appealing prospect for everyone. I was at my old club, Friendship FC's, County Cup match 2 years ago when I had to chastise a member of our club for bringing the colour of the referees skin into a decision that he made. I went home in disgust.
Only when any form of abuse is dealt with the severest punishment available are we going to improve. I want to be able to take my grandchildren to any ground or pitch in this country and they come away talking about the football, not what they have heard. My time in football is coming to a end shortly, but I want it to be said that I have made a difference with people like Viv Anderson, Cyrille Regis, and locally Phillip Robinson.
For more information on Black History Month, click here
For more information about Volunteering in Grassroots Football, click here
For more information on reporting discrimination, click here
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