Mark Hateley on NF gauntlet of hate for black team-mates

Mark Hateley has revealed how his experience of a National Front element within the England support inspired his passionate involvement in anti-racism campaigning in football.

England's Mark Hateley, right, in action against Roy Aitken of Scotland at Hampden in 1987. Picture: Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock
England's Mark Hateley, right, in action against Roy Aitken of Scotland at Hampden in 1987. Picture: Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock

The former Rangers striker was recently inducted into the Show Racism The Red Card (SRTRC) Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Westminster, recognition of the 15 years he has spent as an active ambassador for the organisation.

Hateley was at Ibrox earlier this week for the latest in a series of SRTRC educational workshops staged by his old club. It was while on international duty back in 1984, when he famously scored for England in a 2-0 win over Brazil at the Maracana Stadium, that he encountered racism in football at first hand.

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“Members of the National Front were actually on the team plane which travelled to South America for that tour,” said Hateley. “They were up the back, among the supporters. They were like a guard of honour when we walked on to the plane, clapping all the white players through.

“Then you had guys like Viv Anderson – the first black player to play for England – John Barnes and Mark Chamberlain getting absolute dog’s abuse from them. I just felt really angry about it. You just shake your head, because they are morons, uneducated morons as far as I am concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in that post-war period, where grandparents and parents could be uneducated but you get through that. It is about education, and when you have been involved in this for 15 years, you strive to give out that message.

“As social media is now, football is global, clubs like Rangers go all over the world. To different parts of the country, different parts of the world. To different creeds, different colours, different religions. We go out there and that is what we are here to promote.

“I have been working within Show Racism The Red Card for about 15 years, this has been one of the mainstays for as long as I can remember, when it comes to working against racism in football and using football as a vehicle to promote it. I was completely taken aback by the induction into the Hall of Fame at Westminster. We were invited down there because of what we were doing in football. It was a great of honour.

“It means as much as any honour I got playing football. I like to think that you can be as successful off the field as you are on the field, depending on what you want from life. I have got kids, I have got grand-kids, my kids are all tolerant, accept everything that goes on around them, and I want my grandkids to be even safer. That is why I do it.”

The issue has been given a higher profile in recent weeks following the racist abuse directed towards Celtic winger Scott Sinclair in the Old Firm match at Ibrox on 29 April.

“I was angry again that day,” added Hateley. “The guy got caught and it was a season ticket holder passing on his ticket. To a certain extent he is to blame for doing that, but that is what it is all about. These people have children around them. The community which surrounds Rangers is so diverse, and without that community we don’t have a football club.

“We want everybody to be welcome and we need to show that confidence that we can put on a game where everyone is harmonious and comfortable in their surroundings. It is the minority again that have spoiled it. This club, Aberdeen and Celtic, all clubs have minorities but it is them who have to be stamped on. Social media is brilliant to embarrass people and help the police get to the bottom of the virus which is racism.”