And so it continues…

Date: 14th January 2023

(Photo: HomesofFootball)

This week’s first blog brought to you by our resident writer Donald Stewart.

And so it continues…

Change can be hard for people. But the one thing I find amongst a lot of people is that they talk of change, but their actions do not always back up their words.

And here we have a chance to show that genuine change has happened.

Why?

Because an openly gay player has joined an SPFL team.

No biggie?

I mean we have had one before, Justin Fashanu. The man in question, who has joined Bonnyrigg Rose, was already known to us all. He had come out long enough ago that it made news again.

And so here is the challenge.

The SFA has policies. They will welcome any diversity within the game because it strengthens their political kudos. All sorted there then.

Boards of Directors shall all try to conform, and we may have a wee issue in some of the boardrooms around the country. Now, we have come some way from the local second hand car dealer having a seat on the board and with cigar in one hand, a spirit in the other prop up the local bar and pontificate in his sheepskin jacket about why people should only play for the club from the community etc., etc. But there are vestiges still of those and such as those still struggling to accept that men who love men have a place in the shower room.

Club managers will, no doubt, have little issue as they are all diversity trained and they tend to be pretty clued up. There are still a few “old school” eejits who might make a snide remark, but to be fair to them their eye is almost always on 3 points and formations than the politics of it all.

Then there are the players. The second largest group. They need support more often than condemnation. Entrenched views shall show a robustness in silence and whispered comments more than shouted aggression. It’s the SPFL League Two. There shall not always be cameras watching and I don’t think VAR has even managed to absorb the Equality Act yet. There shall be people who will get away with it. But if our fellow openly gay player has not heard it all so far, it is likely he has been deaf for most of his time on a pitch.

There are the pundits, who will watch their language. Too many of them have seen others careers rightly falter at the phrase that offends or the opinions that are more cave man than appropriate. It is very unlikely that anything shall worry us there.

But then the supporters.

The largest group who has wit in abundance, and eejits in their midst.

I recently read Timmy Hutchison’s biography that recalls a time when he visited Ibrox in a friendly and their black player was pelted with bananas. This is, of course, something that former Rangers star player, Mark Walters, also experienced. Homophobia is a hate crime. It is so, because in a civilised society, hate should be outlawed. There shall be some, who will continue to use differences as something to suggest is an advantage and is “reasonable banter”.

It is not.

That the inclusion of the first openly gay player in the SPFL since Fashanu was worthy of national news coverage brings joy, fear and sadness in equal measure. Glad that we have finally joined the 21st century – albeit in a limited manner, fear that they shall bear the brunt and be the “poster boy” for diversity and pilloried for being human if he ever transgresses his status, and sad, because it is so unusual it merits such prominence. Sad because this guy’s goalscoring prowess – which is substantial is not the headline. Sad because his footballing ability is secondary to his sexuality.

But I get it – the media need to show diversity so that those groups ill served by it in the past, get decent representation.

So, who is it? Does it matter? Just watch this guy help Bonnyrigg Rose rise or fall by his efforts, the rest, though important, is his contribution to dragging the rest of football into the 21st century along with him.


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