I was only 10 years old the season Mark Walters signed for Rangers back in 1987 but I do remember the time banana’s were thrown on the pitch at Celtic Park at the former Rangers winger.
At the time, I didn’t quite understand why it was done but I do remember why it was if that makes sense?
What I mean is I knew they were thrown at him as a reference to him being black but I could not quite grasp why people thought it was ok to do so.
However, even at that time, it did prove that racism was alive and well in Scotland.
It always was, and still is, to be honest but it was disguised under the cloak of sectarianism as it did seem more comfortable to most people, especially in the media, to dress it up this way as it meant we didn’t have to face our own societal issues at that time.
The media went to great lengths to avoid talking about the issue of anti catholic singing to such an extent that they never showed this footage of Rangers players singing The Billy Boys and f*ck the Pope after a title winning league match in a dressing room “celebration” as shown in the video below,
And from memory, that is how the treatment of Mark Walters was dealt with by the same media. I don’t ever remember the same outcry as there would be now. I don’t remember front page headlines condemning the abuse Walters received. Although if I am wrong, I am sure many will correct, and please do.
Thankfully, most of Scottish society has moved on from those dark days and are more open to racist condemnation, especially as it has raised it’s ugly head on more than one occasion in the last twelve months.
Mark Walters opened up today to relive his experiences in England and Scotland but did speak about the abuse he was on the end of at Celtic Park and Tynecastle in the early days on his Rangers career, “Believe it or not just last month I watched a recording of my debut at Parkhead for the very first time.
“It was only then that I realised why the half-time break seemed to go on forever.
“At the time we were in the dressing room and I was thinking to myself, ‘What’s taking so long?’.
“But when I watched it back I realised it was because they were still clearing up all the bananas and stuff from the pitch.
“They were trying to protect me but it’s unbelievable when you look back at that now.
“Yes, it does hurt. I also watched the game at Hearts for the first time, which was just a week later. I remember someone threw something at me and I flinched because I thought it may hit me.
“But it was only when I watched it a month or so ago that I could see it was a boy of about eight or nine years of age who threw it. You could see a bunch of adults behind him all laughing and joking like, ‘Well done son!’.
“I just assumed at the time it was these adults who were throwing stuff. But to see it was actually a child? I mean, what chance did that young lad have if he was brought up to believe that was normal behaviour?
“That game at Tynecastle actually felt even more intimidating than my debut at Celtic but probably because the crowd was a lot closer to the pitch.
“But the stuff that was thrown at me at Parkhead was even more dangerous. I remember I saw a dart sticking out of the grass and a pig’s foot flying past my head.
“Looking back now I can’t believe I didn’t show the ref. But I just carried on because I was just so focused on my game.”
A shocking but familiar account of Walters’ experiences in Scotland over 30 years ago now.
Racism is not welcome in Scottish society. End of. Lets call it all racism. Not sectarianism or ‘anti’ anything. You can’t be anti black just as much as anti Irish. It’s racism.
Lets address it all under the same banner because then and only then, can all of the footballing community pull together to rid this cancer not only from football but from Scottish society.
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