LOSERS: Jake Hepple (left) with Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon), the former leader of the English Defence League. Photo Facebook
One step forward, then a huge leap backwards. That just about sums up the strides made in the Premier League over the past few weeks fighting racism and inequality.
On the one hand, we have seen the amazing Marcus Rashford of Manchester United go above and beyond by helping millions of children from low-income families keep their free school meals, and at the same time, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling proudly speaking out about footballers spontaneously taking a knee before kick-off.
Brilliant work, and great, albeit small steps, in the right direction.
Then along comes tosspot Jake Hepple. A so-called football fan that supports Burnley FC, a Premier League team in the northwest of England.
Hepple came up with what he thought was the bright idea to hire a small aircraft to fly over Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium moments after the players had taken a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign.
The aeroplane hired by Hepple and his halfwit cronies dragged a banner proclaiming ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’.
I’m not surprised at his ignorance and narrowmindedness, however, I am slightly shocked this buffoon actually managed to spell the words correctly. I’m guessing he used a spell-check.
While the police have determined that no crime took place and Hepple cannot be prosecuted, well done to Burnley FC who immediately after the game condemned the act, and then in the days that followed identified Hepple and those others responsible and banned them from the ground for life.
I hope other clubs can follow suit and not let this dipstick anywhere near a football match when things get back to normal.
Hepple took to Facebook in the days that followed his mindless stunt not only to boast and take responsibility but also to rub a large dollop of salt into the already gaping gash by refusing to apologise.
It’s a shame that downright stupidity isn’t a crime otherwise every court in the land would simply lock him up and throw away the key.
From a personal perspective, I’m sick of writing about racism in football. It seems that no matter what gets done there is always a small group of idiots insistent on spewing that hate-filled bile all over the terraces.
Jurgen Klopp spoke out about it this week suggesting the only way forward is to educate people at an early age. And while I’m not arguing with the Liverpool manager, he does sound a little too much like a broken record.
This week, I was watching some old football clips on YouTube. One was the highlights of a match between Liverpool and Manchester United from the early 1990s.
Apart from the Old Trafford pitch looking like a cow field, one thing in particular stuck in my mind from the game.
Every time, Liverpool’s Mark Walters was in possession, he was loudly booed by the home supporters because he is black.
Yet, when he was chased down, strongly tackled and dispossessed by a Manchester United player, the cheers were deafening. But the United player tracking back was none other than Paul Ince, who is also black.
That was around 30 years ago and while I’d like to say football was different back then, it seems not to have changed much in the modern era, or rather society hasn’t changed.
The world is still full of imbeciles, like Jake Hepple. — VNS