The following is a revised version of an article that appeared in the Cambridge United matchday programme for the game against Leeds United on 9 January 2017.
Before a recent match the Coconuts team were selling copies of Andrew Bennett’s Newmarket Road Roughs and, while they were at it, handing out Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Football stickers and badges. The chat turned to a BBC documentary, broadcast in November 2016, about West Bromwich legend Len Cantello’s 1979 testimonial match, Whites vs Blacks: How Football Changed a Nation.
You couldn’t imagine a game pitting a team of black players against an all-white XI taking place today. But back in 1979 black footballers were still a rarity in England, and the few there were often had to listen to horrifying, lengthy racist broadsides from the terraces. Thank God more enlightened attitudes have prevailed … at least in most places.
What a glorious contribution black players have made to the Cambridge United cause – and it started way back in the 1960s.
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