By Steven Harkins
In yesterday’s Sunday Sun Aamer Anwar said that when Mark Walters played for Rangers he was racially abused by Partick Thistle supporters. My fellow Partick Thistle fans were shocked by this revelation because none of them could remember it happening. I decided to dig a little deeper into the allegations made by one of Scotland’s top human rights lawyers.
Mark Walters played for Rangers between 1987 and 1991, throughout this time Rangers played in the Premier League and Partick Thistle played in the First Division, they were never in the same league. Perhaps the racist abuse described by Anwar took place during a cup tie? The only first team cup fixture between the two clubs took place in August 1991, Rangers defeated the Jags 2-0 in the Skol cup, and more importantly, Mark Walters was not playing. Looking at the archives it appears that Mark Walters has never played for Rangers against Partick Thistle … so where did Anwar get this from?
The likely source of the story is not difficult to trace because Anwar’s copy is so similar to an academic article by John Horne (Racism, Sectarianism and Football in Scotland, Scottish Affairs, no. 12, Summer 1995). The passage in Anwar’s article reads as follows:
It’s not so long ago that a young Mark Walters arriving at Ibrox was subjected to a barrage of racial abuse as fans from Celtic, Hearts and Partick Thistle threw bananas and chanted like monkeys in an attempt to drive him out.
A similar passage from a 1995 research paper by John Horne reads:
Week after week, the young black winger was subjected to a barrage of racial abuse, as prejudice squads at Parkhead [Celtic], Tynecastle [Hearts] and Fir Park [Partick Thistle] threw bananas, chanted like monkeys and banged the jungle drums in a desperate bid to put the player off his stride.
These remarkably similar passages show that Horne’s article is the likely source of Anwar’s claims. Thankfully Horne’s article follows academic conventions and provides a source for these claims. According to Horne, the original claims are to be found in Stuart Cosgrove’s 2002 book Hampden Babylon. Here is the passage from Cosgrove’s book (P 128):
Week after week, the young black winger was subjected to a barrage of racial abuse, as prejudice squads at Parkhead, Tynecastle and Fir Park threw bananas, chanted like monkeys and banged the jungle drums in a desperate bid to put the player off his stride.
Note that the team names in square brackets are missing from Cosgrove’s book. Whoever added them to Horne’s article has made a mistake. For those who are unfamiliar with Scottish football grounds, Motherwell play at Fir Park and Partick Thistle play at Firhill.
The root of this problem appears to be an honest mistake by someone who has mixed up two very similar sounding football grounds. However the two articles by Aamer Anwar and John Horne are both easily accessible online and falsely link Partick Thistle fans with one of the most shameful incidents in Scottish football history. These supporters deserve an apology and corrections should be made to the two offending articles