Opinion: Mark Walters, racism, Fir Park and Firhill

Mark Walters. Picture: Jarle Vines
Mark Walters. Picture: Jarle Vines
Mark Walters. Picture: Jarle Vines
Mark Walters. Picture: Jarle Vines

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

SHARE
Previous articleVisser is the real deal – he scores twice on a remarkable debut
Next articleMy (tangential) role in the 2012 Olympics (sort of)
We welcome contributions from our readers. If you would like to submit a piece please contact our Editor, David Calder at [email protected]
  • fatbadger

    Ah, media commentary on football by those who don’t know football. The Sun once reported on a match between Millwall and Brighton, using one of their social affairs reporters who expected to hear racism from the Millwall fans, but was surprised to hear Brighton fans shouting ‘Sieg Heil’ while engaging in the stiff-armed fascist salute. It took a lot a lot of angry letters before they realised the confusion – not knowing anything about football, the reporter hadn’t realised that Brighton fans might just be singing ‘Seagulls’ while holding their arms aloft. Needless to say, the Sun never apologised. Will the Sunday Sun do so on this occasion?

  • redcliffe62

    An apology is warranted.

  • bellebrise

    More to the point, why is the Sunday Sun dredging up something that happened 20 years ago, even though it didn’t? Mr Anwar is, it seems to me, the Scottish equivalent of the ambulance chaser, always willing to take the case of some terrorist, illegal immigrant or socialist; I understand that the legal aid available is generous in such cases?
    So the article was little more than free advertising for a firm of solicitors?

  • Mip99

    According to the Partick Thistle official website has contacted the club to apologise that he realises were factually incorrect.  Full retraction and apology to appear in his next column.

    • JC

      hi Aamer / Mip99

  • Mip99

    great first post there… anyway Mr. Anwar has contacted the club, he realises his comments regarding the club were factually incorrect etc. etc.

  • Graham Jack

    Partick Thistle plat at Firhill. Its Motherwell that play at Fir Park. Therefore this whole thing is even more false!!

  • trevor

    A similar passage from a 1995 research paper by John Horne……..the original claims are to be found in Stuart Cosgrove’s 2002 book Hampden Babylon.

    So in 1995 John Horne referenced a book published in 2002?!

  • Jack Sparrow

    Just to clarify, Hampden Babylon was first published in 1991. That is what is referenced by Horne in his academic paper. Horne put the wrong team in at “Fir Park”, and this should have been Motherwell and not Partick Thistle. Anwar clearly knows nothing about football, let alone recalling specific instances of racism from the best part of 25 years go.