A Burning Black Star..& Conkering Racism

A Burning Black Star..Word Up & Conkering Racism – for Kick It Out

Hi there… 3 new poems here…right now we are specifically looking for poems about kicking racism out of football.. so please… keep them coming… thanks- Crispin Dans Le Corner

A Burning Black Star – Arthur Wharton (1865-1930)

now Arthur Wharton “goalie” may not mean much
it’s such a very long long time ago
and you would never guess this at the mention of his name
the bravery audacity the struggle and the pain
to be the first black player who ever graced the game
but nowadays I wonder how few know?

the sixties weren’t so swinging when he came into this world
the Ivory Coast in eighteen sixty-five
when words like white supremacy
cut deeper than the eye could see
from India and Lipton’s tea to trying to stay alive –

when boardrooms rang with history and power
and being black could set you on a limb
and even if you ran as fast as some new ‘ancient’ train
or dared to dream of gracing the so-called People’s Game
well everything was different if your colour weren’t the same
i wonder what it felt like to be him?

for way up North in collieries and pit-shafts
where children worked the mines to stay alive
when slavery and servants were still common as the clay
those pompously Victorians with deeply classist ways
you barely want to think about the mood on any day
the things that people did to just survive –

but he defied the cynics and the critics
when he became the first man in the world
to run a hundred yards that day
at Stamford Bridge where still they play
ten seconds and he cast a ray
a flag of hope unfurled –

then think upon the simple act of playing
for Darlington – within a white man’s game
a scapegoat for a nation
all alone above his station
away outside of anything – beyond imagination
to be out there though black and without shame –

but stood between the goalposts was he proud to be a part
did they shower him with insults or with praise?
and most may not have noticed when they read out his name
to those behind the nets perhaps he even looked the same
with two strong arms but in his heart he surely felt the strain
and glad for no bananas in those days!

was he taunted like some monkey or an outcast
was her treated as a team-mate or a friend?
was he upright and undaunted by the colour of his skin
if he let the ball fly past him did the insults soon begin?
we have no way of knowing with the evidence so thin
forgotten and forsaken in the end –

and look at us the game and gaze around you
am i alone in how i feel today
will we be strong when words are thrown
stay silent while they yell and groan
if there’s one thing i’ve always known
we’re human and we’re one in every way –

while in an unmarked grave now gladly noted
near Doncaster there lies a pioneer
who took more risks than those today
a legend in his silent way
and we must emulate and pray
an end to hate draws near

© CT02 Oct 20 2002

Arthur Wharton, the world’s first black professional footballer, was born in the Gold Coast (now called Ghana) in 1865. Twenty one years later he became the first man in the world to run the 100 yards in 10 seconds at a national championship at Stamford Bridge.This has been accepted as the first world record in the event. In 1884 he made his debut in first class football for Darlington, moving on to Preston North End, Rotherham, Sheffield United, Stalybridge Rovers, Ashton North End and Stockport County. He died in 1930 a forgotten and penniless coal miner. His grave in Edlington, near Doncaster, lay unmarked until 1997 when Football Unites – Racism Divides raised more than £1000 to erect a headstone.


Word-Up (Kick-It-Out Rap)

there has to be a space – there has to be a place
for ev’ry single member of the whole human race
but it starts in the playground – it starts as just a lark
it end up on the journey home-it ends up in the park
it ends up on the playing field -in the rain and thunder
sometimes you hear it-but you’re totally outnumbered
word up – be a beacon be a light
speak out – let your football burn bright
word up -rap the culprits in the eye
kick it out – time for racism to die
word up –

you can sing it you can wing it – you can act it out in class
you can trap it you can rap it – before the feelin’s pass
speak out – put it down upon the page
no doubt – life’s a stage..and this rage ..
we can erase it – -if we face it
word up -rap the culprits in the eye
kick it out – time for racism to die
word up –

you know-no-one has the right to abuse any other
no one has the right- be they stranger or brother
no one has the right to bully or to yell
but no one should be frightened to be the one to tell
but twenty years ago – and if your face was black
if you stood out on the footie-pitch – they’d be on your back
but take a look around you – from Africa today
great players everywhere- we love to see them play
and this world is changing – ya feel it coming through
and maybe lifes’s a lottery but football dreams come true
and who knows this time an Asian tomorrow
when one come through i said the rest will follow
word up -rap the culprits in the eye
kick it out – time for racism to die
word up

© crispin t – june 02

originally written and performed for the Kick It Out/Word Up Football Poetry event in Bradford during the World Cup this summer gone…now re-earthed for Black History Month and an exciting project which Stuart Butler has wonderfully instigated involving football poetry in schools on the same theme..with thanks to Piara and Zacia at Kick It Out www.kickitout.org who work diligently towards kicking racism out of football…and by the way the Asian angle is to highlight the current lack of any Asian players in any of the professional flights….albeit three up-coming youngsters are highlighted on the kick it out site..check it out..one a budding female and one who has already played at u-16 level for England!

Oct 15 2002
On Conkering Racism In The Playgeround!

it’s not just football friends oh no
that suffers in this style
they’ve banned the sport we loved to play
is racism to blame I say
how can our schools just take away
our conkers?

and banish now like leaves from trees
on Autumn’s concrete floor
the right to glorious chestnut times
more dangerous than mountain climbs
i had to put it into rhyme
it’s bonkers

more violent they now proclaim
than derbies or the like
now ended after endless years
like six-ers that we lost in tears
our youthful dreams we lost our fears
in rompers*

no longer in the schoolyards
these conquered implements
now driven from the cycle shed
they turn a deeper shade of red
is liberty and freedom dead
i really think its bonkers

gone with the summer gone for good
gone with our childhood days
no drying them – no soaking well
no trying to hide the vinegar smell
no heating them no one to tell
but conkers

they’ve taken it away now
the danger risk and more
of string in eyes or stinging thighs
of locker-rooms comparing size
of boy-ish-girlish fiendish cries
when smashed ones go astray
in Yonkers***

and only rebels will persist
as rebels always will
without permission from their mums **
or letter-writing forging chums
like people who tattoo their thumbs
they’re bonkers

this game of conkers we all love
now banned in every town
you ask me of me and I reply
that underneath I wonder why
and just like Ali G I cry


© crispin t – sept 02

since writiIng this..i felt compelled to reply ot William Shakespeare’s guest book repost-entry…is he stil living in the Middle Ages..yes sadly methinks!

Dear Willie Le Shake(Pah!),Clik (bien- venue) and All Football Poets..

O yes that ol’ chestnut you might say…but……….
as football poets and in Stu’s case teacher …in a month where kicking racism from football and all sport is prominent..we are contacting you with regard to the recent banning of ‘playing conkers’ from the play-ground.We are also horrified by the introduction NATIONALLY of “written permission from parents or guardians being required.. to play conkers at school “..
We have to ask…what are your feelings? Is this racism gone mad? What next?.Is football with a tennis ball ok in playgrounds.. because the ball is now white and no longer brown?.Can anyone re-assure our dedicated society that our world is still a safe place to play in .A place to join together (with a gentle vibe of course) and beat the living daylights out of our classmate’s chestnut, with love…..it’s an outlet surely?
sincerely – Crispin Le Conkerere

Oct 11 02

Source: http://footballpoets.org/news/2002/10/11/a-burning-black-star-conkering-racism/