Viv's UTD Podcast is vital this Black History Month

Monday 18 October 2021 15:17

October is Black History Month around the world and, here at Manchester United, we are proud to support the movement, as we endeavour to eradicate the scourge of racism from our game.

The club actively encourages fans to utilise our SEE RED campaign and the online reporting system, where you can highlight any instances of racist or discriminatory abuse on social media. We will then escalate all complaints received to the relevant authorities, to demand tough and urgent action. 

However, Black History Month is not all about racism: it is also an important time to celebrate the achievements of black people in society, sport, football and, in our case, United history. That is why we are encouraging all of our supporters to enjoy Viv Anderson’s UTD Podcast from season one of the series, which was recorded back in June 2020 but remains a powerful, important listen. 

Sir Alex Ferguson’s first signing at Old Trafford talked us through his legendary career and there are some incredible tales, including many from his time under Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest. 

Naturally, Anderson also spoke passionately about making history when he became England’s first black player on Wednesday 29 November 1978, against Czechoslovakia at Wembley Stadium. 
UTD Podcast: ‘It was big news at the time’ Video

UTD Podcast: ‘It was big news at the time’

Former Reds defender Viv Anderson remembers becoming the first black player to represent England, in 1978…

“I remember myself and Laurie Cunningham, who is the first black Under-21 international and I was the first full international,” says Viv. “Sadly, Laurie is not with us. Listen, it was always in the papers, a debate about whether it was going to be Laurie or whether it was going to be me. 

“We were room-mates from time to time and we never discussed. What happens, happens, it is one of those things and I was just fortunate it happened to be me. Was it big news at the time? Yeah it was. The media went to my old school, my mum and dad were interviewed. It was big at the time.” 
Anderson went on to make 30 England appearances and, along with Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and later, John Barnes, he helped pave the way for black players to thrive in English football. Racism was a big issue at grounds up and down the country throughout the 1980s – sadly, it still is - and Anderson believes it was much worse for forwards than for himself.

“You would speak to Laurie and Cyrille Regis, it was completely different for them than me,” says Viv. “My job was to kick people and theirs was flair, to score goals and look flamboyant. I'd speak to them and they got a lot of abuse, but for some reason I never used to. I never liked wearing long-sleeved shirts or gloves. I would wear short-sleeved shirts and my job was to kick the winger, and if he didn't like it then he'd do it on the other side and the other full-back would kick him back to me. 

“If I could go forward and try to score goals, or make them, that was a bonus, but the manager would say to me, 'your job is to keep the ball out of my net and anything you do after that is a complete bonus, so you concentrate on kicking him, getting the ball forward and giving it to somebody who can play'. So in my time with England, every time I played I never got booed from our supporters but Laurie and Cyril did get that, I think solely because of the position I played in.”
'Squaring up to Whiteside got me my United move' Video

'Squaring up to Whiteside got me my United move'

Viv Anderson explains that a confrontation with a Reds hard man helped him sign for United in 1987...

While discussing racism in the modern game and how it can be removed, Anderson was clear in his assessment and felt that education is the key. “I think the deterrent is weak,” he told us. “They talk about taking the [England] team off and the three-stage rule, but if fines of £5million are imposed, they’ll make sure those people don’t get in the stadiums again. 

“Is it getting worse? I think it’s not getting any better. The fines and the punishments have to be more severe, so they get noticed. It’s about education. It’s very difficult to install something in a 50-year-old because they’re set in their ways. It’s the younger generation [we have to educate]. 

“I’ve said to the FA: ‘You have Paul Ince, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, myself, Rio Ferdinand, Emile Heskey - numerous players who have played at the top level and have stories to tell’. They’re not involved in football and they are sitting there with experiences to share, but nobody is doing anything about it. That’s my issue with the FA, they talk about doing it but they don’t do it.”

Listen to the full UTD Podcast with Viv Anderson in the Manchester United App.