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Bryan Robson with Viv Anderson

Robson and Anderson attend anti-racism event

Former Manchester United team-mates Bryan Robson and Viv Anderson attended an event in Manchester this week in support of Show Racism the Red Card.

The UK’s anti-racism educational charity was formed 22 years ago by Ged Grebby and its annual Wear Red Day aims to increase awareness about racial equality in sport and society.

Robson and Anderson were in attendance at the Midland Hotel to help promote the day, which takes place in England and Wales on 19 October and in Scotland on 5 October.

“We're hoping that everyone will join in as much as they can,” Robson said. “It's a worthy cause and there's no room for racism within sport or within the country, so we're supporting that today.”

“It's really important and that's why we are here today,” Anderson added. “I’ve given my time to come here and champion Ged’s cause because that’s going to benefit everybody connected with football.”

Bryan Robson and Viv Anderson
Bryan Robson and Viv Anderson were team-mates at United between 1987 and 1991.

Grebby spoke to MUTV about how footballers past and present can help raise awareness in young people about stopping racism in sport and in everyday life.

“It’s got even bigger and during the World Cup we had fantastic support from a whole range of top, world-class footballers,” Grebby said. 

“To have Gareth Southgate and the England squad involved in the campaign was amazing, so current players as well as ex-players are really important to get the anti-racism message across in society.

”I think there has been a big change in attitudes of young people and adults in fighting racism,“ Grebby added. ”But there is still a big job to do. We’ve got a lot more work to do.

“Racism is on the rise around Islamophobia and anti-immigration, so we need to look at those two areas and work to combat racism.”

Robson was at West Bromwich Albion at the same time as Cyrille Regis, Brendon Batson and Laurie Cunningham, who went on to be known as 'The Three Degrees'. The former United captain saw first hand the abuse they were subjected to during a time when racism in football was commonplace.

“I grew up with Cyrille, Laurie and Brendon at West Brom and I could see how bad racism was in those days, in the late 70s. I think it’s improved dramatically over the years and long may that continue,” he said.

“Some of the letters that the boys used to get were outrageous,” Robson added. “People on the terraces had banana skins and the lads had to go through a lot.

”But they were the ones that started kicking racism out of football and they did a fantastic job as ambassadors for black players.

Viv Anderson walks out for England.
Anderson became the first black player to represent England in a full international, in November 1978.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Anderson making his debut for England. The former United defender was called up to the national team by Ron Greenwood in November 1978 and it was a historic occasion as he became the first black player to represent the Three Lions on the international stage. It is a moment the 62-year-old remains proud of.

“Clearly, it was a big thing, as everyone keeps reminding me,” Anderson said. “I've been doing nothing but interviews over the last couple of weeks!

”Yes, it was a great achievement and I'm very proud to be the first. To be the first in anything is something to be proud of, so I'm very honoured and proud to be a part of that.

Bryan Robson with Viv Anderson at Middlesbrough.
Robson and Anderson formed a management duo at Middlesbrough in the late 1990s.

After their playing careers ended, Robson and Anderson became manager and assistant manager at Middlesbrough in the 1990s and remain close friends now, admitting the event was a good opportunity to catch up.

“It’s always good to catch up with your ex-team-mates,” Robson said. “We worked together at Middlesbrough and he’s a good lad. He hasn’t changed at all; he’s not quietened down or anything and it’s always great to catch up.”

“We’ve not stopped chatting since we got here,” Anderson added. “It’s good to catch up with old friends and Bryan is a good mate of mine.”

Show Racism the Red Card event
Wear Red Day will take place on 19 October in support of Show Racism the Red Card.

Alongside Robson and Anderson at the event in Manchester was the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, Gordon Taylor. The former footballer has worked with Show Racism the Red Card and the Kick It Out campaign over the years.

“Gordon is here and he’s done a speech and I think it’s important that he says to his members that racism is not acceptable in this day and age, in 2018,” Anderson said.

“It’s really important that we all stick together, and we get on and enjoy the beautiful game that we all love.”

Wear Red Day takes place on 19 October in England and Wales. You can find out more information at theredcard.org.