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Former Wolves defender George Berry recalls hell at hands of racists

Former Wolves player George Berry says education is crucial if the number of black managers and coaches in football is to increase.


Berry was part of the Wolves team that won the League Cup in 1980 and is now a commercial director at the Professional Footballers' Association.

He featured in a BBC documentary, Whites vs Blacks: How Football Changed a Nation.

It focused on an Albion testimonial in 1979 where an all-white team took on a side comprised solely of black players.

Berry, as well as ex-Wolves defender Bob Hazell, both played in the game and during the documentary recounted their experiences of that and the racist abuse they suffered in football.

Berry said football had 'come a long way' since those primitive days, but that more progress was needed.

"I work for the PFA and there is a problem with black managers, black coaches and more importantly the Asian lads as well," he said.

"It's an ongoing educational process. The show highlighted what it was like back in the day but it's 2016 now and it's about where we're at. We've come a long way.

"I'd like to think the good work our trade union is doing with our current and former players, going out into the communities, makes a difference.

"It's about education for me. The more people embrace it and the more that role models go out there and do it and help...that's the big thing. I'd like to see more black managers and coaches."

Berry, who played 160 times for Wolves before moving to Stoke City in 1982, suffered abuse throughout his career.

He believes racism still exists in football.

"It was overt," Berry said of racism during his playing days. "You knew who the racists were because they were in your face.

"Now it's not acceptable but it doesn't stop people thinking it. The reality is that football reflects society and there is racism in society, so therefore why wouldn't there be racism in football?"

The former centre-half also recounted an experience playing away at Millwall when he was spat on.

"If you remember the old Den, you had to walk through the tunnel and all their fans were above it and they had a cage over the top so they couldn't throw things at you," he said. "I knew (it was coming), so half-time, shirt over my head...I had to change my shirt. It was horrific.

"You talk about the different responses from the black lads – everybody dealt with it differently and at some point you have to draw the line in the sand.

"At that point there is no turning back. The problem I found is that when I confronted it, it was a case of, all of sudden, I've got a chip on my shoulder and an attitude problem. It wasn't a case of 'it's wrong'."

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