Precious little evidence to support racism claim by visiting goalie at Wisbech FA Vase clash

PUBLISHED: 11:19 10 January 2018

The Bromsgrove Sporting bench is covered in smoke from a flare. Picture: Ian Carter

The Bromsgrove Sporting bench is covered in smoke from a flare. Picture: Ian Carter

Garry Samuels

Not a single witness has come forward to support an allegation made by visiting goalkeeper Reece Francis that he was racially abused during Saturday’s FA Vase match at Wisbech Town.

Early reporting of the game against Bromsgrove Sporting (that Wisbech lost 3-1) focused on claims by Francis of him being taunted by offensive and racially abusive comments.

The language he alleged was used shocked and surprised Wisbech officials.

Chairman Paul Brenchley questioned the validity of the claim.

“Everybody I spoke to said there were no racial comments,” he said.

“The ref called me in at half-time. He hadn’t heard it and he can’t do anything unless he heard it.

“The fourth official said he didn’t hear it so we have to wait and see. Racism is the last thing we want here.”

And additional claims by Francis of coins being thrown were also questioned by the chairman. None were found.

On Sunday, Francis posted on Twitter: “Yesterday was emotional for me, not just the racist abuse I had for most of the game!

“Words I don’t even want to say again but to the Wisbech manager, staff and officials I thank you for the help and the kind words.”

Responding to numerous claims that supporters had called him fat and nothing else, Francis protested that “so according to their fans I’m a liar and played the race card after being brought to tears on the pitch just before half time because of what was said.”

“I’m honestly gutted and feel lost now.”

Wisbech club announcer John Keith said he put out a message over the tannoy to remind all fans of the club’s stance against racism.

“However I have been told by several people who were stood behind the offended goalie that the usual goalie-baiting of “you fat b******” was made (as it was at both ends of the pitch.

“Whether this was misheard as ‘black’ rather than ‘fat’, I cannot say, but it does seem possible / logical.

He added: “I know that the goalie making monkey impressions could be seen as a way of adding weight to a false claim.”

Sporting chairman Mike Burke told his fans afterwards that he was angry that his club’s fans had let off smoke bombs and promised to “ban them for life” if caught.

One Wisbech fan posted that goal keeper Francis was “out of order when he walked to the centre of the pitch rubbing his knuckles on the ground and doing monkey moves with his arms”.

Another wrote: “No way were there any racist chants aimed at any Bromsgrove players. OK the keeper may have been chided over his bodily measurements....but that was definitely as far as it went.”

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