'We don’t see bananas thrown at players any more but racism hasn’t gone away': Shaka Hislop

Former footballer Shaka Hislop says he was "shocked" by racist comments sent to Marcus Rashford after never experiencing "a word of racist abuse" at a North West club.

The former Newcastle United goalkeeper says he "loved" visiting the region as a player - with Anfield his favourite away ground.

But the founder of the UK's biggest anti-racism education charity, Show Racism the Red Card, says there is still a long way to go to rule out abuse for good.

It comes as the charity, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, opens its first North West office, in Manchester.

To celebrate the achievement the football wrote a blog for Granada Reports.

It was December 1995. I was playing for Newcastle. At that time, we were the best team in England. Manchester United fans might argue with that, but we felt invincible. Life was good.

Then one night as I was filling my car up with petrol near to St James’ Park, a group of youths started to shout racist abuse at me.

It was pretty vile stuff. Sadly a lot of black players will know what I’m talking about.

But then something changed. They recognised me. They started to chant my name and ask for autographs.

From 50 yards I was a black man to be ridiculed. From 50 feet I was treated like a hero.

That night I started thinking about the duality of my life. I realised the special privilege being a footballer gave me. Within two months we’d set up Show Racism The Red Card and I’d done my first school visit, alongside my teammate John Beresford.

That was 25 years ago. It makes me feel old! Old, but proud of what I helped start.

Shaka Hislop playing for Newcastle in 1997. Credit: PA

Since then, more than 800,000 young people have been through one of our anti-racism education programmes.

2020 was a year most people would like to forget. The Covid-19 pandemic has made life difficult for everyone. But it was also a pivotal year for the anti-racism movement. The death of George Floyd changed everything. A black man killed by a white police officer. All eight minutes caught on camera. The eyes of the world saw that happen. The reaction has been. Incredible. People of all colours, religions, genders are standing up and demanding a more equal world.

A world where the life of a black man has the same value as a white man.

It’s given new momentum to Show Racism The Red Card too. We launched in South Africa last week, this week we open our first office in the North West of England.

I loved coming here as a player. Old Trafford, Maine Road and Goodison Park were fabulous footballing venues. And Anfield was probably my favourite away ground to visit. One thing they all had in common. I never had a word of racist abuse at any of the stadiums in this region.

That made me all the more shocked to read about the abuse suffered by Marcus Rashford, Antony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe last week.

We don’t see bananas thrown at players any more but racism hasn’t gone away. It has a new face, which is why I’m so happy that we’re opening the office in Manchester.

We already have a great relationship with the clubs here, now we can put more time and resources into schools here. No child is born a racist. It’s learned. But by speaking and working with young people we can change that and hopefully one day, show racism the red card for good.


  • Since its beginning the charity has delivered anti-racism education programmes to 824,000 young people.

  • Its aim is to take that number beyond one million in 2021.

  • They have offices in London, the North East, Scotland and Wales, and also launched in South Africa at the end of January.