It should have been an evening to savour: seeing Newcastle United’s record-breaking new number 9 Joelinton score on his full debut away at Hibernian.

Instead the match across the border was marred by a section of our away support singing offensive songs including ditties glorifying racist and convicted criminal Tommy Robinson, revelling in homophobic and sexist chants, and baiting the home support with needless sectarian tunes sung by fans that weren’t even spermatozoa when the Good Friday Agreement was signed. Truly an embarrassment.

Perhaps I’m sensitive to things like this: my father grew up in Apartheid South Africa, where attitudes to race defined a society and now leave a long shadow. I myself was partially-raised in Australia, a nation with its own history of oppression of its indigenous population. And just yards from my front door is the spot where Stephen Lawrence was brutally murdered by racist thugs in 1993.

But if I’m sensitive to this, then I’m sure others in the ground were too: Hibernian goalkeeper Ofir Marciano – a Jewish Israeli – probably wouldn’t have appreciated far right taunts. Similarly Newcastle United’s black players including captain Jamaal Lascelles and Rolando Aarons. And those sectarian chants (ostensibly ‘banter’) won’t have given Irish international Ciaran Clark, linked with a move away, pause to stay.

That’s to say nothing of fellow fans, including parents taking young children to the match – possibly the first of a lifetime’s support – only to be confronted with racism, homophobia and sexism. Are they going to return after being made to feel so unwelcome? Unlikely.

They might have been emboldened by the downward trajectory of wider society, but the bottom feeder morons indulging in such bigoted idiocy don’t speak for me or the vast majority of Newcastle United fans. Unfortunately, incidents like this shame all of us and the game we love.

There is no place in football – or indeed wider society – for prejudice and for the sport’s very future, it’s imperative that we drive it out. In a time of walls, we really should be building bridges.

Chris Shipman
@chrisshipmantf