Rob Fielding says fans should be applauding not criticising the clubs attempts to promote diversity at Vale Park.
Rob Fielding writes…
It is concerning that some fans see Port Vale’s efforts to promote diversity as either “preaching” or “overbearing.”
Let’s not beat about the bush, the club has a problem. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this report here which shows that Port Vale has one of the worst records for racist chants in the country. Recently, Malcolm Hirst’s article on this website explained that Vale could face serious punishment if they re-offend. His article prompted some criticism but in my view the club is not going to solve that problem by pretending it isn’t happening and hoping it goes away. It’s therefore only right and proper that Vale should push the diversity agenda.
There’s been a lot of reasons to criticise the club in recent years. Perhaps some fans have become so used to complaining, that they fail to recognise when some genuinely good news or initiative comes out of the club. Just have a read of this BBC article showing the work the club is engaged in. It’s hugely encouraging and I would congratulate to all those involved!
Despite the monumental strides taken by the club, some fans have reacted to the diversity theme with the response – “I am not an offender, so I don’t need to know.” In my view, there’s a simple response to these fans which is – don’t read the article then. No-one’s holding a gun to your head forcing you to do so. I take a different view in that I respect diversity but it still gives me pride in my club to see the Valiants continue to push the message.
In my view, just because the vast majority of fans are behaving acceptably and don’t need to be told how to do so is no reason for the club not to continue to try and educate those who do bring the club’s name into disrepute. Just because the vast majority of supporters respect diversity doesn’t mean the club shouldn’t promote the measures they are taking. Just because the vast majority of Valiants have common decency shouldn’t mean the club should be aiming to convert those who don’t.
Arguably in recent years the club has struggled to come up with a sense of identity, something for fans and club staff to unite about. In recent years there was a brief period under Paul Wildes where the idea of respecting history and embedding the club in the community was embraced and those are both noble goals which could be re-adopted.
However, would it not be even better if Port Vale developed into a community club which respected its history AND had a national reputation for respecting diversity?
In my view, that would be a fine achievement and give our football club an identity and progressive agenda to be truly proud of.