(Lifted without shame from Observer 9 July 95, Sports Tabloid pp 12-13)
Coming Up - Henderson Speaks (Emma Lindsey corners Secretive Scribe)
- Letters & Calls Run 9-1 condemning Henderson.
- "I've been up there like a dart-board on Henderson's behalf
and I've had enough of it", says David Frith.
- "I'd like to say that I wouldn't mind 10 minutes in a room
alone with Mr. Henderson...", opines Victor Ubogu.
.. But first: A Word from our Sponsor -
Please read Article #93321 carefully. As far as 'weasel words' are
concerned (Henderson's own phrase), one need look no further than
the paragraph quoted here -
<<< Nor is this decline simply at Test level. The current Wisden shows
no White & only 2 players of Asian descent (Chanderpaul & Dhanraj)
in the Red Stripe averages for the 1993-94 season. The explanation
commonly given by apologists for the lack of White & Asian players in
WI --- that economic circumstances have changed, forcing Asian & White
cricketers to concentrate on their careers rather than cricket ---
is very implausible. Are we to believe that there are no gifted White
& few gifted Asian cricketers from wealthy WI homes? Is it to be
assumed that every talented White cricketer & most Asian cricketers
in WI find a worthwhile career outside cricket? Frankly, it beggars
See how easily this segue'd from "How Test Squads are Selected" to
"They're being barred at every level". I'd have thought that WI policy
of including both above named in Touring Team was rather enlightened,
if anything (given the context of this discussion). As for why there
are few "Whites & Asians" in Red Stripe averages, perhaps it's because
*any* career short of <tax-inspector> is more attractive than cricket.
Kudos to the IRC cricket-follower who pointed out that Wimbledon winner
got $300,000+, while winning the Test earned 15,000 pounds for the
entire Team. Oh Joy!
Frankly, I know many WI cricketers & fans. They're of all stripes,
Black, Brown, White... The only Red ones are found after a CCC session
at Copperfield's in Bedford MA!
OK, Wombat has had his say. We return to our Observer Coverage...
Man Of Letters Goes Into His Bunker"
(Emma Lindsey briefly encounters the secretive scribe who penned the
infamous words of Wisden)
Robert Henderson, man of inflammatory letters, is unrepentant about the
furore that his racist ranting has aroused. A 49-year-old former tax-
inspector, he lives an almost hermit-like existence in a small council
flat in North London's Kings Cross.
For someone who is so provocatively outspoken in his copious epistles
to the public prints, he is curiously shy about coming out to face the
discordant music he has orchestrated; his telephone # is ex-directory,
he says 'for obvious reasons'. When a Channel 4 news crew went to
interview him last week he refused to be filmed, saying: "If this goes
on camera I shall be watching my back all the time." He has told
neighbours he has a debilitating medical condition & has been
unemployed for 2 years.
Apart from the offending piece in WCM, Henderson had 4 letters - at
least 1 of them in response to John Tyndall, the BNP leader - published
in the Sunday Telegraph. A recent piece he wrote for the Telegraph
following the racially motivated *** of a local boy was never
published. In it he complained of 'a stubborn refusal to address the
legitimate concerns of the white population about asian & negro
settlement in Britain'.
In an attempt to meet him I travelled up 2 floors in a graffiti-scarred
lift. After knocking loudly I called through the letter-box & was met
by the sight of a collection of anoraks on a hook & the waft of stale
air. Some minutes later a florid-faced Henderson, wearing a blue shirt
& crumpled trousers, half-opened the door but, on seeing me & a
photographer, would only say: 'No.No. I'm not doing any interviews.'
As the door slammed shut, I repeated that I wanted to offer him a
chance to justify his position & check some quotes he had given to
another newspaper. But his response, after about 10 mins, was to
stand behind the closed door reciting paragraphs from a PCC ruling
about harassment. We then left.
Yet earlier in the week he had not been quite so reticent, telling the
Evening Standard that he was a 'patriotic Englishman' & adding:
"Nationalities can't be put on & taken off like a coat. Personally,
I would not select Asians or Blacks. It is a particular problem with
team sports. When you're talking about playing in a team, it has to
involve visceral commitment. It's got to be instinctive".
<...Weary Wombat snips a bit...>
What eludes him is the complex relationship between nationality &
identity. More to the point, wherever they are born & whatever their
colour, sports-people play to win.
'Cricket's Racism hit for Six' - Kevin Mitchell
.. WCM has been inundated by letters & phone calls running roughly 9-1
in condemnation of the Henderson rationale that 'interlopers' -
'negroes' & 'asians' specifically - do not try as hard for England as
do 'unequivocal Englishman'. Elsewhere, on TV & Radio & in papers not
normally known to favour what Henderson curiously labels the 'liberal
elite', comments have come down on him like a Curtly Ambrose
'snot-boxer'. WCM's editor, David Frith, admits: "I've been up there
like a dart-board on Henderson's behalf & I've had enough of it'...
So much has he had of it,in fact, that he issued a statement on Friday
night expressing his regret at giving space to such a loose cannon.
Finally, I can agree with Frith. He had asserted that the debate was
healthy, which it is; he has shown courage now in conceding it should
not have been left in the hands of an obsessive racial purist...
Victor Ubogu has the last word. "I'm so proud to wear the Red Rose"
.. I've spent the past 6 weeks, at considerable cost in Time & Money
playing for England. Commitment? Tell me about it. I've trained hard,
played hard, not for any rewards but because I love representing my
country, which is England, and testing myself at the highest level...
When we line up for the Anthems I belt it out as proudly as the man
next to me. Or perhaps not. The bloke alongside is usually Brian Moore,
who thinks the Monarchy should be abolished. So much for Patriotic
..I'd like to say that I wouldn't mind 10 mins. in a room alone with
Mr. Henderson, but I guess that would only put me in the frame for yet
another mindless stereotype. Far better to ignore the bloke and
let actions speak for themselves.
Amen - Sunil