Manchester City And Imre Varadi Were Right: Don’t Blame The Banana For Racism In Football
CHUCKING banana skins and grunting like a monkey are things of history in British football. Over in Spain, racism is more prevalent. Last night, Barcelona’s Dani Alves fielded a banana tossed from the crowd at Villarreal’s Estadio El Madrigal and ate it.
He didn’t even pick off the black and stringy bits. He just peeled and ate it, in a move that mocked both the mentally negligible fool who’d tossed it and the threat of indigestion. To put the tin lid on Alves’ sweet revenge, Barcelona came from 2-0 down to beat Villarreal 3-2. Said Alves:
“I don’t know who threw the banana but I want to thank him as it gave me the energy to put two more crosses in for our goals.”
Bang! All power to him.
But let us not race to blame the banana for the idiot. It did not slip from his grasp. He tossed it. The fool in the stands intended to upset Alves, to accuse him of being a banana eater and thus something sub-human.
True enough to say that we not know the full facts. Perhaps the fool in the stands works for the mango marketing board, or is part of a drive to steer Spaniards away from imported fruits to native oranges? Perhaps it just slipped from his grasp with a “whoooip” whistle?
Most likely, the banana tosser is merely a racist, an arcane strata of sub-humanity.
It’s a great pity these idiots always pick on bananas, which have for ages been objects of fun and laughter:
Many of us see bananas as objects of fun.
Manchester City fans took the fruit to their hearts. In the late 1980s, City’s Maine Road was a haven for inflatable bananas.
The craze for taking inflatables to football grounds is said to have been trigged by one Frank Newton, a Manchester City fan who attended a match against Plymouth Argyle in 1987 with a single inflatable banana:
Frank decided to remove his regulation City shirt and for the want of anywhere else to put it, put it on the banana. Within a few minutes a face had been drawn and a bobble hat completed the effect…
Just like Frank, the banana followed City all over the country and became a well-known figure on the terraces. At West Brom in November, City fans called for the appearance of substitute Imre Varadi. The chant mutated and he was henceforth known affectionately as “Imre Banana”…
It was the 1988/89 football season that saw the inflatables craze really take off…. Frank had moved up to a six-foot crocodile but the rest of the fans had caught up with him. At a pub outside Hull he was joined by fans carrying a toucan, a seven foot golf club, a spitfire, a Red Baron and two bananas. At the ground there were still more: parrots, gorillas, panthers and literally hundreds of bananas…
The movements reached it apogee in 1987 when four fans appeared at West Bromwich Albion’s ground carrying an inflatable paddling pool. Sharks and penguins were both represented. (Arsenal fans favoured the inflatable fried egg.)
At one end of the terrace stood Godzilla. Six foot tall, green and mean, this dinosaur was a match for anybody. At the other end of the terrace stood Frankenstein’s Monster. Slowly they bagan to converge towards the centre of the terrace. The crowd roared.
So. Come on, let’s rescue the banana from the sticky hands of the bigot, and return the smile-shaped fruit to its rightful place as an object of joy.