Darren Randolph hoping Black Lives Matter remains in public eye

West Ham goalkeeper believes players will use Premier League return to make a stand

Darren Randolph hopes players will make a stand when the Premier League returns. Photo: Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United FC via Getty Images

Darren Randolph hopes players will make a stand when the Premier League returns. Photo: Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United FC via Getty Images

 

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph is hoping that the scale of the Black Lives Matter protests of recent weeks will help to ensure that the issue of racism is kept in the public eye as the Premier League returns and players find themselves with a stage, once more, on which to make a statement.

“I think there will be a lot more protests,” he said, speaking on Basketball Ireland’s new weekly interview series, Bench Talk. “Maybe if someone scores a goal maybe there will be different messages put on their shirts to celebrate and try and get the message across.

“Definitely for now the issue isn’t going to go away and it is just going to keep on getting highlighted. There have been different incidences in the past with racism in sport and people tend to talk about it for a day or two and it’s gone but I am hoping this will be a turning point and it just gathers momentum.”

The 33 year-old, who rejoined West Ham in January, says he was no stranger to racism himself as a child of mixed ethnicity growing up and playing sport in Ireland.

“I was aware from a young age I was different just from my skin tone alone,” he says. “I am fairly confident I was the only mixed race in my primary school. Kids being kids in the playground, when you’re playing football, different things are being said and people will laugh about it. When you are young you probably don’t understand the seriousness of what’s said or what certain terms or words mean.

“So yeah, there were certain times where I would get upset about it. Looking back now I would probably get more angry or upset, because I know where those words and phrases came from and what they meant and the full background on everything.

“When I was a little bit older I enjoyed playing Gaelic because if there was anything said on the Gaelic pitch you are able to shoulder someone or if someone is running with the ball you are able to throw in a sly punch. It sounds bad to say but it was my way of getting my own back. Whereas playing football back when I was younger, in Wicklow or Dublin, people would be able to stand or sit beside the goals and there is not much that can be done.

“I don’t remember coming up against other team with a mixed race or black player on the team,” he adds. “So maybe that just made it more... I was made more aware of it and it made me more determined to do better.”

Randolph acknowledges, meanwhile, that there are some coronavirus-related concerns around the return to Premier League action with Wolves first up for West Ham at the weekend. “We get the Covid tests every Monday and Thursday, so they are doing everything to ensure that the training ground is as safe as possible. But yeah, some people may be quite nervous to come back and play games. Teams like us down the bottom, though, we have no choice but to come back and play, because you don’t want to get relegated.”

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