Life-long Collingwood Football Club supporter Jeremy Stanford says he felt “gutted” after learning of the results of an internal report into racism at the club.
- The findings of the report and the club’s response have created a deep rift between Magpies supporters
- Many have called for Eddie McGuire to step down
- Former Magpies director David Galbally says he’s certain the club can recover
Mr Stanford’s grandfather and father both barracked for the Magpies, and so do his children.
But he is also passionately opposed to racism.
“I was gutted when I found out what the findings from the report were,” he said.
“I found it really upsetting that something as major as this could have got so far in our club.”
A deeply divided response from supporters
The report, which found the club was guilty of “distinct and egregious” systemic racism and called for sweeping structural change, has created a deep rift between Magpies supporters.
The comments section on a post about the report on the club’s own Facebook page yesterday provided a good barometer of the depth of feeling.
Many commenters said the club had a “huge problem” with its culture that needed to be addressed, with more than a few suggesting sacking club president Eddie McGuire would be a good start.
Some said they recognised the club had an issue with racism, but applauded its leaders for taking steps to address it.
Others reckoned Collingwood had been unfairly singled out for an issue that’s common to all football clubs or said the problem had been blown out of proportion.
Mr Stanford, who was one of those debating the issue, said he was grateful for everything McGuire had done for Collingwood but believed he should resign.
“The truth is, he was a great president for our club,” he said.
“He took us from almost being in a position of bankruptcy into being one of the strongest clubs in the country. However, he stayed too long, and it’s time for him to go.”
Mr Stanford said McGuire should make way for someone else to come in and “fix the club”.
“Because I’m in a position where I feel like I can’t cheer on my club because they don’t represent my values,” he said.
“And it’s a really difficult position to be in, because what do I do? Do I sit out the season until I see that the club has changed its ways? I don’t know.
“I find it really difficult to understand what to do in this position.”
‘A great result and a progressive approach’
Another devoted Magpies supporter in the thick of the debate on the Magpies’ Facebook page but with a different view was Al Hollamby.
Mr Hollamby said the fact the club had commissioned the report in the first place was a good thing.
“I thought that it was a great result and a progressive approach to dealing with racism,” Mr Hollamby told the ABC.
“I thought it was a very good leap. I want to say leap — not a step — a leap in the right direction.”
In terms of Monday’s press conference, he said McGuire should have chosen his words more carefully.
And he agreed that McGuire should have stepped down several years ago, but in order to have a smooth transition not because of the racism controversy
“The history of the club is, he came to the club when they needed him and he made it successful, but as president he’s stayed too long,” he said.
He felt a lot of empathy for Héritier Lumumba, he said, as it was “bloody hard” for someone to call their peers out.
However, he said racism was in all sports and he didn’t believe that Collingwood in particular had a problem with it.
“I don’t like the stacks on bit,” he added. “If you think that racism, and other issues, are not alive and well, in other sports, think again.”
Board ‘handed a clear moral obligation’
Toby Hemingway, of Collingwood Fans Care, said many in the group were hoping the club’s board would “realise the error of their ways” and that McGuire was going to announce his immediate resignation at the press conference.
“That didn’t happen, obviously,” Mr Hemingway told the ABC.
Mr Hemingway said the club’s board knew what they had to do.
“They were handed a clear moral obligation by the review, which they commissioned themselves, and it would be a moral failing them not to act with much more conviction, and much more consideration for the victims of the club’s racist history,” he said.
Club will come through the crisis, says former director
Former Magpies director David Galbally, who has previously publicly called for McGuire to stand down, said he was “most disappointed” by the “appalling” report.
“I thought the club had come a long way, a long time ago, but clearly it hasn’t,” Mr Galbally said.
He said he was shocked by how little the club had done to address its problems with racism that go back to the 1970s and said the board should consider resigning.
“Because it’s a very bad example to be setting to all the young kids in the community,” he said.
However, he was certain the club could recover from this episode.
“Over my lifetime, the club has faced many crises, and it will emerge again,” he said.
“And what is important is to make sure that it’s in a position, and put in a position by those that are there at this moment in time, that it recovers very, very quickly.”