Are there any scarier words in the English language than, ‘Issues film’? Well, perhaps “Rail replacement bus service” or “Coming up next, Mrs Browns Boys” but the thought of a film highlighting any issue in society (regardless of the subject matter itself) isn’t one that is, if we’re being honest, most of us would probably make a beeline to ahead of an ‘Escape To Victory’ or ‘Moonraker’. Who would substitute entertainment and escapism for self-reflection and being forced to think? Yet with Brentford FC already showing their support of Football v Homophobia month and promoting the Rainbow laces campaign (amongst other things), the club have now taken another step forward whilst helping to challenge such ideas.
Last night’s screening of the film WONDERKID, in conjunction with Sky Sports at their on site cinema – looking at the issue of homophobia in football – was simply invigorating. And, let’s be clear, thoroughly entertaining. “Thought provoking stuff” said our host for the evening Natalie Sawyer on more than one occasion. And wasn’t she right?
Look, I’m not going to overly preach about homophobia or LGBT rights. In my eyes it ’s very black and white. Anybody who thinks cowardly, hateful comments and actions as a response to something as irrelevant as somebody’s sexual preference are appropriate – whether in person or on social media – needs to step back into the Dark Ages. Lecture over.
However, it was so refreshing to see our own conceptions challenged in the film, to hear the comments from the audience and, perhaps most importantly, sit in on the post-screening discussion which included, amongst others, Sophie Cook from Bournemouth and our own Mark Devlin.
Mark quite rightly noting the good work already being done by Brentford in this field, something which it is still in its infancy. Talking of how, with one supporter already banned, the aim is ‘zero tolerance’. Zero. Tolerance. That’s a big statement to make but a very pleasing one to hear.
Mark spoke of how he is looking to encourage fans to report instances of abuse – for example through the ‘kick it out’ app. Of how great it was to receive emails praising the club for the lack of any of that ‘oh so tedious’ (my words) chanting against Brighton this season.
Fairplay to Mark, too, for noting the club has been accused of simply ’ticking a box’ in the past when approaching such issues. Whether this is true or not, we are where we are and, in my personal opinion, that is well ahead of so many other clubs – both in terms of the attitude and display from the vast majority of our own fans aswell as our own ambitions. The question being how do we push on from here? Mark, I guess that’s why you are the chief executive and I’m just the numpty on the terrace.
I sincerely hope the panel discussion is shared on Brentford’s social media platforms today. It really is well, well worth a look, especially some brave, yet also wonderfully positive input, from Sophie. As is the film (starring Chris Mason as ‘wonderkid’ McGuire) which I came out of as intrigued in how the plot would continue as in the subject matter itself.
Huge thanks to everybody at the football club and Sky Sports for last night’s event. How nice to see all our high profile club figures and groups represented. As well as Natalie and Mark, amongst others also present were film director Rhys Chapman, the LGBeeT group, Chairman Cliff Crown, the B Team, many of the first XI, the media team, Beesotted, BIAS and Brentford guru Tom Moore from Get West London. As were the fans, of course.
And, likewise, a special thanks to Cliff who gave an insight as to what he had been up to this weekend. The previous column noted his appearance at Wembley stadium for the EFL final, sitting at the front of the Royal Box in his Brentford jacket. Well, rather than a hitherto unheard of connection to the monarchy, this was due to his role on the board of the EFL.
How good that the club have a voice in such a place of influence. With the subject matter of homophobia one at the forefront of our discussion, this is more than timely.Keep up the great work, Cliff
And, of course, keep up the great work Brentford.