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‘A New Formation’ by Calum Jacobs is a nuanced piece of social history

A New Formation: How Black Footballers Shaped The Modern Game: Ian Wright of Arsenal holds his hands to his ears during the Coca Cola Cup quarter-final against Newcastle at Highbury Stadium in London. Arsenal won the match 2-0.

A New Formation: How Black Footballers Shaped The Modern Game is a book that delves deep into the experiences of black footballers from across the decades in Great Britain.

Edited by Calum Jacobs, the likes of Arsenal legend Ian Wright, former Lionesses manager Hope Powell and Premier League icon Andy Cole all feature, as their stories are uncovered and explored.

The handful of black players in the 1970s were often left with little option but to “turn the other cheek” towards the terraces’ white noise. Almost half a century later, English football is increasingly inclusive.




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This essay collection explores the myriad ways in which black players have helped to forge the modern game, and – in some cases – carve out successful careers for themselves once their playing days are finished, despite cultural and racial barriers.

Keen to pursue a media career, Ian Wright was encouraged by Sir Trevor McDonald. “Just be yourself,” urged the veteran broadcaster when the late ’90s Friday Night’s All Wright chat show first aired to mixed reviews. For ex-England Women manager Hope Powell, following a career in the game meant ignoring her mother’s advice that football “wasn’t what West Indian girls were supposed to do”.

Yet obstacles remain. Having seen the lack of black coaches, former Tottenham Hotspur and England defender Danny Rose is reluctant to take his coaching badges, skeptical that opportunities actually exist for him.

This is a fascinating, nuanced piece of social history.

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