The current England team is both the most diverse and the most politicised of any I can remember. Our top goalscorer Raheem Sterling was born in Jamaica and only moved here at the age of five. Bukayo Saka's folks moved here from Nigeria as economic migrants. Marcus Rashford, born in Manchester to a family of St. Kitts heritage, has been more involved in ending food poverty among schoolkids than the leader of the opposition. The team have chosen to collectively take the knee to show their opposition to societal racism – a decision supported by manager Gareth Southgate, a man who recently penned a profoundly moving open letter stressing the importance of recognising a diverse range of ways of feeling English.
Folk like Stormzy and Ian Wright have no problem getting behind them and round where I live, cars showing the England flag are just as likely to be driven by Muslim girls in headscarves as old white blokes who look like me.
Yet still many of my friends of acquaintances struggle to get behind the team or to express any vocal support for them . . . because a section of the England fan base are idiots.
I understand the desire to not feel represented by meatheads who seriously think taking the knee is somehow 'Marxist' and who come covered in bulldog tats. This is why it's important less bigoted folk also follow the team as without us, we hand over full representation to the goon squad.
However, if you're going to boycott the national team simply because racists like it, here are some other things you should probably cut out of your life: - chips - beer - Northern Soul - the English countryside - pies - Spain
Watching the impressive Danish team sweep aside the tired looking Welsh yesterday, I was struck by the fact there was a Denmark player called Martin Braithwaite, as it's a surname I've always strongly associated with the county of Yorkshire. I had a quick Google to see if there was a connection with him in England and it turns out Braithwaite's mum is white Danish and his dad is black Guyana in the Caribbean.
Historically dominated by the Lokono and Kalina tribes, Guyana was colonised by the Dutch before coming under British control in the late 18th century. It was then governed as British Guiana, with a mostly plantation-style economy until the 1950s. Independence was gained in 1966.
Many of the 1.5 million+ Caribbeans of African origin have ended up with British surnames simply because part of the process of enslavement and detachment from African roots involved becoming the legal property of their owners and that often included the imposition of their surnames.
This meant that they were subject to the whims of their owner and of local slave laws. For example, families could be split up, people could be sold, gifted and inherited as property. The enslaved people migrated with their owners to other countries and were often denied an education and not allowed to attend church.