At the time of writing Lee Bowyer is odds on to be named next Huddersfield Town manager, with most bookmakers supremely confident that he will be the successor to Jan Siewert. I don’t think he should be our new boss, and my reasons have nothing to do with football.
It’s not even Bowyer’s Leeds United connection that puts me off him as a manager, rather it’s this story from The Yorkshire Post;
"Shamsu Miah, who was working close to the hatch, recalled: “Bowyer came up to the drive-through window – he’s swearing at one of my workers. I could hear it because there’s a microphone on the hatch. He said ‘Hey, Paki, give me a cheeseburger’. The minicab driver was apologising on Bowyer’s behalf.
“He said he didn’t want to be served by a Paki. I said ‘If you don’t want to be served by a Paki, you will have to get out of this store.’”
He said Bowyer tried to get through the hatch to attack the Asian waiter, but the window was forced shut."
The article goes on to say that Bowyer and his friends entered the restaurant, yelled more racial slurs at the staff and then threw chairs at them to vent their anger. The police were called and they tracked down Bowyer and his friends hiding in a nearby bush.
Bowyer was fined heavily in the proceeding court case and narrowly escaped jail for his violent, racially motivated actions. However, that was not the end of the controversy for Bowyer as he found himself embroiled in another court case just a few years later.
In 2001 Bowyer and his fellow Leeds United teammate Jonathan Woodgate were acquitted of committing grievous bodily harm, with the defender being found guilty of affray. The incident for which they were on trial was alleged to have been a racially motivated attack.
The victim, Sarfraz Najeib suffered a broken leg, nose, and cheekbone after being set upon by a group of white males that included Bowyer and Woodgate. Whilst walking past Majestyk nightclub in Leeds, Najeib alleged that one member of the group shouted, “do you want some paki?” Before setting upon him.
Despite being found not guilty of the offence, Bowyer was heavily implicated in the case which was criticised by activists for being fundamentally racist in its outcome.
These incidents are the reason that I do not want Lee Bowyer involved in my football club, in any way, shape or form. The current Charlton manager may have avoided conviction in 2001, but his conduct, actions and words do not paint a picture of a respectable, inclusive person.
If you’re willing to indulge me further, here are the reasons why I believe Lee Bowyer should not be involved with Huddersfield Town.
According to the latest available census reports, Huddersfield and Kirklees have an Asian population of 10,837 (8.9%) which is higher than the national average. As a former mill town, we have a larger than average population of ethnic minorities in Huddersfield, something we should be proud of.
Our town owes much of its ingenuity, prosperity, and culture to a myriad of ethnic minorities who have become a part of the town’s heritage. In the current atmosphere of political flux, there are rising tensions between ethnic groups not just in Huddersfield, but across the country.
In a modern and inclusive society, this is not something that we want to foster or indeed experience. We should be working towards more inclusion, more equality, and a shared future rather than one of division and suspicion.
As we well know, sport is a fantastic medium to bring people together and unite communities. However, it can also be a barrier to inclusion as we have also seen throughout the decades in football.
British Asians are one of the most underrepresented demographics both on professional football pitches and in the stands. Several leading activists have claimed that football’s hostile image is a barrier to inclusion from the British Asian community.
Should we be adding a further barrier to that by appointing a man with a chequered racist past as our next manager? Should we give British Asians another reason to stay away from Huddersfield Town?
In appointing Bowyer as manager we would be prioritising footballing achievements over racial sensibilities. We would be saying that Bowyer’s achievements with Charlton outweigh the fears of British Asian fans who would be uneasy over a manager with a racist history taking the reins at the club.
Finally my secondary reservation over Lee Bowyer is a much less serious observation, but still, one that should matter to Huddersfield Town. Under the stewardship of Dean Hoyle and the management of David Wagner, our club has gained a lot of plaudits from opposing fans and journalists.
Much has been made of the club’s community focus and the hard work that it does for local charities. For the better part of a decade, our club has done some phenomenal work for the people of Huddersfield and Kirklees.
In the leaner times of footballing activity, this has been something that fans can rightly have been proud of. Something that separates us from other clubs and fills us with pride and an element of belonging.
Employing a racist would shatter all of this hard work and make us just one of the many football clubs that prioritise results over morals. Forget for a moment the racial elements of Bowyer’s past and think just of the violence.
That alone is enough to make Bowyer the wrong man for Huddersfield Town, and someone we should avoid at all costs.
I admit that for many of you reading, I may seem to be making too much of this. “It’s only football” you might say, but to me, it isn’t. As the recent demise of Bury has highlighted, a football club means so much more to its fans than what happens on the pitch.
For me, Huddersfield Town means community, something that everyone in the town can share in and be proud of no matter what your gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity. If we appoint Bowyer as our next manager, I will no longer be able to feel the same about the club.
I hope the short odds on Bowyer are nothing more than the result of a few large bets being placed on his name. I hope the club will continue to show common sense and morality with regards to its next manager and avoid Lee Bowyer.