The Reality Of Racism: The Nathan Austin Story

Austin Nets His 48th Goal Of The Season🔥 Image courtesy of Malcom MacKenzie 📷

Racism in general is an ever-growing fault in society, however, this can be seen to a wider extent in the football world. A recent survey carried out by the SFA showed that 63% of people have witnessed racism at a football match in Scotland, proving that racism is a predominant issue in Scottish football. This devasting issue can have a destructive effect on individuals. 

In 2008 a young Nathan Austin was on the end of some horrific racial abuse by players, parents and coaches when playing for his local side East Wemyss U15’s. His story went viral and before long the SFA chief Gordon Smith got in touch with Nathan and invited him to Hampden for a match against Croatia and that changed his perspective on the beautiful game.

Speaking about the racism he received and how the trip to Glasgow saved his footballing career, he said: “It was my mum who wanted me to quit. She was the one who was standing at the side of the pitch and she had to listen to one of the coaches say, “break the black basta**s legs.” It was quite severe and serious the abuse I was getting. She came to the games after that and I retaliated and got a red card one game and that is when we took it to the papers as a guy called me a black afro basta**. That’s why we came forward and took it to the papers and started contemplating about giving it up.”

Having witnessed Scotland v Croatia at Hampden, Austin returned a decade later to the holy grail where his career was saved, featuring in a cup semi-final for Inverness. 

There are fantastic organisations such as ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ who do their best to try and tackle racism. They have offered help to numerous footballers across the world and supported Nathan during his battle against racismalongside 50,000 others. Established in 1996, SRTRC all started by a donation by Newcastle United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.

Shaka Hislop

He said: “They highlight it and stuff, and helped me but I think it’s more to do with fans and hatred for other clubs. Alfredo Morelos who has seemingly received racial abuse from Celtic fans. If he played for Celtic the fans would love him.” Nathan believes “{you are} more likely to be racially abused if you play for a bigger club.

Referencing Rangers Morelos, Austin details. “Just because he is a good player and scores goals doesn’t mean he should be racially abused.”

Asking Nathan, does he ever think racism will have its contract with football terminated, he replied: “I do not think entirely. Racism is still everyday life and happens all the time so I do not think you can just say that it will just go away. To kick it out 100%, I do not think It would be possible. You can’t stop anyone thinking the way they do and acting the way they do, so I don’t think you can kick it out 100%.”

Unfortunately, having experienced this before, Austin was accustomed to dealing with this issue. He knew what to expect when this controversial topic resurfaced when he was racially abused again a few years later while playing for East Fife.

Austin Nets For East Fife In 2016

Nathan’s football career has only gone from strength to strength over the last few years, but at the end of last season he stunned Scottish football fans as he made the decision to drop down a considerable number of leagues and join part-time Kelty Hearts and also secured part-time job in the process.

Speaking about the move, he said: “It was a big decision to make. Being a professional football player playing full time for four years before that. I’ve got a child and a partner and I needed to provide as much as I could for them as well. I am from Leven, that’s where I was brought up and that’s where I wanted to raise my child as well, coming back down the road meant it was about finding a club that was more suitable for me, who I can play for and enjoy playing football again. I didn’t enjoy it as much up in Inverness because I wasn’t playing as much.

There weren’t many full-time options so it was about picking the part-time team for me as well”. It is evident that Austin works hard being also employed as a groundworker, which was influential in his team choice.

He turned down offers from both Partick Thistle and Ayr United to join the Lowland League outfit.

Austin has scored an unbelievable 48 goals this season, playing a vital role in helping Kelty win the Lowland League title and unsurprising won the Player’s Player Of The Season.

Fash was delighted of what has transpired to be the perfect choice.

He said: “Yeah, it’s something to be really proud of. I think I would have got more than 50 goals this season which looking back on In a few years to come would have been something to be really proud of, but the 48 goals when you look at it is really good. Its more about helping the team to be honest with you. Once I got into four or five games I got into the groove and was playing with a smile on my face.

“When you feel like you are an important player of the team you want to help the team as much as you are possible and be involved in as much as possible. Me and Barry Ferguson the gaffer, he brought me in. He thinks highly of me and I think even higher of him.”

The Coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact on Scottish football and a lot of drama has unfolded due to the failed league reconstruction attempts.

Nathan’s club, Kelty Hearts have been denied their dream of playing SPFL football next season as they looked set to win the Lowland League following a fantastic season.

Speaking about his thoughts on Scottish football at the moment, Nathan said: “I don’t think Scottish football is in a good place at the moment as teams are being punished for something they had no say on. Teams are taking care of themselves no matter the damage to others.

“Reconstruction was the best way to go without damaging teams, but it got declined and now prowl are seeing how many teams are effected. Not once have any players been asked on what they think the best way forward was for Scottish football. They are just as important.

“It is a big few months coming up and hopefully we can salvage the game and all the teams can survive.”

There are also protests worldwide at the moment about ‘Black Lives Matter’. This is a subject which is very close to Austin’s heart following his past.

Fash went on to speak about his thoughts on Black Lives Matter.

He said: “I am obviously 100% behind Black Lives Matter as from my past experiences it’s something I’m passionate about and feel strongly towards. Like I said before things have got better but it’s about making it even better and over the last month or so things have been highlighted, brought to light and it’s making more people aware therefore hopefully it will help change.”

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