Recordo Gordon on being told ‘racial prejudices’ would prevent him from making it at Warwickshire
Former bowler Recordo Gordon believes his race and social class held him back during his time at Warwickshire, having once been told as a young player that “racial prejudices” would prevent him from making it at the county.
The 30-year-old, who made his debut in 2013, has recalled having to stand up to certain types of conversation while at Warwickshire, and that the current culture within cricket dressing rooms is not healthy.
The reigning county champions have spoken to Gordon in the wake of allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire and in the wider game by Azeem Rafiq, and they say they are determined to improve the environment for everyone who visits Edgbaston.
“There are times when things were labelled as ‘this is what Black people do’ and I would question that, because I didn’t understand why I was being held accountable for these so-called Black people. I’m not all Black people,” Gordon told Sky Sports News.
“People would ask me why I’m behaving like that. If I have to answer for all Black people, it’s like me saying all white people are racist. I’d be told to get off my high horse and stop being so defensive, and I’d say ‘can you not see what you’re insinuating there?’
- Cricket Scotland is ‘institutionally racist’, claim two ex-players
- ‘Very toxic’ – Third former Essex player Ahmed alleges racism at club
- ECB ‘shocked, shamed’ by racism but chief Harrison vows not to quit
“The conversation would be confrontational, and I’d say ‘just leave it, because you’re wanting me to answer for something, because I’m not everybody, why are you presuming that I’m a thug or I’m a gangster?’
“I became that guy, and I was happy being that guy in the changing room; the guy who was known for not allowing certain conversations to be had because we can get along well without ‘banter’ about race.”
Gordon began his cricket career at Handsworth in inner-city Birmingham and believes inclusivity is vital as the ECB finalises an action plan that was discussed at a chair’s meeting at the Oval last Friday.
The former fast bowler, who left Warwickshire in 2016, believes there is social-class expectancy about where professional cricketers will come from.
“You hear stories about Warwickshire,” he said. “When I first left Handsworth Cricket Club to go and play for Moseley, which was four or five divisions above, you were told ‘you won’t make it, Warwickshire have racial prejudices’.
“My dad looked at me and said ‘listen, I don’t ever want you to say to me you don’t make it because of your race. You go out there and give it 110 per cent and, if you fail, it’s because your cricket has failed’.
“As much as the institutions have prejudices, a lot of the kids are fuelled with a lot of self-determining things that make them think there’s no point trying harder because I’m not going to make it anyway.”
Warwickshire were the first county to adopt the Rooney Rule in their most recent search for a head coach before appointing Mark Robinson, but Gordon believes this has to be handled sensitively.
“If a person is good enough no matter their race or their gender or their social background (then) interview them for the job,” Gordon said.
“If there are 50 European guys and an African coach isn’t good enough for the role, and their CV doesn’t stack up, or their experiences don’t stack up, (then) don’t invite them to the interview.
“I think it can breed an environment of contempt and either way you’re at a loss if you go down that route. This Rooney Rule; is it a tick-box thing or is it an actual solution to a problem?”
Mark McCafferty, chair of Warwickshire, said: “Everyone at Edgbaston has huge respect for Recordo and Stuart Cain, our chief executive, has talked with him to learn more about his experiences as a player and how he thinks the Club can better engage with our local community.
“Warwickshire CCC is determined to reflect the communities that we serve at every level of the game and we are committed to addressing the wider perceptions of the game that Recordo mentions. Edgbaston must be a safe and welcoming place for all and we will not let anything that’s taken place at the Club, past or present, detract from this.
“Earlier this year Recordo began working with us on the ACE programme, which aims to reignite passion for the game within the Birmingham’s black community, and he is also going to work with us as a county age group coach.
“As someone who had five years as a professional with the Bears and helped us win the T20 Blast in 2014, Recordo can offer a huge amount to cricket in Birmingham, Warwickshire and the wider West Midlands. We’re committed to learning more about his experience and leveraging his support to make a difference.”