MANY years ago, for reasons long forgotten, I was dispatched to cover a game at Millwall.

The press box at the New Den was full and so I sat in the main stand among the punters. A man in his early forties, and I presumed his son who was about ten, were in the row in front of me. They hadn’t said a word until one of the opposition, a black defender, fouled the home favourite one too many times.

“You dirty f****** n*****,” shouted father of the year. The year being 1830 when he was a plantation owner in Louisiana. He laughed loudly at such a pithy comment, turned to his child and said: “He’s a d**** n*****, ain’t he?” Nobody said anything. Myself included. Shamefully and cowardly.

Millwall won the game in the 90th minute and Jim Crow, as I silently named him, celebrated wildly, hugging fellow fans and proudly bellowed about how the goal was, and I remember this quite clearly, “beautiful.”

The hero was a black player. Stupid people really don’t have it within them to work out just how stupid they are.

I came way thinking that while in Scotland we endure dreary sectarianism, which is racist in its own way, at least black players didn’t by and large have to put up with such vileness. How naïve. We have always had a problem and now it's getting worse.

About this time last year, Mark Walters gave a number of interviews about his time at Rangers – it was 30 years to the day since e had moved to Ibrox.

“Aye, why is he bringing that up now?” asked more than one suspicious Celtic supporter who, of course, sniffed a conspiracy. I think we can all agree that only white people can decide when a black man can talk about his life and any abuse he's suffered...

“It was 30 years ago,” was the cry as the one-time Rangers winger recalled his debut at Celtic Park in an Old Firm game when bananas were thrown at him. Yeah, it was some time ago but it seems there are many who didn't get the memo that it was wrong.

Rangers have had their problems; remember the monkey gesture towards Scott Sinclair? Maurice Edu, who was at Ibrox at the time, was called a black ******* by his own fans after a game. And more recently, an Aberdeen fan was caught hurling abuse at Sinclair. What must that man think of us?

I could go on and on. Of course, if I were to leave out an incident the whataboutery crowd would pounce on it. They don’t care about a human being having to put up this crap when point scoring is the order of the day.

I have to say, if your point is that your own supporters have less racists than a rival then you need a good look at yourself.

Also, it's not a competition. No club, really, is squeaky clean.

There is, however, one Scottish club which comes up more than any other if you type ‘Scottish football’ and ‘racism’ into a search engine. And I'm afraid that’s Hearts.

The Tynecastle club have banned two of their own supporters for allegedly racially abusing Motherwell’s Christian Mbulu at the weekend. Ann Budge’s statement was strong and the condemnation of the rest of the Hearts supporters was great to hear.

Hearts are not a racist club. In fact, it’s a brilliant club. I don’t have the figures but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had signed more black players than any other Scottish team.

Hand on heart, I have never personally been at a game at Tynecastle, my favourite ground in the country, and heard any racism, although Jambo pals do have anecdotal evidence of such despicable behaviour from home and away games. That didn't come as a surprise.

Hearts have had more problems than most when it comes to 'fans' and racist abuse. Those who lean further right than Josef Mengele believe, wrongly, their football home to be Tynecastle.

There is a picture doing the rounds of maybe 30 supposed Hearts fans with Robinson masks. What must Budge, a thoroughly decent person, feel when she sees that.

By all accounts, it was Hearts fans who pointed out those who were arrested at the weekend. Good on then. At least they had it in them to act, unlike myself all those years ago. Because it’s up to us, the good people, to identify these morons and get them out of our game. I fear there are more of them than we would like to think. They shame us all.

And Another thing

THERE were more than a few Rangers fans who voiced concern about Steven Gerrard's latest public mauling of his players.

The fear being that such harsh words would not bring out the best in those who are not performing. I get that but I also get why Gerrard is so open and honest. Footballers need to hear home truths and those who can take it on board will get another chance. Those who don't aren't what Rangers need. It should be an honour to play for that club and there are a few who don't seem to really care.