Himself a victim of racial abuse in the 1980s, Brendon Batson has made a major contribution to the national campaign to eradicate racism from football. He calls racism ‘one of the worst diseases in football worldwide’.
Brendon Batson was born on the island of Grenada, moved to Trinidad aged 6 and then came to Britain when he was nine years old in 1962. Looking at his career, it might be heard to believe but before moving to England he hadn’t shown any aptitude towards sport and never even kicked a ball before! Once he started to play for his school football team, he made rapid progress though and by 13 was playing for the district.
Batson signed professional at 17. He joined Arsenal in 1970, making ten first team appearances and became the ‘Gunners’’ first black first team player. Joining Cambridge United in 1972, Batson made 163 appearances and scored six goals before he followed his manager, Ron Atkinson, to West Bromwich Albion in a £28,000 transfer.
After 160 League appearances in the exciting Albion side of the late 1970s and early 1980s, where he won recognition at England ‘B’ level, he suffered a succession of knee injuries that eventually forced him to retire from football in 1984.
Batson has since become a Chairman of the Professional Footballers Association after serving as the Assistant Secretary of the union. He was awarded an MBE in 2001 in recognition of achievements.