. Paulo di Canio | London Progressive Journal
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Paulo di Canio

Mon 15th Apr 2013

Why didn't they say anything about Paolo Di Canio at Swindon? You'd have to ask them in and around Swindon. The West Country is seen as a less radical, a less militant, even a less political area than the North East. But time was when the two were evenly matched.

David Miliband would have had to have resigned, anyway. He could hardly have done the job from New York. But one hopes, even those of us who are normally indifferent to football, that this furore will bring to a head the question of who owns this country's last great expressions of working-class culture, and last great focal points of local patriotism.

There should be mutual ownership of the clubs by the fans, as in Spain. And there should be municipal ownership of the grounds, as in Italy. The Americans would never permit ownership of major sports teams by foreign nationals thousands of miles, who knew nothing about the local culture and who cared only about the money. They are right. Nor should we.

The Durham Miners' Association, which is rightly demanding the return of the Wearmouth Miners' Lodge Banner that hangs in the Stadium of Light, is not short of a bob or two. It continues to put on the Gala every year. And it co-owns the Morning Star. Don't knock unless you have recently read Britain's original anti-EU newspaper, which provides an important anti-war platform, and which still comes out as a daily paper despite also publishing its entire content on the Internet. Watch that space.

Meanwhile, Sunderland was part of County Durham in September 1943, when the Durham Light Infantry was part of the army that landed at Salerno, Reggio and Taranto, thereby beginning the liberation of Italy. They were still in Italy on VE Day. That city's football club therefore has until 3rd September 2013, the seventieth anniversary of the start of the Italian Campaign, to be rid of this person. Or let all hell break loose from the Tyne to the Tees two months later on Remembrance Sunday.

As the North East, and especially historic County Durham, still defined as such for the cricket at which we are rather good, burnish our not inconsiderable anti-Fascist credentials, how about a memorial to the ILP Contingent? They went out to Spain to fight the forces of Fascism, and they were murdered by the forces of Stalinism.

There is now a small plaque in the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. But nothing to compare with the Soviet-directed International Brigade's considerable monument on London's South Bank, together with at least four more memorials in England, three in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland, two in the Irish Republic, and one in Wales. Including one in Newcastle.

If Newcastle has one to that, then where better than Sunderland to have one to this? As near as possible to the entrance to the Stadium of Light, facing it as a constant reproof. Perhaps paid for and maintained by the Durham Miners' Association.

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