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Whites v Blacks: How Football Changed a Nation

Adrian Chiles looks into an extraordinary game of professional football that took place in May 1979, where an all-white team took on a side comprised solely of black players.

On 16 May 1979, an extraordinary game of professional football took place that, if played today, would very possibly cause uproar, mass protest and a media frenzy. As part of Len Cantello's testimonial at West Bromwich Albion, an all-white team took on a side comprised solely of black players - 'whites against blacks'.

For the white team, it was nothing more than a lighthearted gimmick, but for the black players it represented so much more. It was a game they had to win. Racism was rife, and black people were far from welcome on the pitch, in the stands or in the boardroom.

In this film, presenter Adrian Chiles journeys across England to discover the truths, taboos and real meaning behind this remarkable game. He uncovers rarely seen footage and reunites players from both teams, including Ally Robertson, Tony 'Bomber' Brown, Cyrille Regis and Brendan Batson.

Today, around 30 per cent of English professionals are black. They are role models and superstars, some earning in excess of £100,000 a week. On the surface, everything seems rosy, but how far have we really come? Through encounters with stars like Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand and Dion Dublin, Adrian contrasts the attitudes and conflicts that swirled around that infamous game with the reality of being a black player in the modern era.

59 minutes

Last on

Thu 5 Jul 2018 22:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:06



  • 00:10

    Gary Numan


  • 00:11


    Reefer Madness

  • 00:19

    The Specials

    Ghost Town

  • 00:23

    Ernest Ranglin


  • 00:30

    Tina Charles

    I Love To Love

  • 00:41

    The Police

    Walking On The Moon

  • 00:42

    Harry J. Allstars


  • 00:45

    New Order

    World In Motion

  • 00:47

    New Order

    World In Motion


Role Contributor
Presenter Adrian Chiles
Writer Adrian Chiles
Executive Producer Narinder Minhas
Production Manager Lauren Armstrong
Participant Laurie Rampling
Participant Ally Robertson
Participant Tony Brown
Participant John Wile
Participant Brendan Batson
Participant Cyrille Regis
Participant Bob Hazell
Participant George Berry
Participant Joy Hazell
Participant Maureen Berry
Participant Nigel Bromage
Participant Keith Cunningham
Participant Nicky Brown
Participant John Deol
Participant Mantei Deol
Participant Naydeep Deol
Participant Vernon Hodgson
Participant Ian Wright
Participant Dion Dublin
Participant Jason Roberts
Participant Les Ferdinand
Production Company Sugar Films