Steph McGovern and Chris Kamara had a deeply emotional moment on Thursday’s episode of Steph’s Packed Lunch as the former footballer recalled his experiences of racism growing up.
Chris was a guest on the show at the start of Black History Month and their heartbreaking discussion about their shared hometown became too much for them both, forcing the show to cut to an advert break.
Steph asked Chris what he was taught at school about black history, prompting him to speak about the ‘hard’ challenges he faced as a child in Middlesborough.
‘I only knew five black people growing up: Usain Pele, Louis Armstrong, Mohammed Ali, and Al Jolson. Al Jolson was white, but you know my mum and dad loved to listen to his music.
‘Growing up in Middlesborough was very difficult for me and my family. It was so hard.
‘In these days, they just don’t realise when you’re the only black people on your estate, the only black people in your town, how devastating effect that had on my dad. And sort of did our future as well.
‘He was trying to protect us as much as possible but it was really difficult for him and people of his ilk.’
Asked if he ‘felt different’ growing up’, he told the story of one time when a woman told him and his family to ‘go back where they came from’ as he was buying cigarettes for his mum.
‘Well we only lived five doors away from her!’ he added.
The Ninja Warrior host was determined to succeed at school, where he was the only black person, because ‘outside people will try and stop your progress’.
He then turned to the early days of his football career when he would enter the dressing room and the other players would fall silent.
‘They’d go “Oh you’re alright Kammy, you don’t mind” and I couldn’t mind because I was the minority, I was one person. If there were two or three of you to help, you say, look guys…it’s fine and it’s a giggle but really and truly it hurts’.
Chris went on: ‘People have already suggested after the George Floyd death have we now done away with it – no, footballer players are still taking a knee, people are still learning, that we’re all people. We’re all one colour.’
Steph encouraged the studio audience to clap after his final comments, before telling him: ‘I get a bit emotional listening to you Kammy, you’re from my hometown and…’
She trailed off and struggled to finish her sentence and the sports star – starting to tear up as well – added: ‘Don’t make me start crying!’
As Steph passed over to guest presenter Russell Kane, he promptly went to an advert break instead.
After the ad break Steph joked that it was ‘hormones’ that had made emotional.
‘[Chris] was a massive role model to me. And just to hear about the things he’s experienced…I got a bit overwhelmed. And having had a baby recently as well, it’s hormones!
‘Welcome back – sorry about that! Loads more on the show, I promise I won’t be doing the big emotional thing anymore!’
Steph’s Packed Lunch airs weekdays from 12.30pm on Channel 4.
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