To Jewish Palace Fans, Wayne Hennessey's Ignorance of Nazism and Fascism is Far from Blissful

Written by Matt Davis

Yesterday, the FA found that the charge against Wayne Hennessey of making a Nazi salute was not proven. The news has left Palace fan Matt Davis asking whether the club will commit to educating the goalkeeper, who in his defence claimed he didn't know what a nazi salute was. 

Fans wet

Having two identities is something that’s always been ingrained in me. 

I’m Jewish and a Crystal Palace fan. 

The similarities are, maybe surprisingly, many. Values, honesty, hope, humour, loyalty, enthusiasm, community, empathy, family, being outsiders - to name but a few.

When I was a young boy, my father said to me, “let’s stand on the Arthur - if you sit down and work hard for your Bar Mitzvah too” (doesn’t scan brilliantly but hey). 1985 was a monster year - Ball boy at Selhurst and Bar Mitzvah boy in Bromley. Palace paraphernalia the presents I most coveted.

Whichever way you look at it, I was always a minority in a minority. Palace, we all know, were never the most fashionable, a yo-yo team until these golden days (they are, enjoy them!)

And a very small number of Jews live in South London. Spectacularly-failed chairman, Mark Goldberg, was one of them (gently confronting him outside synagogue on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, was a little awkward). His sorry ownership did elicit some lazy trope based antisemitism in a long defunct fanzine (not the brilliant Palace Echo) but it was swiftly stamped out and a grovelling apology followed.

And apart from some Y word nonsense at Spurs a few years ago by a number of idiots I can count on one hand, Palace fans have a more than decent record on inclusivity regards this most tiny of minorities.

Our admittedly low profile American owners are proud Jews, but I’ve witnessed nothing negative. My fellow fans find antisemitism abhorrent, and welcome my views on it, the misdirected Spurs Y word use included.

So this Wayne Hennessey debacle has been a punch as powerful as a Luka kick to our great club - one that I feel in the pit of my stomach.

Hennessey walk

From his beyond laughable excuse to tumbleweed waves of nothingness, I felt there was a drift, the issue sinking in the FA’s in tray of shame. But I couldn’t have predicted this sorry, sorry conclusion.

The FA have acted appallingly, blaming ignorance for lack of action. So it’s left to the club to act now.

I love this club. I’m so proud of everything they do, have done, will do in the future. Their record on diversity, race, gender, outreach, you name it, is exemplary. And I’m sure they’ll be hatching a plan.

But please let it be swift, robust and unambiguous. Let’s duck his dire “didn’t do it” denial. Perhaps we begin with a very public expression of shock that Hennessey hadn’t heard of the Nazi salute. This will facilitate a commitment that he will be receiving holocaust education. 

Organising a visit from the The Holocaust Educational Trust will be a quick and effective win.

Antisemitism is in the news a lot, we could actually turn this into opportunity to make a stance. One that would be authentic for a club like ours, known for our openness and honesty. Wheel Wayne out to talk to camera. He must be ashamed anyway?

In truth, as a club we can’t do enough. Express through every channel possible how distraught that this has happened. Learn from it. An ethos of zero tolerance baked into every nook and cranny of this club we love.

Then I can tell my kids wholeheartedly, “listen here, you’re CPFC, Jewish and proud.”