Community comes together to back England footballer and oppose racism after mural was defaced

Tuesday evening’s crowd, which spanned all ages and a range of nationalities, ethnicities and faiths, including an archbishop and a rabbi, chanted “black lives matter” and “we are the opposition”.Advertisement

Signs in tribute to Christopher Alder, who died in police custody in Leeds in 1998, accompanied handmade posters reading: “Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear football boots.” One wellwisher had left flowers with an anonymous note: “I won’t apologise for sending a man I’ve never met flowers, however I will apologise for the small percentage of fuckwits on this island. Much love from a large percentage.”

Withington Walls’ crowdfunder to raise money to repair the mural vastly exceeded the original target within hours. Wellard said many of those donating could not make it to the mural in person but wanted to show solidarity and stand up to racism.

“It’s evolved into something really special, hasn’t it?” Wellard said. On Monday he had said he felt “pretty sad about our society that this was where we were”. “It felt like we taken all these leaps forward with that team, they were promoting diversity and equality and inclusion, and they seemed like a pretty decent set of lads, but yet this nasty element is still there in British football and in British society,” he continued.

Wellard said he wanted to show empathy and compassion for the three footballers who had missed penalties and were facing abuse, and that was what “the people of Withington and Manchester stepped up and have done with these notes on the mural”.