Hartlepool fans should not 'black up' as Bob Marley - Kick It Out

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Hartlepool fans wore Smurfs outfits on the last day of the 2011-12 season

Hartlepool fans set to dress up as Bob Marley for next week's trip to Carlisle should avoid "blacking up", says anti-discrimination body Kick It Out.

Supporters of the League Two club wear fancy dress to their final away game of the season, donning Smurfs outfitsexternal-link for the trip to Charlton in 2011-12.

Kick it Out has advised Carlisle to refuse entry to anyone who "blacks up".

John Pearson, who organised the fancy dress, said there was "never any intention" for Pools fans to do so.

Kick It Out said it had received "a number of complaints" from Hartlepool supporters, adding it had "provided guidance to both clubs".

Pearson told BBC Sport: "It's a bit offensive to suggest we were going to 'black up', I'm not sure why anyone would even do that.

"I think someone has contacted Kick it Out and the whole thing has got a bit out of control."

Carlisle boss Keith Curle, one of seven black and ethnic minority managers in the top four divisions in England, said he could not see any racial element to people dressing up as the late singer.

Hartlepool are one point above the relegation zone with two matches to play, the first at home to Exeter on Saturday.

Pearson said: "We've been dressing up for eight or nine years now.

"We are fighting against relegation and decided we wanted to have a good time and create a good atmosphere and hopefully it will rub off on the players."

Last season Hartlepool fans went to the last game of the season at Plymouth Argyle dressed as Thunderbirds, 12 months after wearing penguin outfits to Crawley.

"The Carlisle game is a local derby and we could still get relegated," Pearson said. "Two weeks ago they were in the same position and the potential for trouble was huge.

"I'd like to think that 300 of us dressing up can only take some aggression away from the fixture."

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