Footballer Robert Grant said racial slur accusation came from a ‘misunderstanding,’ court hears
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Championship footballer Robert Grant claims Daggers’ defender Gavin Hoyte “misunderstood” when he thought the striker had used a racial slur against him on a club anti-racism day, a court heard.
Grant, who now plays for Championship-side Blackpool, allegedly shouted “get off you stupid coon” after his opponent trod on his toe during a match at Dagenham and Redbridge FC’s ground in Victoria Road, Dagenham, when Grant was at Rochdale FC.
But, stood in the dock at Snaresbrook Crown Court today, the 23-year-old from Enstone Avenue, Liverpool, told Judge William Kennedy that he used a different non-racial insult, that also began with a c, to express his pain.
“I pushed Gavin off and called him a stupid c***.
“He turned around and said ‘What have you just called me? A coon?’ I said no.”
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The jury then heard how the two faced-off just minutes later when they both jumped for a header in the dying moments of the game and Hoyte came off worst, leading the defender to accuse Grant of racism and to make a complaint to the referee.
During a phone call between the two players later that day, prompted by their respective managers, Grant told Hoyte: “You have massively misunderstood what I have said,” though racial abuse allegations were still made against him.
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Prosecutor Oliver Wellings said Grant had “come up with an excuse during the game” to change what he had said, but the striker claimed he corrected Hoyte immediately after the incident and had no time to think up an excuse.
He added in his defence: “I have black friends, I have black team mates. It isn’t in my nature.”
Grant also strenuously denied a suggestion by the prosecution that he lost his temper in the heat of the moment during a competitive football game and, against his normal nature, reached for a racial slur.
One witness, ground maintenance staff David Baisden, claimed to have heard the word “coon” said on the pitch from his seat near the halfway line, but could not identify who said it.
Grant denies the charge of racially aggravated intentional harassment.
The case continues.