ASSISTANT manager Marlon Walters revealed he had discouraged his partner from attending Worcester City’s ill-fated FA Vase trip to Atherstone Town over fears of being racially abused.

Walters was among City staff who were taunted and had objects thrown at them, including cans containing alcohol, by Adders fans during the tie on February 8.

Manager Ashley Vincent alleged his right-hand man had a lit cigarette thrown at him with Walters posting on Twitter later the same day to say he had been racially abused.

Atherstone manager Scott Rickards, who led his side to within two rounds of a Wembley final with a penalty shootout win over City in the replay, then resigned over more allegations of racism against the club’s fans less than a week later.

In an emotive address Walters lifts the lid on how those incidents affected him at the time and since, calling for stronger action and warning good people could be lost to the game unless more gets done.

“I’m a big man, I can handle a lot things life throws at me but of course I was disappointed with some of the comments I heard from behind the dugout,” said Walters.

“It is upsetting to see the faces of some of the players and staff when these comments fly around, some of them were horrific. I was called a monkey, I had beer and cider cans thrown at me, beer poured on me.

“It crossed the line and the disappointing thing was when the stewards did nothing once they had identified who they were.

“I don’t feel any player, staff, anyone at any level should have to deal with that. Why can’t those fans just be ejected from the ground? It should be a straightforward process, no one is there to be abused.

“Let’s face it, this is against the law in this country, why should it be allowed in a football ground?

“I felt gutted for people like our physio and club secretary, me and the gaffer can handle it but other people feel for us and I feel bad for them. It is unfair for them to be subjected to it.

“People have this perception that only people of colour are affected, that’s absolute nonsense, we are a multicultural team and everyone was offended and quite upset by it.

“When you are so close to these people it can be hard to control your emotions. We did well with that but something has to be done so people don’t have to tolerate it.

“We both (Walters and Vincent) told our partners not to come to that game because Atherstone has a reputation for it. Why should our families be subjected to that? Something needs to be done now.

“Clubs need to be kicked out of competitions or heavily fined and fans need to be identified and stopped from going to grounds.

“They cannot be allowed to go to football clubs across the country to ruin a game that is there for everyone to play or be a part of.

“Allowing people to continue in this way puts that in jeopardy.”

Walters was quick to sympathise with “terrific guy” Rickards having seen an old sparring partner from the non-league circuit miss out on a shot at Wembley.

“Scott, his assistant (Mike Fowler) and his team were incredibly respectful and apologised about the stuff that went on. They were fantastic,” said Walters.

“He apologised during and after the game, he messaged Ash as well. He got back in touch to say it had happened again and that he couldn’t stay with a club that is going to accept it.

“I am gutted he had to do that and halt his development but it shows where we are at the moment. We are in a position where we are losing up-and-coming managers of the future.

“Two rounds from Wembley and he felt the need to do that? In one way it is brilliant but on the other hand why should he have to do that due to a lack of action and silly, narrow-minded people?

“All I hope is that this is a massive wake-up call that this cannot continue.”

The events inevitably dominated social media, particularly after Walters delivered his side of the story, but exposing the problem proved a mixed blessing.

“I had so many direct messages via Twitter and Instagram, texts, everything,” said Walters.

“My partner follows Worcester City’s Twitter when she isn’t at games, she is of white and Asian ethnicity and was gutted I had to deal with that.

“I put something on Twitter myself to raise awareness that yes, even big Marlon who has played 600 non-league games and won a few things has been affected by it.

“To then explain it all to my mum, my partner, my nephew was not nice because we are all human, we all have emotions.

“I look at my little lad kicking a ball and I question whether I want him involved. Do I want him to be subjected to all of this?

“We talk passionately enough about it and say it should not be a part of football but it is and it is getting worse. I don’t know whether we are doing enough collectively.

“It is difficult to switch off from it but I am surrounded by great people at the club, they hold me up and I am a big strong man who cracks on and gets on with it.

“There are concerns about how we deal with it moving forward but if it doesn’t affect my family, I am okay.

“I feel a bit more for my players and staff than I do for myself and I know it is the same for the gaffer. We have broad shoulders and it is not a problem for us as men.

“Could I handle it every week? Probably not but at least it does not happen often and I would not expect it come again to that level.”

And while the spectre of racism remains ever present, Walters at least takes heart from City’s response – on and off the field.

“The players and staff made me proud,” he added.

“At the time there was an opportunity to go further in the cup and I was happy with how they just got on with it.

“Focusing on football matters and staying united with the staff and the club is what we’ll do.

“I also had so many direct messages from Worcester fans, it was overwhelming so I thank them for taking the time to get in touch. I am so grateful.”