Prison staff organised a special football match to commemorate Black History Month.

The game was part of a wider celebration amid events at the Verne Prison on Portland to mark the month.  

The idea for the 11-a-side game was coined by both Governor George McAllister, Head of Safer Custody and Equality, and Physical Education Instructor Terry Oldrid.

A total of 38 prisoners took part in the game and were divided into two teams.

Every player was given a special football shirt with the names of different iconic black football players, both male and female, on the back.

The shirts also bore the number 75 – a nod to the 75th anniversary of HMT Empire Windrush arriving in Britain. 

Dorset Echo:

Mr Oldrid said: “This was more than a football match.

"We often have football matches for staff and prisoners throughout the year, but Governor McAllister really wanted us to tie it to Black History Month in some way and that’s why we came up with the idea of the shirts.

“All the players were desperate for the Pele shirt. One prisoner, Michael, gave a speech at the start of the game. He told three inspiring stories about iconic black football players and their various struggles and achievements,” he added.

Mr Oldrid went on to say that it was Michael’s idea to include the number 75 on the shirts.

The game finished 6-6 before the blue team won on penalties 5-4.

“There was a brilliant atmosphere, everyone was buzzing at the end and I think it meant a lot for our black prisoners that we had taken the time to acknowledge and recognise such an important time of year,” Mr Oldrid said.

Dorset Echo:

Throughout October, Governor McAllister organised history lectures, played films and documentaries on Black History, held a poetry concert and served specialist cultural food in the staff mess and prison kitchen.   

HMP The Verne Governor David Bourne said: “I’m really proud of the changes we’ve made at HMP The Verne in the last couple of years.

"We have seen first-hand how important it is to have a diverse workforce, particularly one that reflects the wider prison population."

The governor went on to say that he wants The Verne to be a welcoming place for both staff and prisoners, regardless of their ethnicity, language, religion or skin tone.

“We’ve made a conscious effort to recruit more staff from diverse backgrounds but are always looking to do more in this area,” he said.

“It was really important to mark Black History Month in some way and I was so pleased when George and Terry came up with the idea for a football match.”