Stevenage boss Dino Maamria issues public invitation to Lewis Hamilton to attend a Boro game after F1 star's 'slums' slur
PUBLISHED: 16:35 20 December 2018
Stevenage boss Dino Maamria has issued a public invitation to Lewis Hamilton to attend a home game at the Lamex as a way of showing solidarity with his hometown after the Formula 1 World Champion's ill-advised comments this week.
Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton came under fire for describing his hometown of Stevenage as ‘the slums’ during a speech at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show on Sunday.
The five-time F1 world champion was speaking on stage after being announced as one of the six finalists for the award.
Reflecting on his career so far and his chances of overtaking Michael Schumacher as the most successful racing driver of all-time, Hamilton said to co-presenter Gabby Logan: “It really was a dream for us all as a family to do something different. For us to get out of the slums.”
Hamilton quickly corrected himself by saying: “Well, not the slums, but to get out of somewhere and do something.
“We all set our goals very, very high.”
However Boro boss Maamria showed sympathy for the star.
Speaking at the club’s training ground Bragbury End on Thursday afternoon the charismatic 46-year-old said: “I was surprised by the choice of words but I think his intention was better than that. I think his intention was that nothing is impossible and he’s made his way to the top.
“But using the word slum I think he regretted that and apologised for that I think as a town we’re far from that, we’re proud of the town, proud of the football club. This town brought in not just Lewis Hamilton but a lot of good people I think there are artists from Stevenage, there’s popstars from Stevenage, there’s Premier League players from Stevenage, so this town produced a lot of good people, a lot of celebrities that’s what I think is possible for the young generation of Stevenage, that’s what I read from it.
Hamilton’s ill-judged comment created a social media frenzy, with many from the town incensed at his derogatory words.
Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, tweeted: “Disappointing that @LewisHamilton chose to use this event to make negative comments about his home town. Nowhere is perfect but we’ll go high and say we are #ProudofStevenage.”
Stevenage was designated the UK’s first New Town in 1946. Devised as a radical solution to London’s post-war housing crisis, it now has a population of about 90,000.
Footballer Ashley Young, golfer Ian Poulter and actor Leslie Phillips also hail from the town.
Maamria was quick to praise the 33-year-old F1 star adding that his wife and her family are good friends with the Hamilton’s.
He added: “I don’t think we should be too harsh on Lewis Hamilton, we should be proud of him and of what he’s achieved and I think if there’s one thing on Lewis Hamilton is that he comes from a good grounded family,
“I think it was out of character for him to say that so if he’s listening I want to tell him that I want him to come to the Lamex and support us for one of our games.
“If you want to really say sorry about it comes and support us, I invite him personally.”
Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas ultimately won the SPOTY award, with Hamilton finishing in second place in the public vote.