Before we start, this column applies to every club who has a group of supporters who can’t behave.
Hooligans, thugs, and bigots still dominate Scottish football, they haven’t gone away, they just try to be more clever in trying to get away with their criminal acts of aggression and their vile chants towards any groups that don’t follow their ‘Klan’s’ ethos.
Neil Lennon was once again the target for Hearts fans in this latest attack on the Hibs manager at Tynecastle on Wednesday night. He fits all the stereotypes despised by a group of people who still believe Great Britain has an empire and that Protestants are the chosen people.
Anyone outside that group tends to suffer their wrath on any platform they wander through. New laws and old laws mean nothing to many of these idiots who are brought up or dragged up by their parents to believe anyone not sharing their beliefs should be targeted at every opportunity for all types of abuse, physical and mental.
I was at Tynecastle the night another thug ran onto the touchline to attack the then Celtic manager Neil Lennon because he thought he was perfectly justified in showing the northern Irish Catholic that his lot won’t tolerate any banter or insubordination from the ‘wee ginger-headed bead rattler.’
‘He brings it upon himself’ another well worn piece of crap from lunatics trying to justify any piece of thuggery towards an individual who happens to wear green, is a Catholic and is associated with Celtic at any time in his career.
You can shout from the high heavens that this is not about religion, that this is merely an incident between two rival clubs with a hatred for each other in the capital city. However, you are naive if you don’t believe that Lennon is the target for an exaggerated amount of abuse because he is a roman catholic.
I would much rather Neil went into his dugout as Hibs or Celtic manager and concentrated on the game and ignored the crowd, but because he has a personality and engages with them, is this reason enough for him to be attacked and pelted with coins?
Where does it stop? Does he have to be lying in a pool of his own blood on the touchline before anyone wakes up and tackles this constant issue of the great uneducated and the indoctrinated people who show hatred towards anyone who doesn’t fit into their identikit?
Hearts are a great club and the majority of their fans are a different class. I know, because I lived in the city for twelve years and count many of them as my friends. The board, led by Ann Budge are the envy of many clubs up and down the country. She won’t stand for thuggery and she’ll act swiftly to ban this nutcase, if they can identify him or her from cctv or tv pictures.
Craig Levein was quick to condemn the coin thrower in the press conference after Wednesday’s game. He had a genuine concern for Neil’s well-being as he saw him lying on the ground. The Hearts manager has a fair bit of banter with his counterpart, but there is an underlying respect for the difficulty of managing one of the top clubs in Scotland.
Some supporters don’t understand respect and the evidence was there for all to see on Wednesday night.
The motivation behind this latest attack on Lennon is a worrying issue for the SFA, the SPFL, the League Managers Association and PFA Scotland. Are we getting to a point where managers need to have bodyguards, as Neil once had at Celtic? Do we fine the clubs for the conduct of individual supporters? Should the next Edinburgh derby be played behind closed doors?
Do we need to have even more police at category ‘A’ games to protect managers and players? if we do, you will see the costs spiral in the annual accounts.
In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s dire 0-0 draw between Hearts and Hibs, I am backing Neil Lennon and Craig Levein’s solution to coin throwers and the thug who punched Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal during the game. Lifetime ban, jail and humiliate them by making it known who they are to the public.