Neil’s Natter – Cut out sectarianism or the game will suffer

Neil Hobson

With last week’s Edinburgh derby throwing up coining, sectarian abuse, alleged assaults on players and countless other incidents – it would appear Scottish football has flown too close to the sun.

Much has been made of the Premiership’s revival; rising attendances, action packed games, and barrels of laughs from madcap incidents and Craig Levein press conferences.

It was like the old days; unfortunately some had to take the game back to 1980.

Let’s look at the charge sheet: an alleged punch on Hearts ‘keeper Bobby Zlamal, countless abuse towards Neil Lennon, and the coining of match officials.

This was far from the cut-and-thrust of a derby game, this was a dangerous reminder of the poisonous attitudes that still cling to Scottish football.

Alas this is something that will never be properly stamped out, not until the Police and the relevant governing bodies take action.

You don’t need to be the world’s greatest detective to root out and arrest the morons that were culpable for Wednesday’s flashpoints, not with the amount of cameras that were at Tynecastle.

The most troubling narrative around the game was Neil Lennon. Ever the pantomime villain in Gorgie, he turned and goaded the Hearts support following Clevid Dikamona’s late winner being ruled out for offside.

We all know what happened next. Lennon is a true pantomime villain, but when did anyone throw a coin at a performer in a panto?

What Lennon did isn’t even a fraction of the abuse he’s received on an almost daily basis for the past 18 years.

We all see it, we all hear it and we all do nothing about it every week. Scottish football professes to have a ‘strict’ rulebook about what can and can’t be said and done in a stadium.

How often do we hear sectarian songs being belted out? I’ve honestly lost count.

Nothing is done. Even with Police and an army of stewards on sight at Tynecastle, nothing was done to weed out the people belting out vile songs.

Who wants to go wading into a crowd pulling out troublemakers though, eh?

It’s not an easy situation to handle, but the guilty can’t be allowed to go on singing their bile.

As long as the authorities continue their lassiez-faire attitude towards offensive behaviour, incidents like the derby will keep on happening.

The most troubling aspect of the game is the blaming of Lennon.

If you’re so troubled about a footballer giving you a wee bit of stick back after you’ve bawled at him for 90 minutes, that it provokes you to assault him – you really aren’t cut out for the real world.

Was Lennon’s goading of the Hearts support in such a hostile atmosphere a wise move? No, of course not.

To suggest that he ought to be assaulted, over a game of football, though is simply the stuff of madness.

A thought ought to be spared for Zlamal as well, with Police reporting that a 21-year-old man has been arrested following Wednesday.

Twitter descended into its typical pit of madness after the game. A fire-storm of insults and tit-for-tat arguments.

No side is correct here. The only course of action is to take everyone guilty and hit them with lifetime banning orders.

Until a zero-tolerance approach is taken to stamping out offensive behaviour, this will happen again.

A ban of flags at football matches would also be a good start, to prevent any political messages creeping into what should be a sporting occasion.

The people I feel sorry for are the normal, law-abiding Hearts and Hibs fans who have had to endure the idiotic actions of a few.

Everyone loves a good bit of controversy, but this flew over the line in a catastrophic way.

And until something real and tangible is done to silence these idiots, I fear that trouble will continue to brew.


One thought on “Neil’s Natter – Cut out sectarianism or the game will suffer

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