Thursday, May 12, 2011

Celtic fans fight with police and chant sectarian songs

A NIGHT when Scottish football plumbed to unprecedented depths of despair.

Neil Lennon attacked by a so-called fan while inside his technical area, Celtic supporters battling police and stewards while pretending to be Irish republicans, and two sending offs that verged on the farcical. One of the most controversial seasons
ever is drawing to a close, however one last round of chaos at Tynecastle just about topped it all. 

After refereeing cover-ups, conspiracy theories and parliamentary summits to discuss Old Firm matches, season 2010/11 added another chapter to its book of infamy last night. In the 49th minute of play, Celtic's celebrations following Gary Hooper's second goal were cut short. A man leapt from Tynecastle's main stand to sprint down the track and assault Lennon. The surprised Celtic manager barely had time to react before stewards pounced on his assailant, but that did not stop Lennon swinging his boot at the flattened thug several times. In fact, twice he mistakenly connected with one of the grounded stewards as his rage took over.

Few could blame him given the letter bombs, death threats, 24-hour security and everything else he has tolerated of late. No-one should be subjected to physical abuse for simply doing their job, especially when that job is managing a football team. Where was his protection? Lennon hurled a few expletives at his attacker as he was marched down the tunnel by police and the Irishman was later described as "shaken but fine" by his assistant, Johann Mjallby.

Hearts may now be punished. It might only have been one brainless buffoon but that he emerged from a section of home supporters to attack Lennon leaves the Edinburgh club open to possible sanctions from the Scottish Football Association.

Perhaps there should also be action taken against Celtic for the equally unacceptable conduct of their supporters in the Roseburn Stand. Groups of them fought with police and stewards in the aftermath of the attack on their manager, accompanied by deafening chants of "we are the IRA". Feet and punches were swung at the local constabulary as things threatened to get completely out of control in the away end.

On the field it was actually quite the opposite. Celtic were in total command of a match they had to win to keep their SPL title hopes alive. David Obua, Hearts' Ugandan midfielder, was red carded on 32 minutes for an innocuous slap at Charlie Mulgrew.
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