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See no evil, hear no evil from Club 1872 as they target Lennon over ‘ear cupping’

Neil Lennon

Rangers supporters group, Club 1872, has called for the police and football authorities to punish Hibernian manager Neil Lennon for celebrating his team’s goals on Saturday.

The group claimed that the former Celtic manager made ‘various inflammatory gestures’ to Rangers fans during Hibernian’s 3-2 win at Ibrox on Saturday.

Their statement, read: “Club 1872 would like to commend the restraint of the Rangers support following a clear attempt by Hibernian manager, Neil Lennon, to incite trouble at yesterday’s game at Ibrox.

“Rangers and Club 1872 are always keen to remind our supporters of their duty to act as ambassadors for our club but that duty is not one that applies only to Rangers supporters.

“Mr Lennon has previous for abusing and goading both Rangers staff and supporters. He seems completely unable to control himself at Ibrox. We can only speculate as to why. His actions in the dugout yesterday – where he made various inflammatory gestures to the supporters sitting directly behind the Hibernian dugout – were not becoming of any football manager, never mind one who likes to play the victim when things do not go his way. It is inexplicable that the fourth official chose to take no action against him at the time but, against the backdrop of possibly the worst refereeing performance ever seen at Ibrox, perhaps we should not be surprised.

“Mr Lennon has been extensively quoted in the media as saying that he “didn’t make a gesture”. If that quote is accurate then he is not only irresponsible but a liar.

“Had a Rangers supporter reacted to Mr Lennon’s actions yesterday then we would no doubt have been treated to further dramatic headlines about the persecution he has to suffer. Instead we have seen several media commentators make jokes about Lennon’s conduct. It is only because of the good sense of our supporters that they are in a position to do so.

“Police Scotland categorised this match as high risk due to the behaviour of Hibernian supporters at the Scottish Cup Final in 2016 when Rangers players were attacked on the pitch. Neil Lennon knew that and he knew he had a responsibility to act in an appropriate manner. He shirked that responsibility and reverted to type.

“We hope that Police Scotland will speak directly to Mr Lennon over the coming days and at the very least give him a warning over his future conduct at Ibrox. We also expect the SPFL to take action against Mr Lennon over his failed attempt to incite trouble.”

It’s a real shame that Club 1872 see fit to target Hibernian manager Neil Lennon, in their laughable statement that reeked of a spoilt brat not getting their way, for celebrating his team’s goals and subsequent victory in the face of real hatred and bile from their fellow Rangers fans.

For 90 minutes, the Northern Irishman was the target of tens of thousands of hate filled Rangers fans calling Lennon a ‘fenian bastard’, labelling him a paedo and much more. And yet, Club 1872 chose to heap praise on their fellow supporters? What restraint indeed!

The group which is nothing more than a puppet group for Dave King has failed to address the behaviour of their fellow supporters since their establishment, choose instead to point the finger of blame rather than take responsibility and address the elephant in the room – their supporters sectarianism and disgusting chants.

Lennon has a target on his back

Since Lennon moved to Scotland in 2000, after Celtic manager Martin O’Neill signed him from Leicester City, the Lurgan man has been targeted on numerous occasions.

He was sent death threats days after he signed for Celtic and subsequently quit playing for the Northern Irish national team. He was assaulted a number of times, including being attacked in the West End of Glasgow with his attackers being jailed for two years each in January 2009.

Appointed manager of Celtic in 2010, the Royal Mail intercepted packages containing bullets addressed to Lennon and Celtic players Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt in January 2011. And two months later Lennon and a number of high profile Celtic fans were sent parcel bombs.

Just five months after being the target of parcel bombs, a Hearts supporter was found guilty of a breach of the peace – after he ran from the stand to pitch side and attacked the Celtic manager during a match between the two sides in Edinburgh on 11th May 2011.

Despite video footage being beamed around the world showing quite clearly Lennon being assaulted by the Hearts supporter, he was only jailed for eight months in prison for breach of the peace, after a charge of assault, aggravated by religious and racial prejudice’ was found not proven – despite the accused admitting assaulting Lennon.

Controversial but passionate

As a player on both sides of the border, Lennon was tough, commanding and certainly passionate on the pitch. He was a born winner as a player and as a manager, winning five league titles, four Scottish Cups and two League Cups as a Celtic player – while winning three league titles and two Scottish Cups as manager of the Parkhead side.

He helped Hibernian to the Championship title last season and has now guided the Easter Road side to an unbeaten start to the season across all competitions.

However, there are elements in our game that detest Lennon for being the man that he is. Whether it is because he played and managed Celtic, that he is Catholic, that he wears his heart on his sleeve or shows his passion and desire as much as the fans do – Lennon has become a target for the boo boys, the hate filled bigots and the thugs who cross the line.

He has had a referee lie to his face over decisions made in a match and elements within the media blame him for everything that he has endured including being attacked by the Hearts fan at Tynecastle – why? Because he celebrated his team scoring a goal.

From phone-ins to the written press to TV broadcasts, Neil Lennon has been subjected to the level of spin that a Tory politician would be proud of. They claim he brings it on himself, that he should rein in his celebrations and that he should not thank his fans after the match as it would incite the home support.

I’m sorry but those supporters who are enraged with Lennon celebrating his side’s victory don’t need a reason to foam at the mouth. His mere appearance at Ibrox enraged the hate filled mob – even before Hibs scored a goal. It is in their DNA.

Respect is earned not a god given right

Just as it happened when he was Celtic manager, Neil Lennon is being used as the fall guy for Rangers fans, the club and some in the media  for a woeful performance on Saturday. Once again Pedro Caixinha has lost a big game as Rangers manager, but rather than focusing on his side’s failings he blames the referee for his dismissal of Ryan Jack – a correct red card in my opinion – and the Hibernian management team not giving him respect.

Sorry Pedro but respect is earned and no amount of ‘We are the People’ rhetoric post match will cover up the mess that you are managing. You have earned nothing and deserve nothing other than criticism over your pathetic pandering to the mob.

You make look the part with a club blazer, tie and brown brogues polished to the nines but there is only so much pish that Jim Traynor can write for you to say and for the media to churn out as their own, before the mob turns on you and that won’t be long. And no letter of recommendation from Jose Mourinho will save you when the mob turn on you.

No one likes us, we don’t care

Months after Rangers lost their Big Tax Case battle with HMRC, Scottish football fans are demanding a judicial review into their dodgy tax practices and the impact it had on the integrity of the game.

Despite the verdict, both the Scottish FA and the SPFL have given Rangers carte blanche amidst another off the field scandal as Rangers chairman Dave King was found to have broken takeover rules when he ousted the Easdale brothers from the board in March 2015.

The silence from our governing bodies is deafening, while Rangers demand that everyone moves on for the ‘good of the game’.

They have given Rangers and their fans a free rein over the past few years and that culminated in their fans being let off for their part in the riot that ensued after they were beaten by Hibernian in the 2016 Scottish Cup Final.

Like many fans they don’t like losing, but unlike others their dignity is thrown out of the window in favour of pitchforks and tiki torches – while chanting ‘We are the People’ in some sort of master race entitlement tagline.

They may have dodged their debts, they may have enforced a rewriting of their history [re. liquidation] in some quarters of the media and they may try to cover up the misconduct of their own fans, but it is apparent that Rangers fans, their fan reps and the club themselves demand that they do as they say and not do as we do.

Their ‘see no evil, hear no evil mentality’ and the impotence of our football governing bodies is a stain on our game. Their sense of entitlement is second only to their napoleon complex.

They can no longer call upon tax dodges or the Bank of Scotland to fund title success, their team on the pitch is second rate and will once again struggle to break into the top two this season. So instead of keeping their head down and getting on with the job at hand – they target, they abuse, they threaten in the hope that referees, officials, journalists and even outspoken bloggers do their bidding or remain silent.

Just like the defunct British Empire they love to sing about, Rangers are no longer the top dog in our game and their fans hate it. Deep down they know that they are no longer title challengers – before a ball is even kicked in anger. That fact is evident with bookies having paid out on Celtic winning the title already – before the season kicked off.

They may want their opponents to sit nicely and don’t celebrate goals scored against them, but there attempts to sterilise opponents is akin to another master race that stained European shores in the 20th century and those rioting over in Virginia this weekend.

Let them celebrate winning a game against Partick Thistle like they had just won the Champions League, let them celebrate a goal in a 3-2 defeat by having another mini pitch invasion. There is nothing wrong with that, cringeworthy and laughable yes, but nothing wrong with that.

And with that in mind, there is nothing wrong with a man celebrating his team scoring goals and winning a game by noising up and getting it right up fans who had abused him with disgusting and vile comments throughout the game.

If the Scottish FA and the SPFL take action against a manager ‘ear cupping’ then it makes their blatant in-action over Rangers tax dodging ever more ludicrous.

Ridding our game of its passion, of its characters and its banter will damage our game more than a club rigging competitions for over a decade.

Ear cupping is not a crime, but sectarian abuse is. Why are the condemnations of this abuse missing from the Club 1872 website?

By Andy Muirhead

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