Friday, 13 May 2011

Our game shamed again

Labour MSP Trish Godman rightfully described last night's events inside Tynecastle, in which a supporter attempted to attack Neil Lennon, as "disgusting".  However, her comment that "security at Hearts should be looked in to" are slightly wide of the mark.

It is possible that a similar incident can or could have happened at any football ground in the country.   In fact, three and a half years ago, a similar incident did take place at Celtic Park during a Champions League match when a supporter entered the field of play to taunt (I am loathe to use the word 'attack') AC Milan goalkeeper Dida.

Stepping up the security around the dugouts, or at least around the dugouts that Neil Lennon frequents, would be a smart move but other than that there does not seem to be any foolproof way of preventing people entering the field of play and surrounding areas during a football match. More bodies, sheer numbers would be a costly solution and would only minimise, not eradicate, the potential of something similar happening in the future.

Many newspapers and rolling news channels have gone with this as their top story this morning. Not only has this idiot that attempted to attack Lennon cost his club financially - money that would have been invested in youth or else used to service debt - he has tarnished the image of the club and, as Hearts fans know, this has been a problem their club has faced for a number of years now.

I was ashamed to wake up a Hearts supporter this morning.

Lennon's comments about other teams' lack of effort against Rangers recently and his touchline manner no doubt exacerbated an already volatile Tynecastle atmosphere, but this is no excuse in any way, shape or form for behaviour such as this to occur.

This is the second such incident to happen at Tynecastle in two years. Derek Riordan was subject to a similar attempted attack by a Hearts supporter immediately after scoring a penalty to put his side 1-0 up in an Edinburgh derby towards the end of the 2008/09 season. I just hope for the sake of the image of Hearts, and for that of Scottish football, that this is the last and we can get back to talking about the football, after a season of focusing on anything but.

As well as the governing bodies' inability to take the sport in the country forward, the media focus has been on such incidents as continued sectarian singing, bombs in the post and death threats, as well as fans' outrage when a manager goes on to the pitch to congratulate his team and supporters in a non-threatening manner.

Let's get back to talking about the football.

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