Neil Lennon on that death threat…

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Neil Lennon’s forthcoming autobiography will contain, amongst other things, his reflections on the period where he was forced to stop playing for Northern Ireland. An extract is published in the Guardian today – given how much the rest of us talk about what happened to him, it’s probably worth reading his views!

“From the moment I went on to that pitch to play against Norway I was the target of an unremitting chorus of abuse. In a half-empty stadium, the noise seemed to amplify and at times it seemed as though it was the only sound to be heard. Deep down, it was the sheer scale of things which upset me. Later, people would try to play down what happened, saying it was only a minority in the crowd who had hurled abuse. There wasn’t a massive crowd at the game, maybe 7,000 or so, and the minority might only have been 500 or 600, but to me the proportion booing me didn’t matter – one per cent would have been too much.

“Now I have been booed and jeered many times – just about every time I play for Celtic away from home. I had heard anti-Catholic songs being sung at Windsor Park internationals before but, like most Catholic players, played on and ignored them. The fact is you do not mind being booed by the opposition fans or even your own supporters if you are having a stinker. But this was something else again and was, I believe, completely premeditated. I had played 35 times for my country before that night and had a good relationship with most fans, who knew I gave my all for Northern Ireland. So what had happened to make things so different? Answer: I now played for Celtic.”

  • Realist

    The extract quoted in the Guardian is reflective of the truth of the matter.

    It was, without doubt, the lowest point for me (and there have been many lows) in supporting Northern Ireland for nearly forty years.

    Absolutely cringeworthy and sickening, and which led directly to many fan driven changes.

    An interesting quote from Neil should also be highlighted.

    “Not only could I hear the jeering, but I could also see people in the stands arguing and gesticulating at each other. Sections of the home crowd were having a go at their fellow supporters who were abusing me and nobody was paying much attention to proceedings on the pitch.”

    Rows were breaking out all around me that night when the abuse directed at Neil started.

    At the end of the game, a pocket of Northern Ireland fans on the Kop gathered in front of the TV cameras to vociferously declare their support for Neil – much to the disgust of some of the assembled knuckledraggers.

    An interesting aside to the abuse that Neil got was that our legendary centre half, Gerry Taggart, refused to appear for the second half of the game in a show of solidarity with Neil.

    It was a sad, sad (and somewhat surreal) night.

    The perpetrators of the abuse against Neil are the real enemies of the IFA – not wanted and not needed.

  • bertie

    Indeed Realist. What sorry excuses for human beings.

  • Aaron_Scullion

    Agreed about that quote Realist – I was going to put that as well, but the post was getting too long..

  • Anna Dale

    “The perpetrators of the abuse against Neil are the real enemies of the IFA – not wanted and not needed.”

    Agreed.

  • austin

    “Not only could I hear the jeering, but I could also see people in the stands arguing and gesticulating at each other. Sections of the home crowd were having a go at their fellow supporters who were abusing me’

    Brave of these fans to stand up to the thuggish element and it is a great tribute to these fans that the NI support has been greatly tranformed for the better.They make a great noise and all for the right reasons.

    By make of an apology to Neil, wouldn’t it be great to invite him along for a pre-match presentation at one of the next home games?

  • Billy

    Realist

    As a Catholic, I have rightly condemned the (pre-Lennon) IFA on this site on a few occasions. However, I must admit that I didn’t know about the arguments between the pro and anti-Lennon factions or the demo on the Kop.

    Fair play to you – and it does indeed seem that the NI support has moved on quite a lot since then.

    As you rightly say:

    The perpetrators of the abuse against Neil are the real enemies of the IFA – not wanted and not needed.”

    One thing that did upset myself and a lot of Catholics at the time were the comments from Sammy McIlroy. Neil Lennon says that he doesn’t think that McIlroy meant them the way they were interpreted.

    Frankly I disagree, I am aware of McIlroy’s background and attitudes – he was beloved by the old Billy Boy brigade and played to them. I think his comments were an attempt to gloss over the issue and did more harm than good.

    His subsequent actions showed that he was hardly loyal to NI and some of his subsequent comments showed a bad case of sour grapes against Lawrie Sanchez.

    I think NI football (on and off the pitch) is better off without him.

  • http://seamusryan.blogspot.com Seamus Ryan

    True this was a low point in Irish Football. Sport should be above all of this. Interesting to read Neil’s own account of the incident. I hadn’t come across it before.

  • Ireland Unfree

    The NI team should, along with Rangers, be kicked out of all competitive football as they represent the unreconstructed, unreformed face of bigotry. The NI football team is the UVF/UFF/UUP/DUP at play. There is nothing on the Catholic/progressive side that equates with this. NI and Rangers are the axis of evil. Do the Rangers fans stil give the Nazi salute by the way?

  • http://search.everythingulster.com beano

    Is it just me finds the low comment count on this thread strange given the number of people who delight in mentioning the incidents described above on any other thread related to Northern Ireland football?

  • austin

    Beano,
    I think that the low comment count can primarily be attributed to a reluctance of NI fans wishing to revisit one of the less savoury episodes of their history.

  • Aaron_Scullion

    beano – i agree, it’s very interesting/surprising

  • spice girl

    considering the high number of catholics that now play for Linfield and Rangers, hopefully this type of thing is neering an end. As Lennon said himself, it wasn;t until he joined Celtic that it became a major issue. It would be interesting to see a Rangers player turn out for ROI!

  • Realist

    “By make of an apology to Neil, wouldn’t it be great to invite him along for a pre-match presentation at one of the next home games?”

    Austin,

    I think Neil is in Belfast this weekend for a book signing – not sure whether he will be attending the game at Windsor v Iceland on Saturday afternoon or not?

    I don’t feel the true fans have to apologise for anything – we repeatedly displayed and voiced our support for Neil in the aftermath of the Norway debacle. Banners etc.

    I’ll not be apologising on behalf of a relatively small group of neanderthals (including several who travelled from Scotland for the Norway game) who abused Neil.

    Our aim is to make sure that those who abused Neil know that they will not be allowed to drag the name of Northern Ireland fans into the gutter ever again, and threaten our very existance.

    Whoever pulls on the green shiort of Northern Ireland should have the full support of all true Northern Ireland fans.

    Whilst it took the Lennon incidents to arouse the IFA and most Northern Ireland fans from their slumbers – ambivilance to sectarianism – a bridge has now been crossed.

    It is a bridge that we do not intend going back over again.

    The message is simple. If anyone believes thyat their “support” of a cross community Northern Ireland team is an expression of their “Protestantism”, “Loyalism” or other such things, they need to think again. It is solely about supporting footballers from this part of the world – regardless of their religion or politics.

    It is now a joy to attend Northern Ireland games – win, lose or draw.

  • JR

    “It would be interesting to see a Rangers player turn out for ROI!”

    I as a nationalist supporter of Irish Republic football team would like to see an Irish player on the Rangers team. This would be another step forward in modernising our thinking of each other.

  • bertie

    Realist

    I would expect that those who most think that he is due an apology are those who don’t own him one.

  • Anna Dale

    “I think that the low comment count can primarily be attributed to a reluctance of NI fans wishing to revisit one of the less savoury episodes of their history”

    Austin,

    I note that your comment was made at 0525 am.

    I’d attribute the *paucity* of comments at that stage down to the fact that most of us, (in Northern Ireland that is), would be firmly in the land of nod at 0525am GMT, rather than worrying too much about rushing to make a response to your assumption.

    Anyway, I think in the extract of Neil’s (or to be more exact, of his ghost writer’s) book, it is quite clear that he (as opposed to the b1g0ts and begrudgers) had no difficulty differentiating between “the minority” (his words) who shamefully abused him and the others, who continued to give him their full support.

    It would appear from your earlier comment that you believe in the principle of “collective responsibility”, by which all members of one group are assumed responsible for and should be punished for the sins of a minority within that group?

    If you do, then would you also believe that every GAA supporter is guilty of supporting Republican paramilitarianism, simply because the Antrim GAA thought it was OK to rent their ground for a commemoration of dead Republican paramilitaries?

    I don’t and hopefully you don’t either.

    So, if it’s OK with you, I’ll only apologise for those crimes for which I am personally guilty. Anything morally wrong with that stance do you think?

  • Nobody Knows

    ”The NI team should, along with Rangers, be kicked out of all competitive football as they represent the unreconstructed, unreformed face of #######. The NI football team is the UVF/UFF/UUP/DUP at play. There is nothing on the Catholic/progressive side that equates with this. NI and Rangers are the axis of evil. Do the Rangers fans stil give the Nazi salute by the way?

    Posted by Ireland Unfree on Aug 30, 2006 @ 02:42 AM”

    With the chanting of support for a now washed up Irish Republican terrorist organisation often heard sung by the celtic support, I think you may be wrong. Anyway, stone throwing gets us nowhere. When was the last time you were at Windsor Park to sample the atmosphere?

  • No Huns Here

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/europe/5011404.stm

    Ban Rangers and the NI team. They are not wanted in civilised society. They and their Nazi salutes belong in zoos or behind cages. I wonder will lthey kill any more Catholics this year for the crime of wearing a Celtic top. Or will these heroes burin out more Poles? Moe emigrants, less Huns is the answer folks.

  • dan

    It still amazes me that soccer here gets so much publicity, especially when so few bother going to the games.

  • Swamp Thing

    It never ceases to amaze me that attitudes like those of Ireland Unfree and No Huns Here (says it all really) exist in the 21st century. I’m glad those two (?) people are showing a distaste for mixing sport with religious intolerance and political bigotry…….

    I find it interesting that the press didn’t have much to say about those who stood up to the boo-boys at the time. Good news doesn’t sell papers however.

  • Ziznivy

    “It still amazes me that soccer here gets so much publicity, especially when so few bother going to the games.”

    Wanna try getting hold of a ticket for Saturday then Dannyboy? :-)

  • iluvni

    No mention of the bit where Lennon says geography is crucial in Northern Ireland, and then goes on to mention Windsor Park being in the heart of East Belfast!

    Sorry Neil, but your ghost writer has let you down badly with your failure to acknowledge the fulsome support you received from the vast majority of Northern Ireland fans, including myself, on the night, and in subsequent games.

    Pity that.

  • Realist

    Reports of the next Northern Ireland home game after the infamous night against Norway.

    http://www.ourweecountry.co.uk/Lennon1.jpg

    http://www.ourweecountry.co.uk/lennon3.jpg

    Also this quote from the BBC report of the game.

    Neil Lennon paid tribute to the Northern Ireland fans after he received nothing but cheers from the supporters in Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic.
    However, the Celtic midfielder was “gutted” by Northern Ireland’s 1-0 defeat after what he described as a “tremendous performance”.
    “I’m really sorry for the lads because the efforts they put in were magnificent.
    “But the support out there today from the fans was brilliant.
    “That is what Northern Ireland football should be all about.
    “The atmosphere today was as good as it’s ever been since I’ve been involved with Northern Ireland,” added Lennon.
    The home fans sang `There’s only one Neil Lennon’ at the end and manager Sammy McIlroy was delighted at the response of the 10,000 crowd.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    I think most Unionists have a problem understanding Loyalism.
    They’re ‘loyal’ to the crown and the UK, but they’re every bit as happy as Republicans to throw rocks and petrol bombs at the police and the army.
    If some immigrants move into their area, they’re likely to be run out on a rail for having the audacity to take jobs the locals won’t do.
    And if a talented Catholic footballer is prepared to play for the national team, they cut off their nose to spite their face by giving him insults and death threats instead of praise.
    I found the Neil Lennon episode shameful and moronic. Personally speaking if Gerry and Martin were prepared to put on the NI strip and score a few against the monsters of soccer like Liechenstein and Lituania, I’d be happy to have them. Northern Ireland is a little place of 1.7 million — we need all the help we can get.

    PS If Gerry or Martin are reading this, I should point out that they may have left it too late to be picked for the squad against Iceland, but since they seem to have thrown the toys out of the pram with the GAA, maybe they’d like to sample the beautiful game instead.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Iluvni

    “Sorry Neil, but your ghost writer has let you down badly with your failure to acknowledge the fulsome support you received from the vast majority of Northern Ireland fans, including myself, on the night, and in subsequent games.”

    I’m sure you don’t mean it to come across this way, but the above makes it sound as though you are blaming Neil Lennon for an incident in which he – surely we can all agree – was the victim?

    My memory of that dark episode was, yes, disgust at the so-called fans who haranged Lennon, but especial disgust at Sammy McIlroy – who was disgracefully equivocal when asked to back his player – and the IFA generally, who took the same line of obfuscating and saying it was “a few bad apples”.

    From all accounts things have improved substantially at Windsor, though when one sees that the temptation to blame Lennon for his having been attacked is still there, it’s very disappointing.

    Realist

    Again, I can understand your desire to defend the NI fans, but you have acknowledged that the night in question was a dark one, and that the NI support will always have a black mark against in in relation to Neil Lennon – yes this seems to backtrack from that.

    The point of your last post seems to suggest that the Lennon affair was a bit of a storm in a teacup – but I would suggest that this is a completely useless approach for true NI fans to take. True NI fans, those with the best interests of the IFA and football generally at heart, should not seek to downplay incidents such as this – on the contrary, true football fans should go completely ballistic and if anything OVERreact.

    It’s YOUR good name that gets dragged through the mud, and in case you hadn’t noticed, arguing that “I never booed anybody” is a completely useless approach.

    You said elsewhere that you’ve been following NI for 40 years – fair play. Yet I’m guessing that as an NI fan you’ve spent the last ten years or so, perpetually on the defensive?

    It’s too easy to say that Lennon’s tormentors were “not real fans”, but what does that even mean? Of those hundreds or perhaps thousands who booed Lennon, how many were at their first-ever match? How many still attend Windsor regularly? Are they the same people who shout “No surrender” during GSTQ?

    Now I know that’s not you Realist, but nor do I think it’s good enough for you to simply disassociate yourself. When faced with the Militant Tendency in the 1980s, the mainstream Labour Party didn’t just say “ah, they’re a minority, we can’t possibly be lumped in with them.” They purged the lunatic fringe that so disgraced the party as a whole.

    How does this translate to NI? Well, perhaps a more forthright recognition of how bad things used to be, and how imperfect they still are, would be a start? Perhaps if NI fans could talk about something like the Lennon case, and not seek to downplay it or, worse still, deflect blame onto Lennon himself? If they could simply accept the criticism arising from the Lennon incident and, no matter how much they might wish to, simply decline to defend themselves?

    I know, Realist, that you didn’t boo Lennon, but the fact is that NI fans collectively are blamed for it. When the time comes that NI fans collectively accept that blame, then the incident will truly be in the past.

    I know this is a very Catholic thing to suggest, but perhaps the only way for NI fans to truly break with the past and begin again is to embrace their past guilt?

    Lennon would be the ideal place to start.

  • Ziznivy

    If Realist is being defensive, perhaps it is because he is not in an internal debate within the Northern Irish support (and I’ve heard his voice constantly excoriating the bigotry that has existed within our support and still exists to a lesser extent in such debate). He is listening to his fellow supporters being pilloried once again as irreformable bigots yet again by people who have ignored every positive aspect of the Northern Ireland support in the last few years and bring the acts of a minority of fans 5 years ago to the fore on every occasion they can.

    What do you want the GAWA to do BP? Foresake green and white and dress in sack-cloth and ashes for the rest of our existence.

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “I can understand your desire to defend the NI fans”

    I defend only where appropriate and will highlight faults where appropriate also.

    “you have acknowledged that the night in question was a dark one”

    It most certainly was. It is difficult to find words to describe how I felt on the evening of the Norway game.

    “and that the NI support will always have a black mark against in in relation to Neil Lennon”

    Of course – a truly shameful episode.

    “True NI fans, those with the best interests of the IFA and football generally at heart, should not seek to downplay incidents such as this”

    On the contrary, I have related comments attributable to Neil himself.

    “true football fans should go completely ballistic and if anything OVERreact”

    Neil has highlighted the angry factions in the stands during the Norway game.

    I have posted the reaction of fans the next time Neil played for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park.

    “Of those hundreds or perhaps thousands who booed Lennon, how many were at their first-ever match?”

    Neil claims it was less than 10% of the crowd. I don’t know how many where “first timers”. I am aware that several travelled from Scotland with thespecific purpose of abusing Neil that evening.

    “Yet I’m guessing that as an NI fan you’ve spent the last ten years or so, perpetually on the defensive?”

    I work for change. In doing so, I don’t hide from the past, but also focus on the very positive changes in recent years.

    I can think of very few teams that have an element of support they would rather do without.

    I have come across many fans who would have been involved in sectarian chanting at Northern Ireland games in days gone by – it is so heartening to see them mend their ways, realise their error, and now be champions of change.

    “Now I know that’s not you Realist, but nor do I think it’s good enough for you to simply disassociate yourself. When faced with the Militant Tendency in the 1980s, the mainstream Labour Party didn’t just say “ah, they’re a minority, we can’t possibly be lumped in with them.” They purged the lunatic fringe that so disgraced the party as a whole”

    That’s exactly what we are trying to do. Unlike the Labour Party, Northern Ireland supporters do not “belong” to anything – they pay their money, and go to the game.

    “Well, perhaps a more forthright recognition of how bad things used to be, and how imperfect they still are, would be a start?”

    I have never hid, or shyed away from, the difficulties of the past – and the need to work hard for the sake of the future.

    “Perhaps if NI fans could talk about something like the Lennon case, and not seek to downplay it”

    I have already acknowledged earlier on the thread that Neil’s recollection of events is accurate.

    “or, worse still, deflect blame onto Lennon himself?”

    No blame at all attaching to Neil – he was the victim of the piece.

    “I know, Realist, that you didn’t boo Lennon, but the fact is that NI fans collectively are blamed for it. When the time comes that NI fans collectively accept that blame, then the incident will truly be in the past”

    So, you would argue that ALL members of the GAA should accept the blame for recent events in Dungiven and Casement Park?

    I don’t.

    “I know this is a very Catholic thing to suggest”

    I don’t knoqw what this means, and care less what brand of the Christian religion, if any, you are.

    “but perhaps the only way for NI fans to truly break with the past and begin again is to embrace their past guilt?”

    I believe that what happened to Neil was the dynamic for many Northern Ireland fans to get up of their arses and work for change.

    Why should I, and 90% of Northern Ireland fans, be labelled on account of the actions of a minority of sectarian imbeciles?

    The majority aim to ensure that the minority are given no space to vent their sectarianism – as typified by the abuse Neil took against Norway.

    That is work I have no guilt complex at all about – on the contrary, I am proud of it.

  • nmc

    Ziznivy,

    don’t you think it’ll take a little time to forget about this?

    I have never supported or attended a N.I. game, and as I said on another thread, I was personally subjected to sectarian abuse a couple of times, in around three years ago when living off the Lisburn Road. This was the result of being out and about with a ROI top on when NI had a home game on.

    I would say that I’ve listened to what others have to say on here on the other GAWA thread, and have tried to keep an open mind. It’s all been very encouraging, and I like to approach most topics on this site with the idea that I may have my mind changed by the quality of the arguments from what might be called “themmuns”. I have been brought round a few times.

    This is all background to the original question, how long do you think is a suitable amount of time to forget the past? In a hypothetical, if you were subjected to sectarian abuse from ROI fans, and you lived next to Lansdowne, how long before you would feel welcome at a ROI game?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Zizivny

    “If Realist is being defensive, perhaps it is because he is not in an internal debate within the Northern Irish support.”

    I think that’s a very, very good point, and I accept it.

    “He is listening to his fellow supporters being pilloried once again as irreformable ###### yet again by people who have ignored every positive aspect of the Northern Ireland support in the last few years and bring the acts of a minority of fans 5 years ago to the fore on every occasion they can.”

    Some people are pillorying the NI support, and those people will never be satisfied, that’s true. Screw them. They have no more positive a contribution to make than do those who booed Neil Lennon. However that doesn’t detract from the fact that many of the criticisms made against the NI support as a whole are valid. (Yes, it was a minority who booed Lennon, and yes, a minority stood up to that minority. But would anyone pretend that the reaction of the silent majority was good enough? My personal opinion, and that’s all it is, is that Lennon quit the NI team not because of the cat-calling “fans” but because the response from McIlroy, Wells etc simply wasn’t good enough.)

    “What do you want the GAWA to do BP? Foresake green and white and dress in sack-cloth and ashes for the rest of our existence.”

    I want them to keep doing what they’re doing, but I want them to up the ante. I would acknowledge that progress has been made, but surely you would acknowledge that we’re still a long way from a situation where sectarianism has become a thing of shame at Windsor.

    I remember being at the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 and marching with hundreds of other Irish, British, French and Italians. We were aware that earlier in the day there had been reports of banks and businesses being trashed by anti-capitalist demonstrators and we resolved on a course of action if we saw anything like that.

    During the main demonstration (300,000 people – Jesus, the hair stands on the back of my neck just thinking about it!) the march passed a Banca Italiana and true enough, there were a few dozen Black Bloc anachists trashing the place. We all stopped walking (and therefore the few hundred thousand behind us all had to stop too) and pointed at them. And we all started shouting: “Shame, shame, shame!” At first the Black Bloc guys ignored us. Then they stopped and stared at us but clearly didn’t know what to do. Then they started shouting abuse. Then one of them threw a brick at us. The brick hit a guy on the head – a fifty-something trade unionist from Cork. He got up, gash on forehead, and started again, shouting “shame!” The Black Bloc guys went mad and trashed the place even harder for another minute or two, but soon everyone as far as we could see behind us in the parade was shouting “Shame!” at them too. So they left the premises and took off their distinguishing black scarves etc and skulked away – in shame.

    THAT’S how you deal with ugly minorities in your midst.

    So you ask what I would like to see NI fans do? Now you know.

  • Mike

    The two matches, when Neil Lennon was booed, and when he received the death threat as he was about to captain Northern Ireland, were very dark days for NI football, and profoundly depressing for NI supporters.

    Both “incidents” were unequivocally a disgrace, and sickening to those of us who have been supporting our team for years, and do not care what club a NI player plays for, or anything else bar what he does on the pitch for our team.

    However, there were encouraging signs. The great majority of NI fans rallied round Neil (take note Billy Pilgrim) and (verbally) laid into the scumbag minority in the strongest possible terms. People stodd up against them, as Neil’s book alludes to.

    The major bright spot in all of this for me (and sadly not even mentioned in Neil’s book – not ‘sexy’ enough for the ghost-writer, or not signnificant enough to Neil himself, I don’t know – certainly even before this book it had all but been airbrushed from history) was that at the next home match, against the Czech Republic, there was not one ‘boo’ to be heard, Neil was cheered and fans sang his name. (See the newspaper articles posted by Realist on the previous page). I remember standing outside the ground selling a fanzine with a front page cover of Neil in his NI shirt and Celtic shirt – not a word asid against this, only encouragement. It felt like we had won – the NI support and Neil both, putting the Super Prod wankers (‘scuse my language) in their place and shutting them up.

    Then came along the scumbag in the phone box to do his bit “for Ulster” and end Neil’s international career.

  • iluvni

    My comment:
    “Sorry Neil, but your ghost writer has let you down badly with your failure to acknowledge the fulsome support you received from the vast majority of Northern Ireland fans, including myself, on the night, and in subsequent games.”

    Billy Pilgrim’s reply:
    “I’m sure you don’t mean it to come across this way, but the above makes it sound as though you are blaming Neil Lennon for an incident in which he – surely we can all agree – was the victim? ”

    Absolute bollocks. There is absolutely nothing in my comment to ‘make it sound like I blame Neil Lennon’ for the incident.
    My comment makes it clear that I, along with the majority at Windsor that night AND in subsequent games, fully backed Neil Lennon, and opposed the knuckledraggers 100%.
    I feel though that Lennon should have made it clear that the majority did indeed back him and should have ensured that was included in his book.

    (and in saying all this I’ve only read a few selected extracts, so if it is in there somewhere and I’ve got it wrong I’ll eat humble pie)

  • Ziznivy

    I have been subjected to sectarian abuse by RoI fans. I have also been subjected to sectarian abuse by Celtic fans. This was because of my support for Northern Ireland in South Belfast. I’ve not drawn any conclusions about those sets of fans from either incident. I appreciate that thugs and idiots are present in all walks of life and have many interests, including football.

    I’m sorry you suffered abuse wearing a RoI top near Windsor. Having said that I can’t think of any football ground or its vicinity in the world where a fan would expect to saunter through supporters who are close rivals without comments being made. Regrettable maybe, but also realistic.

  • Mike

    Billy –

    How exactly do you think the sectarian singing of yesteryear has been stopped?

    And by the way, I would say most poeple going along to football matches don’t want to have to confront a nasty minority, be they sectarian, racist, hooligan, or whatever. However an ‘activist’ core will want to, and the ‘silent majority’ can become not so silent in vocally backing their efforts to transfrom things – voting with their voices, as it were. That is what, in my mind, happened at NI matches.

  • Realist

    nmc,

    Are there many of us in Northern Ireland who haven’t been subjected to sectarian abuse from the “other side” at some time in our lives?

    If I had a £1 for every time I have been called a “dirty Orange bastard” (I’m none of the three, by the way), I could work a bit less.

    Sometimes this has been in direct consequence of the serious crime of wearing a green Northern Ireland shirt. Who is the bigot there?

    Should I blame the whole of the nationalist community for that – or just the sick, odious individuals for whom such abuse is a way of life?

    Should I turn my back on my nationalist / republican friends because of the actions of those who claim the same label as them?

    Should I tell my GAA playing pals that I’ll not be socialising with them again because of recent events in Dungiven and Casement?

    When a republican activist I went to college with (many years ago now) sorted out a “problem” for me, whereby my name was being displayed on blackboards etc, with accompanying death threats on account of my support for a particular football club, should I have said “fuck off ***, you’re as bad as them”?

    When I partake in cross border fans’ matches with ROI fans, should I tell them it has to stop because of the actions of a small minority of their fans against Israel, or because there’s an element of “Up The Ra” folk who attach themselves to the ROI team, and like to start the “rebel tunes” when following the team?

    Should YOU feel guilty about those I refer to?

    I don’t think so – good and bad people in all walks of society.

    My years of supporting Northern Ireland have been characterised by coming across many sectarian bigots, and many, many more decent lads and lassies, young and old, who just want to watch a team of footballers representing our part of the world.

    I have made lifelong friendships with many great people – people who much prefer football to politics.

  • nmc

    Ziznivy,

    True, I was wearing it in the town then came home with it on. I was crapping myself.

    My point is that a lot of people still feel a lack of confidence that they couldn’t go to a NI game, due to the small amount of time since the events mentioned in my previous post, and in the title of this thread. It takes time to forget, but in the end that’s what has to happen, and if the opinions expressed on the threads here are anything to go by, then it’s just a matter of time. I still feel that it is wrong to look on people negatively because they have not forgotten already, it’s only been a short while.

  • nmc

    Realist,

    Point taken.

    If I had a £1 for every time I have been called a “dirty Orange bastard” (I’m none of the three, by the way)

    Laughed at that…

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “I have come across many fans who would have been involved in sectarian chanting at Northern Ireland games in days gone by – it is so heartening to see them mend their ways, realise their error, and now be champions of change.”

    That sounds very encouraging.

    “That’s exactly what we are trying to do. Unlike the Labour Party, Northern Ireland supporters do not “belong” to anything – they pay their money, and go to the game.”

    I understand. I wish you well in your efforts and hope things continue to improve.

    “So, you would argue that ALL members of the GAA should accept the blame for recent events in Dungiven and Casement Park?”

    Actually, the more pertinent question is this: have you heard anyone say of those incidents, “I’m a member of the GAA, but this has nothing to do with me?”

    Neither have I.

    “I don’t know what this means, and care less what brand of the Christian religion, if any, you are.”

    You’ve never heard of Catholic guilt? I suppose I was trying to suggest to you a possible difference in philosophical approach here.

    After that deplorable night, the IFA and Sammy McIlroy responded in a way that, to them, probably seemed satisfactory but that, to most Catholics in NI including Lennon himself, seemed like pure hand-washing. Lennon needed and deserved their unequivocal backing and he didn’t get it – and it was this, not the booing itself, that caused him to in turn wash his hands of NI after the very next match. (That’s right, isn’t it? He played one more game and then quit?)

    Clearly there was a fundamental difference between what they considered an appropriate response.

    “I believe that what happened to Neil was the dynamic for many Northern Ireland fans to get up of their arses and work for change.”

    I dearly hope history will vindicate this.

    “Why should I, and 90% of Northern Ireland fans, be labelled on account of the actions of a minority of sectarian imbeciles?”

    Like it or not, you ARE labelled on that basis. It may seem unfair, but there you have it. NI football fans are not unique in being judged according to their worst features – left-wing activist groups are easily labelled as violent, on account of one percent of their number. Irish republicanism (FF, FG, PDs, SDLP etc) is often conflated with the IRA – again, a tiny fraction of the whole. Jesus, even a good-looking person with a wart on their nose is going to have attention disproportionately concentrated on that worst feature.

    Hey, that’s life. Question is, are you going to just pretend that the wart is nothing to do with you? Because if you choose that path, your problem will never be solved.

    “The majority aim to ensure that the minority are given no space to vent their sectarianism – as typified by the abuse Neil took against Norway. That is work I have no guilt complex at all about – on the contrary, I am proud of it.”

    I remember being among 70,000 at Croke Park last year for the Ulster final, before which there was a minute’s silence for the 7/7 victims. During that minute, three people shouted out, one of which was a pro-IRA slogan. Three out of 70,000 broke the silence. One out of 70,000 shouted something sectarian. I wasn’t proud that 69,997 people didn’t shuot anything. I wasn’t proud that 69,999 refrained from shouting sectarian abuse. I was absolutely outraged and ashamed that ANYONE did. So was everyone else around me in the stadium.

    Come on Realist – embrace the guilt! Embrace it and set yourself free!

  • Ziznivy

    BP. I agree that it is not possible to do enough in opposition to an odious minority like those who booed Lennon. I think your comparison with an anti-globalisation activist rally is slightly ridiculous though. There is a substantial difference between a crowd gathered to watch sport and a crowd gathered for a political cause, both in motivation and responsibility.

    I’d be interested to know what Sammy said that you take issue with. In my recollection he gave Neil his full support, as did the IFA. Howard Wells was not employed by the organisation at the time I would hasten to add.

    Finally to grind our teeth about the efforts of fans to self-police at the time of the Lennon incidents is crying over spilt milk. What Northern Ireland fans realise though is that that incident sparked a greater willingness to assume responsibility and influence the bad elements. Yes, that tendency cannot be encouraged enough, but I for one think it’s wonderful that UEFA have acknowledged the huge strides with their recent award.

  • Mike

    Billy –

    I would suggest a much more useful approach, rather than to say to the Robin Livingstones and Tony Fearons of this world, “Hey, you were right all along, I am an evil sectarian bigot after all, well spotted”, would be to stand up to the idiot minority and say “cut it out, that is not welcome here, that is not what we are about, unlike you the reat of us, the great majority, don’t want any part of your crap”. The latter apprach has been the one which has contributed to the successes so far of the anti-sectarianism campaign.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Mike

    “The great majority of NI fans rallied round Neil”

    I accept this Mike. All I’m saying is, not good enough.

    “The major bright spot in all of this for me was that at the next home match, against the Czech Republic, there was not one ‘boo’ to be heard.”

    But don’t you see, that’s not something that deserves particular praise? That’s just, well, normal. Fans are supposed to cheer their team. They aren’t supposed to boo them.

    “It felt like we had won…”

    I congratulate you, but I would suggest that you are perhaps overly quick to declare victory. You should beware of Bush-style “Mission Accomplished” moments. The knuckle draggers haven’t gone away you know!

    “Then came along the scumbag in the phone box to do his bit “for Ulster” and end Neil’s international career.”

    See?

    I think the IFA and NI fans generally should take their cue from the old Fianna Fail election poster: “A lot done, more to do.”

    Would any NI fans disagree with that?

  • Ziznivy

    NMC

    I’m not condemning you for not forgetting those incidents yet, though I hope the time will come when they same an aberation from another age.

    To answer your original question, the time it takes for one to forget any negative incident is a subjective matter.

    What I condemn are those who rage and froth about the evils of the team and their supporters and how irreformable we are. Reasonable people who have not yet been persuaded to return to Windsor Park – I will try and persuade you but I am certainly not condemning you for that.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Iluvni

    “I feel though that Lennon should have made it clear that the majority did indeed back him and should have ensured that was included in his book.”

    See, this is what I’m talking about. Why this subtle little needle towards Lennon?

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    Thanks for relating your experiences at the G8 summit.

    Allow me to relate an example of the little ways in which Northern Ireland fans are similarly challenging what needs to be challenged.

    In Warsaw at a recent(ish) Northern Ireland game, about 100 or so Northern Ireland fans were sat in a sports bar – enjoying a bit of craic, as one does. Lots of (non sectarian) Northern Ireland songs. A few Poles were joining in, giving us renditions of their terrace chants – great fun altogether.

    One Northern Ireland fan, whom I had never seen abroad before in my life, then shouts, “Sssh lads, here’s one we all know”, before breaking into “The Billy Boys”. What colour do you think his face was when instantly he started singing he was greeted by a massed chorus of “Oh spot the looney” with everybody pointing at him?

    Do you think he might think twice about such songs amngst the Northern Ireland fans again?

    At Dalymount Park, Dublin, earlier in the year, I was priviledged to take part in a “fans match” between some ROI lads we have gotten to know, and a bunch of guys who like a drink too :-) from Northern Ireland. Great craic.

    A few locals in the Bohs members bar decided they would try and rile us a little by starting a chant of “There’s only one Neil Lennon”.

    Imagine their surprise when the Northern Ireland lads outsung them – singing exactly the same!

    Handshakes all round – football fans, from different backgrounds, enjoying each others company – changing perceptions.

    Interesting also that when Linfield FC played Shels in Dublin in the Setanta shortly after, that it was Bohs members who invited to Linfield support to utilise the facilities at Dalymount for refreshments prior to the game. Not a word in anger, plenty of laughter and shared footballing stories.

    The sectarian fuckwits can try and ruin that all they like – they will never win. Too many good blokes out there to be dragged down by neanderthals with nothing to offer but hatred – largely based on their own petty insecurities.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ziznivy

    “I agree that it is not possible to do enough in opposition to an odious minority like those who booed Lennon.”

    That’s my argument. No true football man would disagree with the thesis, in an abstract sense. Some genuine football men might, however, fail to do everything they might do, for what ever reason. If too many real football men fail to do everything they can, football will continue to fester, as it has for decades. Simple as that.

    “I think your comparison with an anti-globalisation activist rally is slightly ridiculous though.”

    I think “ridiculous” is an ungenerous word to use. I would accept that there are large differences – for example, the physical danger were were under was far greater.

    But the point is that NI football supporters CARE about NI football. Care enough to stand up to those who drag it through the mud? I suppose historians will decide.

    “I’d be interested to know what Sammy said that you take issue with. In my recollection he gave Neil his full support, as did the IFA.”

    I can’t remember the exact quote but it was something along the lines of: “Totally condemn this but…. small minority…. few bad apples” etc etc.

    I suppose here we might be running into a cultural difference. It’s like the way unionist politicians have honed the old response to loyalist violence: “I totally condemn all violence from wherever it comes, but…..” The unionist audience accepts it but nationalists feel like throwing up, such is the stench of hypocrisy.

    Perhaps the threshhold for an acceptable level of backing is higher for nationalists, I dunno. But when McIlroy started peppering his condemnations with “buts” and “few bad apples” etc, nationalists damned him for it. And I suppose that includes Neil Lennon.

    (I would add though that at the time, I remember talking to several Protestant friends and colleagues – including a former DUP councillor and NI fanatic – all of whom agreed that McIlroy’s response had been completely unsatisfactory. And indeed it was the same after the death threat, when Lennon had no end of critics for simply walking away.)

    “What Northern Ireland fans realise though is that that incident sparked a greater willingness to assume responsibility and influence the bad elements.”

    If that’s true then I am delighted to hear it. I would be even more encouraged if there were more NI fans who went “off-message” and admitted how terrible things used to be, so we had something to measure recent improvements against.

    “Yes, that tendency cannot be encouraged enough, but I for one think it’s wonderful that UEFA have acknowledged the huge strides with their recent award.”

    Agreed.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    Great post.

    “The sectarian fuckwits can try and ruin that all they like – they will never win. Too many good blokes out there to be dragged down by neanderthals with nothing to offer but hatred – largely based on their own petty insecurities.”

    Hear hear!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Mike

    “I would suggest a much more useful approach, rather than to say to the Robin Livingstones and Tony Fearons of this world, “Hey, you were right all along, I am an evil sectarian ##### after all, well spotted”, would be to stand up to the idiot minority and say “cut it out, that is not welcome here, that is not what we are about, unlike you the reat of us, the great majority, don’t want any part of your crap”.”

    You’re right. The solution is for decent NI fans to take responsibility for the problem of b1gots in their midst and deal with them, in the way we are both talking about. To do that though, those decent fans must first admit that dealing with this this ugly minority IS their responsibility. It’s the responsibility of all true NI fans. That’s life.

    We are in total agreement on the way to achieve this. Shame them. It’s not easy, I know, but it’s the best way. The ideal towards which true NI fans should be working is a situation where sectarianism is regarded as shameful at Windsor, where people keep their b1gotry to themselves because it would be too embarrassing to do otherwise.

    I applaud the fans who have make progress on this issue. All I’m saying is, remember Fianna Fail!

    (All together now….)

    “A lot done – more to do.”

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “You’ve never heard of Catholic guilt? I suppose I was trying to suggest to you a possible difference in philosophical approach here”

    :-)

    I haven’t a clue what differences there are between Catholic guilt and anybody elses guilt.

    I aim to keep it that way, without feeling guilty about it.

    “A lot done, more to do.”

    The phrase often used by Northern Ireland fans dedicated to tackling sectarianism at our matches is “work in progress”.

    I think they amount to the same thing.

    Many of those who lambast the Northern Ireland fanbase on account of the actions of an ever dwindling minority are “fans” of Glasgow Celtic -a club whose chairman, only this month, publicly acknowledged the ongoing sectarianism that accompanies of section of that clubs’ support at away matches in paricular.

    I have no doubt that the offenders represent a small minority of Celtic’s fanbase.

    Sectarianism is a cancer that affects more than the Northern Ireland fanbase – should those seeking to beat the cancer not be joining forces to fight it?

    It seems to me that many pious supporters are only happy when they are highlighting sectarianism amongst other fanbases, without taking time to remove the mote from their own eye.

    I know that many Northern Ireland fans have worked (and continue to work) tirelessly to deal with the issues within our fanbase. I salute those at other clubs who fight the same fight.

    Small victories is how the battle will be won.

    One things I feel I must share with you is the fact that many sectarian bigots, rather than be ashamed about that, are deeply proud of their sectarian ways – they have no shame about it whatsoever.

    Not a thing anyone can do about that.

    What we can do is make it absolutely clear in words and deeds that sectarianism will not find succour any longer amongst the vast majority of the Northern Ireland fanbase.

  • Anna Dale

    This is has become a lot more constructive than the usual debates on here.

    Something that Mike said about that it only takes an active minority to start the ball rolling (in a positive way), I think has been shown to be true with the fight against racism at a lot of the English clubs.

    At the English club where I’ve watched a fair bit of my football, it is extremely rare to hear any kind of racist comment now. Speaking to other people who’ve been watching a lot longer than me, it was basically a small group of fans with links to groups like the AFA and ANL that got things moving in the mid-eighties by doing the small things, like telling individual people to shut up when the ignoramuses round them started with the monkey chants or by pointing out the stupidity of jeering against, for example, John Barnes, when there were several black players in your own team. They got silent respect for their courage first of all and then after a while, the logic starts to sink in with the *silent majority” and the racists then became the ones looking stupid and isolated.
    It’s the small (achievable) things that will bring success in the end rather than the grandiose PR jobs.

    It’s also true, as I mentioned in another thread, that decent fans displayed physical as well as moral courage standing up to the bigots in the night in question and this has never really been acknowledged by outsiders

    I think where we (NI fans) are lucky is that the IFA, through the FFA and people like Michael Boyd is also being a lot more pro-active in helping to sort things out than many of the English clubs and FA were for a long time.

    Waffled a bit here, sorry!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “I haven’t a clue what differences there are between Catholic guilt and anybody elses guilt.”

    Catholics feel guilt for things we have nothing to do with. We feel guilt for all mankind. We feel guilt for having been born. I don’t think NI fans display such characteristics.

    “The phrase often used by Northern Ireland fans dedicated to tackling sectarianism at our matches is “work in progress”. I think they amount to the same thing.”

    Indeed. I wish you fair wind.

    “Many of those who lambast the Northern Ireland fanbase on account of the actions of an ever dwindling minority are “fans” of Glasgow Celtic -a club whose chairman, only this month, publicly acknowledged the ongoing sectarianism that accompanies of section of that clubs’ support at away matches in paricular.”

    I have no doubt you’re right, but you should just forget about Celtic. At the end of the day, if your own back yard is a mess, it should be of little comfort that someone else’s is too. Doesn’t sort out your yard, does it?

    “I have no doubt that the offenders represent a small minority of Celtic’s fanbase.”

    Forget all this talk about majorities and minorities. Such talk does nothing to tackle the problem. You refer to sectarianism as a cancer – good metaphor. But tell me – does it matter that cancer only affects a minority of cells in your body? Does it matter that cancer only takes hold of a minority of your vital organs? Is it of any comfort whatsoever to the majority of a person’s body that cancer only has a grip on the minority?

    Decent NI fans cannot disassociate themselves from the fans who get you all a bad name. The knuckle draggers are not separate from you – they are your own dark heart. If you accept that then you’re half way to dealing with the problem.

    (But again, that’s way of thinking is deeply rooted in Catholic teaching.)

    “Sectarianism is a cancer that affects more than the Northern Ireland fanbase – should those seeking to beat the cancer not be joining forces to fight it?”

    Yes, NI fans do not have a monopoly on sectarianism, but if NI fans are serious about tackling the sectarianism that exists within its ranks then arguing that “we’re not the only ones” is a completely useless approach to the issue.

    I’m all for everyone doing everything they can to take on sectarianism wherever they find it, and joining forces with whomever in order to achieve that end. But surely only NI fans can successfully take on sectarianism within NI football?

    Or perhaps you could suggest ways in which people like me, a lifelong GAA member, could do my bit to rid NI football of sectarianism?

    “It seems to me that many pious supporters are only happy when they are highlighting sectarianism amongst other fanbases, without taking time to remove the mote from their own eye.”

    You are undoubtedly right, but this does nothing to address the issue.

    “I know that many Northern Ireland fans have worked (and continue to work) tirelessly to deal with the issues within our fanbase. I salute those at other clubs who fight the same fight.”

    As do I.

    “Small victories is how the battle will be won.”

    Agreed. We’re talking about changing a culture here – that doesn’t happen overnight. However, if your values are rock solid, then you have a chance. It seems to me that, given all that has happened historically, NI football in the future needs to be built on quite radical anti-sectarian
    principles.

    “One things I feel I must share with you is the fact that many sectarian ######, rather than be ashamed about that, are deeply proud of their sectarian ways – they have no shame about it whatsoever. Not a thing anyone can do about that.”

    I disagree. I know people like that too, and in my experience they are proud b1gots only where they believe – rightly or wrongly – that they will find succour. Most “proud b1gots” I have met are proud because they see themselves as fearless truth-tellers, as the only ones brave enough to say what everyone else actually thinks, but is too polite or cringing to say.

    And who knows, maybe sometimes they’re right? These people CAN be shamed, but only where the anti-sectarian sentiment is real. And yes, they can tell the difference. Anti-sectarianism can’t be faked. And saying: “Sssssh, you’re embarrassing us,” isn’t going to do the trick.

    “What we can do is make it absolutely clear in words and deeds that sectarianism will not find succour any longer amongst the vast majority of the Northern Ireland fanbase.”

    My advice to you is this: stop thinking and talking about majorities and minorities. It sounds like a caveat. It’s not good enough. You should simply say: “Sectarianism will not find succour any longer amongst the Northern Ireland fanbase.”

    But congratulations on your work. You’re one of the good guys, no doubt about it.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “Catholics feel guilt for things we have nothing to do with. We feel guilt for all mankind. We feel guilt for having been born. I don’t think NI fans display such characteristics.”

    Incidentally, meant to put a :) thingy there, indicating my tongue in cheek.

    Never did master this blogging punctuation…..

  • Conor

    I’m very encouraged by the posts by the likes of realist who in particular strikes me as the type of true football fan that makes the sport ‘the beautiful game’. I’ve not been back to Windsor Park since an ugly incident in my childhood when our youth club was given free tickets to go watch NI in the late 80s, but I would commend the support on their recent efforts and congratulate them wholeheartedly on their recent award.

    As a season ticket holder of Celtic I was appalled as the next man with the treatment Neil Lennon was subjected to. I was also disappointed with the rather timid response from the IFA and Sammy Mac at the time. But I honestly don’t see how the majority of decent and well meaning NI fans could have done anything more since then and now. It’s a lot harder to get rid of knucledraggers than you would think. Telling them what you think of them doesn’t always work and can be a risky business living in the society we do.

    I’m both a nationalist and republican and therefore my ‘loyalty’ will always be with the ROI (hey, that’s politics man) but that doesn’t mean I can’t also offer my support for a team that represents a part of the island. I’m a football fan first and foremost. Windsor Park may be a bit too much for most people like myself but I have high hopes for this new stadium that’s being built. I could definitely see myself going to a game or two there in the future if things are changing as well I hope they are. Might even bring my kids…

  • austin

    Anna Dale ,
    sorry to upset your sensitivities by posting at 5.52am.(not 5.25am as you berated me for but we’ll not split hairs..)
    All I was doing was having a quick slug of coffeee and perusing good old Slugger before heading to work. This work thing’s a killer but hey the lottery’s on tonight and you never know..
    Re your comment,’So, if it’s OK with you, I’ll only apologise for those crimes for which I am personally guilty. Anything morally wrong with that stance do you think? ‘

    Err, I don’t think I made mention of any crimes at all, never mind any that you were personally guilty of.
    I would like to reiterate that the NI fans have came a long, long way in the right direction thanks to the efforts of people like realist and you. Well done for that.
    Consequently as a reaction of the much more moderate outlook to players of Lennon’s club background,, I thought it would be a fitting testimony to both players and the supporters if some type of presentation was made to Neil. I wasn’t looking at some type of communal act of atonement or repentance but rather thought that a tribute to Lennon would reflect well on the hard-won and well-deserved reputation of the supporters.
    That was all.

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    I’m sorry about the religious stuff – I’ve never really got to grips with the nuances of the small differences which seperate very similar strands of the same brand of religion – for that, I thank God! :-)

    “At the end of the day, if your own back yard is a mess, it should be of little comfort that someone else’s is too. Doesn’t sort out your yard, does it?”

    I agree entirely – that was the point I was trying to make (badly).

    “Is it of any comfort whatsoever to the majority of a person’s body that cancer only has a grip on the minority?”

    A good point, well made.

    I think it is also important to recognise when the cancer in ones body becomes regressive. It builds a confidence for the fight that still awaits ahead.

    “It seems to me that, given all that has happened historically, NI football in the future needs to be built on quite radical anti-sectarian principles”

    That is something upon much work is being done by a variety of supporters groupings.

    “These people CAN be shamed, but only where the anti-sectarian sentiment is real”

    If not shamed, they can be ostricised to a point when the penny drops for them that they are not welcome.

    “My advice to you is this: stop thinking and talking about majorities and minorities. It sounds like a caveat. It’s not good enough. You should simply say: “Sectarianism will not find succour any longer amongst the Northern Ireland fanbase.”

    Sectarianism is a societal problem – unfortunately it has manifested itself at Northern Ireland matches.

    Northern Ireland fans cannot change the problems of sectarianism in wider society – that’s for politicians to do something about. I’ll not hold my breath on that one, particularly when some who claim to represent “the unionist community” thrive on sectarianism and stoking up fear and insecurity – breeding grounds for sectarianism.

    I travel about doing some presentations about the changes to a wide and diverse range of audiences.

    I show a slide to everyone which clearly states the “mission” of Northern Ireland fans.

    It states:

    “To ensure that ALL those who wish to support Northern Ireland can do so in an atmosphere free from sectarianism, racism, bigotry and intolerance”

    I am more aware than most of the “enemy” that lies within our fanbase. Sectarianism is the primary enemy.

    The enemy from within can destroy us. It must be beaten, not so much because of it being a real threat to the future of the IFA and Northern Ireland representative teams, but simply because it is WRONG.

    “But congratulations on your work. You’re one of the good guys, no doubt about it”

    Thanks Billy, but, to be honest, I don’t seek congratulations or to be a “good guy” – merely the death of sectarianism amongst the Northern Ireland fanbase during our matches.

    There are many, many people in the fanbase who do the same work with exactly the same aim.

  • Anna Dale

    Austin
    If I was forced to get up at either 5.25 am(or 5.52 for that matter ;)) I think having a look at old Slugger would be the last thing on my mind…!

    Anyway, you wrote this earlier:

    “By make of an apology to Neil, wouldn’t it be great to invite him along for a pre-match presentation at one of the next home games?”

    The point I was trying to make (and maybe the use of the word “crime” was a slight exaggerationn on my part) was I don’t think that I’ve personally done anything in this instance to have to apologise for and I’m always a bit wary of these kind of gestures anyway (1 minute silence before games for someone whom nobody has ever heard off for example) which strike me as more as a PR exercise rather than achieving anything meaningful.

    “I wasn’t looking at some type of communal act of atonement or repentance but rather thought that a tribute to Lennon would reflect well on the hard-won and well-deserved reputation of the supporters”

    Now, a “tribute”? well yes, that’s different.
    I don’t know what other NI fans think about this, maybe when he retires there’ll be a testimonial match for him featuring the NI team? I’d personally be more than happy to support that and him.

  • dermot

    I think what is needed is an acceptance that within the north, there are two sets of fans, one set chooses to support northern ireland and one set chooses to support the republic.

    If everyone can accept that both sets of fans have the right to support ‘their’ team, we might have a more harmonious future.

    If you are going to Stuttgart or Windsor on Saturday, let’s keep it football.

  • Mickybo

    Michael McIlveen is hardly cold in the grave and the apologists here for the ideology that killed him and make it a cpaital offence to support Celtic are crowing here about how forgiving the terrorists who support the NI football team are. Tell that to your dead victims. You people do not belong in civilised society.

    Long live Pope John Paul the Great. Up the Bhoys! Up the Polish Catholic Church.

  • doctor

    trolls!!

  • pappa smurf ate my dog

    Some trolls are just plain weird, imagine anyone seriously shouting “Long live Pope John Paul the great”.

    As a republican living in a republican area I have to say ive never heard anyone say such an amusing thing, but hey I like to dress as Rhonda Paisley at the weekend.

    I must also confess that when the NI team beat England I jumped off my chair and shouted expletives of joy at the tv. Im ashamed.

  • Charlie

    Re. Dermot’s comment: ‘I think what is needed is an acceptance that within the north, there are two sets of fans, one set chooses to support northern ireland and one set chooses to support the republic.’

    Sorry, but not everyone is content with perpetuating that kind of status quo, which to my mind, just suits the tired old ‘them ‘uns and us ‘uns’ sectarian ballix which we so desperately need to move on from. Personally, I can support both teams and although primarily a N. Ireland supporter, I’ve passionately supported the Republic in all their World Cup and European Championships campaigns. With an All-Ireland team looking unlikely in the foreseeable future, I find it utterly perplexing that there are some people born and raised in the North of Ireland who will stubbornly deny feeling any empathy with players in green shirts representing the small chunk of earth that they come from…. Having said that, everything that can be done to make supporting N. Ireland an all-inclusive thing, has to be done – and that includes dropping ‘God Save the Queen’ as the pre-match anthem. A non-sectarian alternative that we can all identify with has to be agreed upon as a matter of urgency.

    As a kid, seeing George Best and Derek Dougan in the green shirt of N. Ireland always seemed like a proud and bold display of their Irishness and I loved it…how some people in the North would perceive wearing a N. Ireland shirt as a display of ‘Proddiness’ and not identify with it is utterly beyond me and, I guess, shows how the consciousness of this place is still pretty messed up…