NEIL LENNON words yesterday must be listened to and Scotland must face up to the problem and once and for all tackle it head on.
This is not a new problem, it has been going on from the day and hour that Neil Lennon, an Irish Catholic, signed for Celtic FC in 2000.
Let’s just note exactly what Neil Lennon said yesterday at the Hibs media conference.
“That effigy outside the ground before the game is sectarian or racist.
“Hanging people was something the K* Kl*x Kl*n did in the 1960s – maybe that’s the mentality of the people who want to write this stuff,” Lennon said.
This is indeed shameful. It embarrasses a nation or it should. It shames our nation.
“Everyone tries to skirt round it. That’s the basis of it, has been since 2000.
“The first day I stepped on to the pitch at Windsor Park as a Celtic player I was booed every time I touched the ball, having previously played 36 times and had nothing.
“But it was my association with Celtic, being high profile – there’s no question in my mind that was the reason behind it.
“You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism. If a black man is abused, you are not just abusing the colour of his skin, you are abusing his culture, his heritage, his background.
“It’s the exact same when I get called a F*nian, a p*uper, a b*ggar, a t*rrier.
“These people with the sense of entitlement or superiority complex. And all I do is stand up for myself.”
And as you will have read, Lennon’s former team-mate Gary Caldwell, now the manager of Partick Thistle, jumped into the debate taking the bigots’ excuse that Lennon brings it on himself. It was a disgusting comment from a former Celtic player. It certainly enraged the Hibs boss.
“People should know better. It’s pretty poor all this – I was goading people, I bring it on myself.
“There’s an effigy outside Tynecastle saying ‘hang Neil Lennon’. That was before the game. Did I bring that on myself?
“This has got to stop. Everyone says I play the victim. I don’t. I had 15 years in England of nothing, so the first day I step into Scotland this sort of stuff began.
“And it’s not because I’m an aggressive character. You all know me. I’m not aggressive at all. I’m competitive, sometimes I cross the line just like any normal manager. So this ‘brings it on himself’, I’m very angry about those comments.”
Then there was the former Cop Les Gray who appeared on Scottish TV to essentially blame Lennon – another cop was on the radio desperately trying to even things up by talking about the Celtic chants at Dundee (where the home fans where filmed fighting among themselves).
On Gray’s crass comments Lennon had this to say in response.
“I’m a footballer, I’m not a criminal. I don’t go around throwing bricks and stones and bottles at people.
“I don’t go around attacking people in the streets. I’m a football manager. I don’t break the law. I try and do a good job wherever I can.
“I try and put on a team who entertain, I try to win things, I’m competitive, yes.
“But I will not take any nonsense from people. Why should I?
“Maybe I’m the first one to stand up for myself in a long, long time but there’s people before me, who were Irish and played for Celtic, took a hell of a lot of abuse as well.
“But maybe they weren’t as prominent or maybe they didn’t have the voice or the platform that I have these days.”
Also on The Celtic Star…
Own Goal Specialist Caldwell, and a nation’s wholly inadequate response to Scotland’s Shame…See HERE.
Jim Craig – Celtic’s Disappointing night against Real Sociedad…See HERE.
Double Cruciate Blow! Terrible news for Arzani and Kouassi as Forrest and Rodgers win awards…See HERE.