|Neil Lennon, Glasgow Celtic manager|
Note: this post was put up two days ago and deleted at some point over the past twenty-four hours. Who by? Pass.
Neil Lennon says he’s been targeted by the hate-mongers in Scotland and in the North here because he’s a Catholic. He’s wrong. Well no, that’s a bit harsh. He’s half-wrong. Or half-right, if you like. It’s true that Glasgow Rangers for years operated a policy of No Catholics Need Apply, just as Linfield did. But over the past decade and more, both those teams have employed Catholics, on and off the field. Being a Catholic on its own is not enough to get the bile boiling. Hatred in Scotland and here in the north of Ireland is, like football itself, a unit of two halves. In the Glasgow Celtic manager’s case, the second half that releases the rage against him is that he’s Irish.
Not Northern irish, which is how the British papers, even broadsheets like The Guardian describe him. Being Irish and Catholic = Irish nationalist = for some people unacceptable, to the point where they’d like to kill you, especially if, like Lennon, you’re high-profile. You don’t have to say you believe in Irish reunification by violent means, you don’t have to say you hate all unionists. You just need to believe that Irish reunification makes sense. More accurately, you just need some canary-brain to believe that you believe in Irish reunification. Lennon, to the best of my knowledge, has never spoken a public word on Irish politics but sure luk, isn’t he a fuggin’ taig from Lurgan, and you know what they’re like, IRA every wan.
The excuse that’s sometimes put forward for activities like those of the shaved chimp who made Wednesday night’s attack is that Lennon is a ‘combative figure’. Right. A combative figure who played soccer for Northern Ireland, a team followed by bigots who chanted their contempt of him every time he appeared on the field. A combative figure ready to captain Northern Ireland until death-threats drove him out, whereupon some ‘respectable’ unionists expressed disappointment that he should let a mere death-threat push him away.
One last thing on this and then I’ll shut up on this, because I’ve a feeling I might start screaming: the one-side/ other-side talk is an insult to the listener’s intelligence. You like to say it’s on both sides really, you like to compare Celtic and Rangers in terms of bigotry? Walk off the nearest high building, would you? That or check which team for decades didn’t just shut the door but nailed it closed against Catholics. Check which team manager has had bombs, bullets, physical attack on at least two occasions launched against him. Then come back and try your stupid-arse one-side/other-side argument and be prepared to be laughed to scorn on every side.
The Lennon case shows there’s a cancer in Scottish and Northern Irish football, it’s there’s because there’s a wider cancer in Scottish and Northern Irish society. It’s called hatred of Irish nationalism.