The Neil Lennon problem.

Neil Francis Lennon is a problem.

We should all acknowledge that from the start.

I am writing this in the part of Ulster that has provided Glasgow with many of its Irish people over the generations.

Donegal people are, in the main, a quiet species.

The archetypal Tir Conaill fella will keep his cards close to chest and won’t say too much.

This became especially true once they landed in Scotland and got the vibe.

If you kept your head down you would be fine.

Although I live in Ulster I have few kin from this province in my line.

My mother’s side  hailed from Carlow.

They were strong Land Leaguers and the patriarch of the clan was a bare knuckle fighter well into his fifties.

He was a Fenian with a capital “F” and was completely aware of what was around him.

Ironically the Carlow Murphys came into a Scotland over a hundred years ago that was unsure of the sturdiness of their own national  identity.

Of course that wasn’t Paddy’s fault.

Yet this was the generation of Scots who would produce the authors of the 1923 Church and Nation committee report that stated that there was a “Southern Irish Roman Catholic Race” a document which the Church of Scotland has recently apologised for.

Apology accepted.

The public portrayal of Neil Lennon is from central casting within that Kirk scripted eugenics melodrama.

In the interests of full disclosure I do not know Neil Lennon personally.

I only know him professionally.

I have been in several Press Conferences with him and I have on those occasions asked him questions about his job.

In these media set pieces I have found him courteous, intelligent and straightforward.

To see him in another media environment is to see an entirely different person that the Scottish  press perceive him to be.

Lennon’s main problem in Scotland is that he doesn’t tug the forelock.

First of all his hair is too short, but more importantly his head is at the wrong angle.

It is held far too high for that.

For some in Scottish society the Celtic manager is too uppity for the public good.

Now dear reader consider this.

If Alan Thompson or Johan Mjallby had been appointed Celtic manager two seasons ago just think what the reportage would have been like.

With exactly the same results, the good and the bad, what would the back pages have been like the Swede or the Englishman?

Explanations that ignore the ethnic are proffered.

We are told that Lennon “brings it on himself” because of his manner.

Moreover, it is a hangover from his combative playing days in the hoops.


Alan Thompson was sent off several times while playing in matches against Rangers, but Neil Lennon in only one.

In fact that red card was the only one that the Irishman received while playing in Scotland.

The big Scandinavian was a night club bouncer of a centre half who did not recognise the Geneva Convention on the field of play.

However you just know that that officialdom would have a different stance to those two ex-Celtic players if they were in the manager’s seat.

To remove the ethnic from the analysis is to be a friend of nonsense.

Look at how Neil is portrayed in the Scottish Review.

I asked a member of staff there at the time of publication if the term “Punch Cartoon” meant anything to her with regard to depictions if Irish people and she said it didn’t.

I believed her.

Every Irish person I showed this cartoon to shrieked in disbelief that such a depiction of an Irishman would be published in modern Britain.

In Scotland Anti-Irish racism is so interwoven into the fabric of the culture that people don’t even notice.

When any case is made for Neil Lennon the self-educated body language experts of the hack pack say that his physical posture leaves much to be desired.

This photograph in the Sun shows Fourth Official Ian Brines, err, pressing home his point to an impassive Neil Lennon at Ibrox on Sunday.

Interestingly one of the charges aimed at Lennon is

  “adoption of aggressive behaviour towards match official….”

As I consider all of this I wonder why he just doesn’t walk away from it all because he and his young family could live in a better situation tomorrow.

I thought about this when I saw him come into the press conference at Hampden last week accompanied by a man who makes John Mjallby look tiny.

This American gentleman genuinely deserves the term “human shield” and follows Lennon around everywhere when the Lurgan man is at his work.

What other manager in British football requires this type of close protection?


The only fragment of light in all of this now is that the London Media are now aware that something is rotten in the state of Scotland.

The Fourth estate in the country of my birth has had plenty of opportunities to step up on the issue of Anti-Irish racism.

However the succulent lamb tasted too good, but this is far more important than whether or not a player was offside.

This is about a country finally growing up and turning its back upon its racist history.

Until that happens Neil Lennon will remain a problem

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