Clarity from Tynecastle

Eight years ago I stumbled into the Fitba blogosphere entirely by accident.

I was propelled in this direction because of the squeamishness of the local media over the subject of Anti-Irish racism among some fans.

Of course, the main offenders were those Churchillian chaps who supported a team that played at Ibrox.

Back in the day Rangers were still alive and Sevco hadn’t even been thought about it.

It was a simpler age when no one had to pretend about Holding Company Vehicles or Engine Room Subsidiaries.

Ah memories…

For the avoidance of doubt, this ancient hatred has sadly TUPEd over with all of the purchased history.

Sevco’s final home game of last year shook the depilated structures on Edmiston Drive with the sound of The People’s favourite fascist anthem.

Although it was mainly a klan phenomenon, not everyone with a visceral hatred of the Irish attended their home games at Ibrox.

When young James McCarthy pledged his international allegiance to Ireland in 2008, he received racist abuse from various quarters.

At one match I sat among the visiting fans to New Douglas Park and they let the teenage midfielder know what they felt about his cultural crime in fair-minded Scotland.

That was the same year that The Famine Song made its appearance, as a replacement for The Billy Boys which had been banned by UEFA in 2006.

The home crowd at Ibrox needed some ditty to tell the world that they hated Irish people because, after all, they are The People.

The treatment of Aiden McGeady during his time at Celtic was one of unrelenting racism and not just from the followers of Rangers.

His crime was his country of choice.

McGeady’s fellow Irishman Neil Francis Lennon found out in 2011 that he wasn’t safe at work when his employment took him to Tynecastle Stadium.

Therefore, it was heartening to read these clear and unequivocal words from Hearts.

It later became public that the player in question was Northern Ireland International Josh Magennis.

I do not know the details of this alleged incident other than what is covered in this statement from the Tynecastle club, and it is now a police matter.

However, I find the short statement to be welcome for its clarity.

UEFA is quite clear that racism can be based on citizenship, nationality or national heritage.

On social media others sought to parse this statement as they thought it somehow constructed a hierarchy of offence with anti-Irish racism at the bottom.

My initial reading of it was that this view was erroneous and today that is still my view.

Eight years ago I stood with Lex Gold in an empty Tynecastle as the Show Racism The Red Card chaps played a rather rotund select from the Scottish Parliament.

He was the manager of the team of ex-professionals that was battering the politicians.

As we stood in the technical area where Neil Lennon would be attacked three years later, I told him what I, as a journalist and an Irishman, wanted from the soccer authorities in Scotland.

And that was for anti-Irish racism to be called out for what it was and not disguised as ‘sectarian’ or ‘banter’.

During that period, Rangers (1872-2012) had put out a statement that seemed to sympathise with the Famine Song Choir.

Some 50,000 copies were made and distributed at Ibrox.

In my view, Ms Budge is adopting the entirely opposite approach to that which was adopted by the chaps in the Blue Room then.

Given that I have some skin in the game I think I am allowed to make my own statement on the Hearts’ statement.

It is a short one:


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