Mickey Blue Eyes...
The Attack on Neil Lennon
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Mickey Blue Eyes


At last night's Hearts V Celtic match there was a physical attack on the Celtic manager, Neil Lennon. Fortunately, a thug was arrested and carted off before he could do much harm. In recent months Lennon has received death threats, bombs and bullets in his post, thus demonstrating there is a bad strain of football insanity in the air in Scotland. Though there appears to be a specific factor - Lennon is Catholic and received threats while he was a player too - it could easily have been anywhere in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the world in any other sport. But there's nothing new about this species of sports hatred. Sadly, football attracts more of the sickness because it is the most popular game in the world. The only surprise to me is that it hasn't happened earlier in England. We too have more than our fair share of hate-filled crackpots. And don't kid yourself we don't have them amongst Evertonians.

In our case it isn't so long ago the club had to take action against racism promoted by a tiny group of north Liverpool BNP goons; make no mistake, some of them are still dribbling their craziness into a glass in the nearest ale house. It wouldn't take much to see and hear them again. As we all know, some of the racist incidents the club suffered back then were a disgrace to humanity. Fortunately, steps were taken to crush the perpetrators into an even smaller ball of trash, though it wasn't before the situation reached a disturbing level of pollution amongst younger fans.

For example, those of us who were there will never forget a losing match at Fulham in 2001 when Walter Smith was manager and playing fortunes were fraught. Before the game I was unfortunate enough to be in a pub where Evertonians gathered and were infiltrated by a small mob of racist scum who kicked off a dreary fascist diatribe. Doubtless some naifs thought it only "funny" and joined in for the "laughs." In fact it was anything but humorous. It was shameful. I shit you not, for the first time in my life I had a small sense of what it must have been like in Munich during the Nazi beer hall putsch. It really isn't too much to say the place was overcome by a sort of exalted hatred that lacked only the Horst Wessel song. I thought then it would simply blow itself out in the pub but I was badly mistaken. It spilled over into the match where I witnessed absolutely the worst organised racism I have ever seen at an Everton game. I still have a clear memory of a young black steward, frozen by the experience, howled at - it's the only description - and hounded by a bunch of adolescent and middle aged loonies spittling like a pack of rabid dogs. It reached such a sickening pitch I drew it to the attention of the police who eventually took (reluctant) action against them. Looking back, my biggest mistake was not to do it much earlier in the pub. The mad dog might have been caged earlier if I had. It is not a mistake I have repeated.

It is no coincidence the same match featured an incident near the directors box when the sick racist atmosphere encouraged one nut job to launch a miserable poisonous verbal attack on Bill Kenwright just two years after he had bought the club. Afterwards, Kenwright was obliged to properly apologise to the Fulham directors for the racism and the incident. That experience ensured I separated myself from anybody remotely connected with that kind of behaviour, that there could be no half way house with them. Racist and personality hatreds are cut from the same cloth. They are both a cowardly search for scapegoats. At one time during my early resettling days I even knew one fellow in a highly responsible position who never ceased telling me how much he hated Bill Kenwright and how proud he was to post it on the internet. It was simply incredible and bore no relation to the real problems faced by the club in its desperate-enough struggle to restore playing fortunes. I imagine it is how some inmates in an asylum indulge their irrational obsessive hate. One of the worst effects was on the most impressionable and vulnerable, the young; another was on the general reputation of the club. Outsiders see and hear this and can draw the lazy conclusion that a tiny noisy minority represent the rest of us, which of course they don't. They represent only their own psychoses.

But anyone who thought the Fulham match would be the end of the insanity had to revise their opinion a few years ago after we badly lost a home derby 2-0 to the old enemy and a hate-spitting - again, no exaggeration - mad man berated everyone in the directors box, all of it in front of the Liverpool directors. All this because we lost a football match and someone didn't have the common sense strength to take it for what it was. No, don't kid yourself it has gone away. The cancer is still with us. All it needs is someone or something to trigger it. Unrestrained, the logical conclusion is a tragedy that doesn't bear thinking about. The Neil Lennon episode is a universal symptom, not a cause.

Moreover, ultimately these crackpots have turned going to an away match into a chore hardly worth the effort. They have provided a ready excuse for authoritarian mindsets to extend the national security state into what should be a harmless hobby. Regulars will confirm the contemporary humiliating horror of being shepherded through files of policemen and dogs to be searched and filmed by stiff faced guards with the demeanour of fascist South American death squads looking for dissidents, an experience we face once again at West Bromwich on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Alex Salmond the Scottish First Minister has announced steps will be taken to "eliminate and eradicate" the kind of sectarian and chauvinist madness levelled against Neil Lennon. Inevitably this will include even more draconian measures and bring us a step closer to the point where the game is simply not worth having. Unlikely as it is, if we ever reach that melancholic state of affairs the haters will have won. And even though we are a long, long way from that there are times when perhaps we need a wake-up call. If the Neil Lennon matter is just such a moment it will have been at the price of one man's peace of mind. How sad. How stupid.

Comments about The Attack on Neil Lennon
Religion has caused as much trouble in footie as it has in any other part of life. Get shut of it and there'll be one less problem in life never mind football. Neil Lennon might be a difficult or unlikeable person but that doesn't mean he deserves all the shit thrown at him. Sometimes the people who latch on to the game are the sickest people in the world.
Paul, Warrington, 8:52 AM 17/05/2011
After attending the Wigan game, I returned home only to receive a call from my sister. She had been shopping in Manchester and was catching the Manchester to Liverpool train home. Whilst on the train she was verbally abused and threatened by a group of drunken so called Everton supporters. As she got off at her stop, the abuse continued, they called her a ----ing slag/bitch etc. My sister was terrified. The ironic part about it is that all of my family are Evertonians including my sister's husband and her kids. I am a season ticket holder. This incident happened on a public train service to a young woman who was travelling on her own. As well as being furious about my sister's treatment; I am also furious about the negative impact such an incident has on the name of our great football club. An outstanding article MBE.
Tim.G, A in M, 8:04 PM 16/05/2011
Definitely a fine article. Too often people go to football matches and see it as an excuse to berate and abuse others for the usual reasons which all come down to hatred. I usually look at such people and wonder how unhappy they must be with their own lot to have so much hatred.
Al, Smoke, 11:41 AM 16/05/2011
Brilliant article by MBE. Any blue with any decency should show their disgust at any signs of racism, sectarianism or any other form of vile that may be chanted by the small minority of ignorant thickies who consider this type of support to be acceptable. Evertons away support is consistent and second to none and it is because of this loyalty we are admired throughout the land, the club and a number of individuals have worked hard to move us away from some of the negative tags associated with our club and supporters in the past, we do not want any other tag other than loyal, vociferous and decent supporters. It is up to all decent, loyal blues supporters to isolate these idiots whose vitriolic words and actions only acts to disgrace the good name of our club and all decent and true supporters.
Peter Murphy, Formby, 10:07 AM 16/05/2011
As someone says above, Martin O'Neill did not generate any such feelings or behaviour so Lennon's experience is nothing whatsoever to do with being a Catholic. It is everything to do with being an arrogant 'ned' (i.e. thug) who has no clue how to behave with any semblance of class or dignity. Most neutrals would have said he was lucky to avoid criminal charges after trying to attack McCoist in front of thousands of witnesses recently. Can you imagine Dalglish, Moyes, Houllier, Shankly, Kendall, Walter Smith doing that? No. Not in a million years.
bluenose1, Glasgow, 12:52 AM 16/05/2011
I just wish these religious maniacs would take themselves and their madness and fuck off out of football altogether. I don't care whether theyre Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Moslem, Jehovahs Witness, Baptist, Methodist, Plymouth Bretheren, Cargo Cult, Jewish, Coptic, Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox or Buddhist. Every time the mad bastards do or say something they make a mess of someone's life.
Ste Philips, Litherland, 10:54 PM 15/05/2011
Lennon's behaviour or religion is immaterial. There are no excuses for what has happened to him. Whoevers guilty should go to jail for a long time as should those who encourage it but hide behind somebody else.
Spectator, Crosby, 1:02 PM 15/05/2011
Possibly the only article MBE has wrote that has made any sense. Coming from Northern Ireland personal threats cannot be tolerated.However Neil Lennon has not behaved in a respectful manner either , WE all must take responsibility for our actions . Martin O,Neil was an irish Catholic who managed Celtic and is still thought of very highly by both connunities in Northern Ireland.
bluenoseronnie, londonderry, 12:51 PM 15/05/2011
Excuse me Dan, York, maybe you're the one who shouldnt jump to lazy conclusions about what you 'think' I've said..I agree there are still other problems in Football such as Racism, Homophobia and general Tribalism etc, but Religious Intolerance that's been handed down from Father to Son and Teacher/Priest to Pupil for centuries is the main reason for the sick hate-filled shite you see in Scotland..Without Religion the Whole World, never mind Football would be a better place......
Big H, Birkenhead, 12:51 PM 15/05/2011
People step into a football stadium and think its a license to hurl abuse at people. Much like people use road rage as an outlet. But there are no excuses. Its outlandish behaviour and it just makes the beautiful game, not so beautiful. It makes it fucking UGLY. And it needs to be knocked on the head sooner rather than later. It is, after all is said and done, just a game!
Tony B, Finland, 10:18 PM 14/05/2011
Unfortunately the racist scumbags who blight our great club once again reared their ugly heads at West Brom, with their mindless racist chants. I was unfortunate to be standing amongst them and witnessed, mainly teenagers, chanting a hate filled song that made me feel ashamed.I'm not the type to say "I'll never watch them again". It's not the clubs fault. It's a sad, mindless minority who have attatched themselves to our club and only we can weed them out. Let's not become the Millwall of the Premier League because thats when I really will say "I'll never watch them again"
tomski1878, Lydiate, 8:10 PM 14/05/2011
I totally disagree in many ways. Racism is a caused by a persons hatred for their onw lifestyle, they can't find somebody to blame so they blame people different from them. I've witnessed casual racism for years, these people are not racist they just act it. I'd say we're all guilty of it, we're all proud of our own ethnic, social, or civic identity. Neil Lennon is not hated because he's Catholic or Irish, which is what a group of plastic wannabe paddies want you to believe. He's hated because he's a dislikable character. He dindn't have any trouble before he went to Celtic. If somebody called Rafa a spanish waiter, would they be guilty of racism. Racial and relgious differences and usually caused by economic troubles, hence the relgious troubles between Catholic Scotty Road and Orange Everton. like John Barnes said racism in football won't be stopped, when humans still walk the planet. Humans are a tribal bunch, most people would think Goodisons a shithole we don't.
Chris, Liverpool, 8:02 PM 14/05/2011
Big H - You've drawn the same lazy conclusion mentioned in the article.
Dan, York, 7:40 PM 14/05/2011
I agree, however the issues with Lennon are in part down to his own arragance, religion aside. While I do not in the slightest condone what is hapening to be man, far from it, I do believe he doesn't do himself any favours whatsoever with his own behaviour RE: the recent Old Firm games - grappling with Ally McCoist/jeering the Rangers supporters at Ibrox etc. A man in his position should know alot better bearing in the mind the already fragile relationships between 'Gers and Celtic. He in my mind is pathetic. The hate campaign surrounding him however is disgraceful. He is after all only a football manager and football is only a game.
Drew, Childwall, 4:13 PM 14/05/2011
Football and religion is probably one of the most toxic brews ever poured into a glass and offered to a child. Whereas plain old racism is vile and hateful enough, the sectarianism of a sporting and religious divide inspires hatred of absolutely everyone until you've seen their credentials. Alas, there is any easy cure, just a vague hope that some of them will realise that they've been told lies and really, is doesn't matter in the least if someone is just a bit different from themselves.
GD, West Derby, 11:33 AM 14/05/2011
Well said all, religion seems to be the start of all conflict world wide and its up to all of us as fans of football to stamp out anything of this nature that can poison our fans! I remember listening to an idiot game in game out dishing out abuse to Earl Barrett, for no other reason than his colour; i only wish i had said something to him much earlier than i did! We dont want to go back to the days of being noted as one of the most rascist clubs in the country, and i for one am proud of the work our great club has done to eradicate this over the years! The problem in Scotland is the FA and both Celtic and Rangers have done too little to stop the hatred, merely passing it off as match day banter and hiding behind the fact that it is a social problem which they can do nothing about! I only hope Neil Lennon stays in the position he does, to show defiance to these idiots and that they cannot win; irespective of their religion,colour,creed!!!
Dave, Wirral, 11:25 AM 14/05/2011
One of the best, most appropriate pieces I have read on BK. I too found the blatant racism which surrounded Goodison and many other grounds in the late 70s and early 80s appalling and whilst the 'sanitisation' of the Premie rleague has eradicated the worst excesses MBE is is not far under the surface and erupts from the mouths of neanderthals on too many occasions..banter is one thing- abuse and hatred another and has no place at Goodison- or anywhere else for that matter
Gareth, Bury, 10:50 AM 14/05/2011
Thank you for that. Next time i will not ignore the racism I experienced at the Wigan away game the other week by a couple of scallies.
mike, leigh, 8:36 AM 14/05/2011
If yo accuse a club of throwing a game you can expect a reaction from their fans. Lennon's a nasty piece of work who goes out of his way to antaganise people.
Callum Mac, Huyton, 3:36 AM 14/05/2011
Cheers Micky - whole heartly agree, possibly the best post you've ever written.
Blueinthesouth, London, 11:13 PM 13/05/2011
The sad fact MBE is that whoever attacked Neil Lennon, or whoever it was who sent the death threats, explosive material and bullets through the post, did so because of one thing and one thing only, Religious hatred..Both Catholics and Protestants, and most other Religions Worldwide come to that, will all if questioned claim to be peace loving and tollerant, yet they all - to one degree or other - continue indoctrinating their Kids, Pupils, Followers, Worshippers etc in the belief that theirs is the only way and anyone who doesnt believe/follow them is a 'Sinner who will Burn In Hell for all Eternity'...Life is the only reality I believe in, but the Myth of Religion and all it entails is as rife today in 2011 as it has been throughout the Centuries and unfortunately/sadly I can't see it ending anytime soon..
Big H, Birkenhead, 8:55 PM 13/05/2011
Bravo Mickey – well written, I’m not usually one to applaud your writings, as I think you go off on one at times. However, with this piece you have eloquently pointed out that the lunatics although small in number are still running the asylum with their bigoted points of view. Alas though, I have noticed that the ones making the bullets for the idiots to fire are people who know nothing of the world, they think they do, as they get it all from the media, so this must makes them experts! Unfortunately, it is only through time, life experiences and with age that you tend to see things in a clearer picture and start to understand that things are not all that they seem, some call it enlightenment, personally I call it growing up!!!!!
Absent Blue, Licololn, 8:07 PM 13/05/2011
Racism and Sectarianism is rampant the world over, and these people are just scumbags - not football fans - just toerags who haven't a clue about football or life in general. Lennon has a big set of brass bollox on him, he'll be grand and hopefully he'll be still in the game next season. I'm no Celtic or Rangers fan, I've no time for either club, but I've all the respect in the world for Lennon after all the shite he's been through over the last ten years...
Marty Slevin, Dublin, 7:57 PM 13/05/2011
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