Last summer I started writing about football for a website called ThisisFutbol.com. I don’t get paid to write there, but the editor liked the first piece I submitted (an article about the Old Firm providing value for money as a result of several last game of the season SPL deciders), and we agreed that I’d write two articles a week.
Since then I’ve written Scottish and English football, and occasionally European football too. Some of the articles have had a lot of hits and comments, and some haven’t, such is the life of a football ‘journalist’ (I can’t really call myself a journalist; I’ve never been paid for my opinion). Of course, during that time I’ve had some negative feedback to my articles and have been called ‘gutter press’ and a ‘tosser’ (by Wolves fans on two different articles!), and had other people disagreeing with my point in more sociable ways. It’s not something that I can’t handle, in fact, I rather enjoy it. I’d rather have an angry, negative reaction than no reaction at all, and I can’t deny that I’ve occasionally written articles that I knew might be considered controversial, or at least the opposite of popular opinion.
Last week, an article I’d written about Neil Lennon and his recent spate of angry reactions to refereeing decisions was published on the site (you can read the full article here: http://thisisfutbol.com/2012/04/blogs/scottish-premier-league/why-the-sfa-have-to-punish-neil-lennon-now). In particular, the article was about Lennon’s actions and comments following the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat against Hearts. Referee Euan Norris awarded Hearts a controversial late penalty, after Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama appeared to handle in the box. It was originally believed that Norris had awarded the penalty after Joe Ledley had blocked a shot with his hand, but Norris apparently told Celtic players that he’d awarded it for Wanyama’s handball, something television replays appear to confirm.
Lennon didn’t participate in post-match interviews, sending first team coach Alan Thompson to do them instead, but later in the afternoon he took to Twitter and said that he believed that the refereeing decisions going against Celtic were ‘personal’. In addition to his previous comments about Willie Collum after the League Cup semi-final, and being sent to the stands at half-time during the last Old Firm match, I felt it was time for the SFA to punish Lennon with a lengthy touchline ban.
I enjoy writing about football, and if you regularly read my blog, you’ll know that I write about television and film, music and other sports too, and I also write for an online magazine, Vulturehound (vulturehound.co.uk). Ultimately I would like to be paid for my writing, so I try to write impartially on all topics, and even football, although I don’t attempt to hide that I am a Rangers supporter when I’m on Twitter or in any other aspect of my life.
On Thisisfutbol, you can approve comments left on your articles yourself, and for the most part, I approve them all. As I said earlier, I welcome any reaction to what I’ve written, and the more hits my articles get, the more the site gets, which increases my chances of being spotted and becoming Britain’s next top journalist (or something). I knew that my article about Lennon would get plenty of hits, as most of my previous articles about Celtic or Rangers have had a decent amount of hits compared with other articles on the site.
But I still wasn’t quite prepared for how extreme the reaction would be. And that is the reason why I’m writing these words now. I’ve decided that I will use my blog to highlight some of these reactions, and anything I quote in this blog will be unedited, and can also be seen below the original article.
The first comment on the article was rather tame, although certainly not flattering. ‘Laughing’ wrote:
What a lazy piece of journalism…yawn…
Nothing I can’t handle, and the same was true of the second comment, from ‘Shooglenifty’, who said:
You should get a job in the Daily Record.
Now I’m not sure how one gets a job ‘in’ a newspaper (perhaps by being an advert?), but it could have been worse, at least they didn’t say The Sun.
Then things started to get a little bit more ‘interesting’. And by interesting, I mean mad.
Don’t forget to blame the Catholic schools & the Pope! Personally I blame Jesus! If it wasn’t for him and his whole inventing Christianity thing Catholics wouldn’t exist and then we wouldn’t have people like that horrible little Neil Lennon!
Don’t forget to leave those important points out of your next anti-Celtic piece you care to write.
On a serious note, even Goebbels would have struggled to write an article this one-sided! It’s sad that with Rangers dying the only thing their fans can think to do is launch personal attack after personal attack against Neil Lennon!
WE ARE ALL NEIL LENNON! HAIL HAIL!
Wise words, ‘KevDP4L’, wise words. Was my article really a ‘personal attack’ on Neil Lennon, or was it really just a condemnation of the way he reacts to defeat and what he perceives as being incorrect refereeing decisions? I replied to his comment by saying:
Why are you bringing up religion? It’s a very strange angle to take.
And that was my first reaction. I’d made no reference to Neil Lennon’s religion, or his nationality (something I’ll be accused of later), so why bring it up? ‘KevDP4L’ had this to say:
To emphasize that if you’re going to write the same old anti-Celtic, anti-Neil Lennon drivel other Rangers fans do you may as well come out and say what you really mean.
Lets not act like it’s a secret that the hatred towards Neil Lennon comes from the fact that he is a Catholic from Northern Ireland who had the audacity to play for and then manage Celtic!
Now this is a standard defence of Neil Lennon from Celtic fans. They simply cannot comprehend that people would dislike Lennon for any reason other than his religion and his association with Celtic. I won’t deny, and can’t deny, that there are Rangers fans who do hate him for these reasons, but I am not one of them. As a Rangers fan, of course I dislike him because he played for Celtic, they are our biggest (and really only) rivals, I’m hardly going to cheer for them, am I? His behaviour on the pitch as a player made me dislike him, and that was intensified by him being part of a Celtic team that was winning more trophies than they had for a long time. Again, this is a natural reaction for a rival fan. Barcelona fans probably hate Sergio Ramos in the same way, or Liverpool fans hate Paul Scholes. It’s part of football, and football supporters judge players by what they do on the pitch, not their religion or race.
The negative comments continued to flood in, but this one from ‘Adam Rush’ caught my attention more than others:
Collum refuses pen for Celtic at League Cup Final(result sealing decision) Collum 12 pens for Rangers in 22 games and ONE to opposition. 3pens for Celtic in 20 games and 3 to opposition. Murray in OF game at Ibrox (Cha red card LUDICROUS-hateful decision),Wanyama wins ball cleanly without touching opposition player-red card (should be yellow),.Rangers 2nd goal clearly off-side-GIVEN,Samaras constantly fouled (largely unpunished)
Calum Murray SHAFTS Celtic. Cup semi Euan Norris fails to send off Black,awards Hearts ludicrous pen (neither Celtic player moves towards flight of ball-NOT DELIBERATE) then refuses Celtic similar.Hooper goal incredibly close-perhaps 5″ off-side-not discernible in real time.
NORRIS 5 pens for RANGERS in 3 games (hello hello)
That’s 3 massive games in a short space of time where ALL match-turning decisions went against Celtic.Lightning keeps striking in the same place ? Unnatural I say. I THINK NEIL LENNON IS ENTITLRD TO BE ANGRY,VERY VERY VERY FF-ING ANGRY. ANYONE THINK THAT COLLUM,MURRAY AND NORRIS WOULD HAVE GIVEN THOSE DECISIONS AGAINST RANGERS ?
Your article Dougan is a huge distortion thus you are obviously of the lap-top loyal persuasion.Forget your hatred for a few mins and just LOOK at the facts. Celtic fans-send DVDs of the action to Michel Platini and start lobbying UEFA-for a 100 years THEY’VE been out to get US and THEY STILL ARE.For 25 years I have been saying TAKE THE ISSUE TO THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
We Celtic supporters are totally,utterly,completely sick to death of these Celtic hating West of Scotland bigots masquerading as referees with the authorities completely passive in the issue.Cheat away is the order of the day.Most countries refer to it as racism in Scotland they have a convenient euphemism-SECTARIANISM.Notice NO Hearts fans arrested for sectarian abuse ?
It must be so much fun sorting through Michel Platini’s mail every morning. The ‘they’ who have been ‘out to get’ Celtic are of course the SFA, but surely they aren’t doing a very good job of ‘getting’ Celtic, when they have won more league titles and trophies than any team other than Rangers? And claiming that all referees are ‘West of Scotland bigots’ seems unlikely when several of them aren’t from the west of Scotland, and some are even known to be catholic themselves.
The comments continued, most of them a variation on the same theme; the SFA and referees are out to get Celtic, there’s evidence of bias against Celtic and Catholics and the Irish in Scotland, and of course, ‘Rangers will be out of business soon haha get it up ye!’
This was another comment that stood out, from ‘margaretblack’:
All the non celtic supports who have commented on here this is what we expected of you lot bigoted pish comments. Would suit u better to go help save ur own club from distiction instead of spouting ur bigoted comments about our club. Our manager has had to put up with shite all the time he has been here something no one else has had to go through. Why dont u go crawl back to where u came from and help ur club survive but then when do u ever u run hide like always.
Now, as has been widely reported, Neil Lennon has not always had the easiest of times in Scotland. He’s been assaulted in the street and on the touchline, and of course two men were convicted recently after attempting to send Lennon home-made ‘bombs’ (although it was shown in court that the devices were not capable of exploding). I’ve never said that Lennon deserved any of that, and never would. But the mention of ‘bigoted comments’ was utter nonsense. Being critical of Celtic or Lennon is not automatically bigoted, and for that matter, neither is criticism of Catholicism. Supporters of Celtic or Catholics may not like to see or read criticism of them, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be valid, rational critique. I asked Margaret to point out some of the bigoted comments, but she never did.
One of the most outrageous and extreme comments came from ‘paul colfer’:
its not lazy journalism its brush it under the carpet journalism Well Mr Dougan Lennon will not go away. you fail to mention it was ledleys hand the ball hit. your article does not have one sentence that does not try to put Celtiuc down. do you realise people take that sort of shite in and it causes trouble on the streets lennon and his family were threatened with bombs bullets attacks because of journalist like you writing blataltly prvocative comments. you obviously dislike lennon and everything about celtic you do not have the balls to attack so you stir the knuckledraggers up you have blood on your hands shame on you
I don’t know which of my comments were ‘provocative’ or how any of them would incite violence on the streets. To say that my comments would lead to ‘blood on your hands’ was astonishing to me, as it suggests that all Rangers fans are violent psychopaths who cannot wait to go out and attack Celtic fans. Once again I have to remind you that it is perfectly possible to be critical of Celtic, and it’s pretty obvious that the kind of extreme violence Paul suggests happens regularly just doesn’t exist.
To date, there are 90 comments on the article. Some of them are my own in response to comments left by Celtic supporters, while a few others are from Rangers fans. Some are distasteful for lots of reasons, and not just because they personally abuse me. But the final comment was again from ‘Adam Rush’:
Dear Dougan- Hooper off-side ? by 5 cms ? My TV pictures showed Hooper in line with the Tarts defenders-have you got some sort of special TV ? furthermore I listened to a Scottish Premier League podcast and they suggested that the “thing” Norris gave the pen because the Hearts players appealed along with the Hearts support.Norris couldn’t see the incident anyway.So you explain to me how that could possibly be given other than th e ref has his own rotten agenda ? Of course Norris knows that he doesn’t have to answer to anyone so he and the rest of the Refs Loyal know it’s business as usual.As regards pens it isn’t so much how many,but the state of the game when you get them.On two of the very rare occasions that Rangers were two goals down,Norris produced 2 pens for Rangers in each case (Kilie &ICT).Name me two gsmes where Celtic were 0-2 and got two pens ? Yeah right ! Name me two games where Celtic got 3 pens ? as Collum produced at D.UTD and St Mirren recently for Rangers ! Right-gotcha again. Re Lennon- he’s the only manager who shows his anger at referees.GET REAL YOU STUPID RACIST IMBECILIC CRETIN.Stop hanging out with buffoons fueled by Tennents and racial hatred.Watch Red Nose at Man Utd snarling etc-I’m not knocking him but leave Lennon alone.He’s been provoked beyond any reasonable limit,but Proddy Scotland HAS to REMIND the Tims of WHO has the POWER.Can’t we have HONEST application of the rules ?
So now I was a racist too. Apparently being critical of Neil Lennon, who is a white Irishman, is racist. That’s hard to comprehend, but is apparently true.
Anyway, as I’ve stated, the full article is still available on ThisisFutbol.com, and all 90 comments are below it to read too. I’ll continue to write articles and give opinion on the site, and will continue to try and write impartially as much as possible. What I wanted to do with this blog was to highlight how difficult it is to write about Scottish football, and I think some of the comments show that the culture surrounding Rangers and Celtic can often be reactionary and lead people to make comments that they can’t back up with any real evidence.
I’ll try to embrace my bigoted and racist lifestyle now though.