Last night, as most regular readers will know, I published the latest in the Keith Jackass series; it asserted that Brendan Rodgers refused to comment on the Morelos incident because he had no alibi for the moment the coin was thrown.
Barmy, right? Of course it is, because sometimes the only way you can deal with the media in this country is through outright mockery. If the articles get more ridiculous every time that’s because the media tends to have periods where it does the same.
I got up this morning to newspapers headlines on the front pages as well as the back about Morelos getting hit by a coin yesterday; the collective outrage of the media is quite something to see, considering this is hardly an isolated incident.
When a linesman was struck at Livingston recently, there was no wall-to-wall coverage of that.
It was the latest in a long line of incidents involving Sevco’s supporters, including the throwing of a battery at Leigh Griffiths, a golf ball landing on the pitch in front of Stuart Armstrong two years ago and the fan who ran onto the pitch at Ibrox to attack Scott Brown.
All these incidents, involving one club. And I could have gone on and on and on. Now, with the Lennon thing having erupted, the media is engaged in throwing a pity party for Alfredo Morelos. You could not make this up.
The point of my article yesterday is that the journalist who asked Brendan that question was clearly up to no good, and Brendan knew it. He knows exactly why he was asked to comment on an issue that had nothing to do with our game. He vocally, publicly, supported Neil Lennon. The hack was trying to make the point that Lennon isn’t the only person at the centre of this stuff. It’s a shameless effort to say that what happened to Lennon is not unique.
“We can’t keep ignoring this,” Gerrard screamed yesterday.
Well perhaps he shouldn’t have ignored it then.
His shrieking demand for bans and investigations was wholly absent in the aftermath of the incident at Livingston when one of his own fans threw coins at an official who had to be treated pitch-side. Then, all he would say was that “This should not happen in football, should it? I think we all know (the linesman) is trying to do a job, so that’s not right.”
Look, this isn’t whatabouttery.
The person who threw the coin at Morelos is a degenerate scumbag who should be identified, weeded out and prosecuted. But it was a single person. At Livingston the problem was not even the guy who did the throwing but the thousands of supporters in the stand with him who made it clear where their sympathies lay when they sang “F@ck the SFA” even as the stitches were being put in. The media wanted that incident brushed under the carpet as quickly as possible.
Now all of a sudden they’ve realised this is a real problem.
But how happy they must be that it has come along at such a convenient time for them, when the story – making international headlines – is that Scottish football, and Scotland as a country, has a dire problem with anti-Irish racism.
As E-Tims pointed out this morning, this is a country that allows a lot of myths and outright fictions to take root as fact. Lennon is not the only Irish player to have been subjected to this; Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt – two other Northern Irish internationalists who pulled on the Hoops – have suffered abuse and threats, to lesser degrees, including having bullets sent to them in the post.
Lennon taps into something dark and ugly, though. Scottish football has been far too slow in confronting that awful fact. Morelos gives the media an excuse to divert attention from it once more, and this is perhaps why Brendan did not want to go there yesterday.
He knows there are issues that must be confronted … and what they are.
There are three separate issues here, and they need to be taken in turn.
First, there is a neddish element in football right now which thinks the stadium is a place where they can act however they like. Whether that’s throwing flares or fireworks or coins, these people are increasingly visible, and vocal, and ruining the game for other fans.
They are bringing disrepute to their clubs, and they need ripping out of the stands.
But what happened to Lennon forms no part of the yob culture which is taking root in stands up and down the country; it’s an issue wholly separate to that. Before the coin was thrown – indeed, every single week he stands on the touchline – Lennon gets abuse of the most appalling sort.
He is targeted, and it doesn’t matter what ground he is in. Those who claim the coin didn’t even hit him in the face, that he went down easily, deliberately ignore the point; coins being tossed at this guy are the least of what he goes through every week.
And both of these things are wholly separate from the problem which involves a very specific section of the Sevco support, who’s sense of outrage and entitlement and frustration grows with every bad result. They are a menace, and they should be viewed as such, and the media and the club itself should not be so gutless when it comes to calling them out.
Brendan Rodgers was put on the spot yesterday, but even then he knew exactly what the question was about, and he refused to answer it.
Partly because he thought it would detract from our own perfect display, but also because he realised that it was an attempt to frame the Morelos incident as a small part of a bigger problem … and it is, but in talking about Neil the other day Brendan was referring to a different issue entirely.
The media will try and confuse and combine these issues, but they are not the same.
We must not let them away with it.
We are all Neil Lennon, and in Brendan we trust.
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