Headlines of 'Celtic manager Neil Lennon will not gloat if they win the title at rivals Rangers on Sunday' were splashed across the newspapers yesterday. The pundits claim that he will be on his 'best behaviour' and that he will act professionally on the day if his side win the SPL title at the home of their greatest rivals. That he won't rub salt into the wounds of a dying animal. Why not?
Why should Neil Lennon not gloat, why should he not celebrate wildly, why should he not go towards his own supporters and pump his fist in the air with glee, why should he not take to the field at full time and hug everyone of his players?
Celebrating and winding up your rivals when you win is part and parcel of sport.
Some will claim that gloating when your rivals are suffering is just not dignified, but when those same rivals rubbed salt into the wounds of Celtic in 1999, when they clinched the title at Celtic Park then they certainly can't bump their gums if Celtic do likewise on Sunday. Pending Motherwell potentially dropping points against Kilmarnock on Saturday.
It is not a matter of if, but when Celtic clinch the title, every Celtic fan would take great pleasure in securing the title at Ibrox, just like Rangers fans loved every minute of their success in 1999. So why should the press, the governing bodies and the police all state that potential celebrations from Celtic should be diluted?
I have an idea why they are calling for it to be died down:
After the worldwide coverage of Neil Lennon being attacked on the touchline at Tynecastle last season. Do you really think that those elements of small-minded bigots at Ibrox, who continue to foam at the mouth over Neil Lennon for merely being alive, would let the Lurgan-born Celtic manager have a free rein to celebrate on the field of play at full time if they do indeed secure the title.
Would we witness scenes of so-called Rangers fans running onto the pitch to get to Neil Lennon to 'teach him a lesson'. Would we hear of attacks and deaths later on Sunday night where fans would be on the receiving end of knife attacks etc.
Remember this is a man who since joining Celtic over a decade ago has been abused, assaulted, vilified and sent parcel bombs & bullets in the post. No other player or manager in the world has been on the wrong end of a consistent campaign of hate. For a man that has suffered from depression and has publicly stated so, Neil Lennon has every right to stand proudly on the pitch at Ibrox or any other park and celebrate a title win - the first of his managerial career.
It will be a scene that Strathclyde Police will have nightmare overs, but it is not illegal. Just like running along the touchline cupping your ear at rival fans after scoring is not illegal. Both could be classed as incitement, but when was the last time a player was hauled to court over celebrating a goal?
Martin O'Neill jumps for joy when his team scores and when they win. Jose Mourinho runs onto pitches and down touchlines when his team scores or wins games. Walter Smith even ran down the touchline to celebrate and Graeme Souness planted a large Galatasaray flag into the centre circle of the pitch of arch rivals Fenerbahçe after Galatasaray had beaten them in the Turkish Cup final in 1996, nearly sparking a riot.
Yet when Neil Lennon is involved, he is criticised, he is villified, he is classed as lacking dignity. I wonder, did the media do likewise to Walter Smith when he went beserk after Nacho Novo was sent off for a two-footed tackle against Hibs?
Did they splash a photo of Walter Smith in a rage on the front and back pages like they did after the so-called Old Firm shame game when a wee spat between Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon happened. An incident which was merely an exchange of words, unlike that of Craig Brown and John Boyle soon after when both men grappled in the tunnel at Fir Park. Did they call Craig Brown a thug for punching an official from Odense during Motherwell's european game against the Scandinavian side?
In fact Chick Young, who has been on the end of some undignified comments from Walter Smith, laughed off Pa' Broon's assault. Do you really think the St.Mirren fan would have laughed if Neil Lennon had punched an opponent?
The match in 1999 will be remembered for Rangers winning the title at the home of their greatest rivals, to the Hugh Dallas coin attack, to the Celtic fan falling from the top-tier, but Celtic fans will remember the Rangers players mocking Celtic at full time by performing a mass huddle on the pitch. Dignity? Certainly not. Illegal? Certainly not. Celebratory? Of course. So why shouldn't Celtic do likewise on Sunday led by Neil Lennon, doing a mass huddle in the centre circle at Ibrox.
If Celtic do manage to win the title at Ibrox, for the first time since 1967, it will be a dream come true for Celtic fans. And despite the false persona on many-a-Rangers fan in the lead up to this game it will be a nightmare for them, for years to come.
Neil Lennon stated on Friday: "We had the police up on Wednesday, we had a chat with the head of the police organisation about the game on Sunday but not with regards post-match celebrations. I think he just wants to make sure that the game goes as well as it possibly can go, which I totally understand. The last thing we want to do is rub it in people's faces. We won't be there to gloat. We will be respectful of everyone at the stadium.
"We have played very well this season and we played very well last season. We have been better this season and I think we have proved over the piece that we have been worthy champions. I think these players deserve it."
So why shouldn't we see Neil Lennon celebrate, we shall certainly hear the abuse aimed at Lennon for 90-plus minutes - sectarian in origin from the Rangers support. So why shouldn't he cup his ears in a GIRFUY sort of way to the Rangers support, why shouldn't the fans, the players and a man who has had over a decade of abuse, assault and threats from rivals not celebrate in style.
If the Rangers players can celebrate at Celtic Park, like they did in 1999, why can't Celtic do likewise in 2012?
As much as I want to win the league at the home of our rivals, unfortunately we have to think of the bigger picture.
Statistics will prove, despite the best efforts of the SNP, that when They get beat, Scotland suffers from a rise of domestic violence, all police leave is cancelled, and some poor soul(s) lose their lives. I would like to think that so one would challenge that.
if Motherwell win then it's not an issue. Best result of the weekend.
Posted by a on 03/24/2012
Neil Lennon is an idiot who thinks there is no reason to hate him what about when he spat on a rangers flag at ibrox which could have caused a war why do you think he was getting battered left right and center everywhere he went because he has a big mouth he wants to start an argument or fight but then make himself look like a victim when he is not
also people say all rangers fans are bigots well again that is wrong there is a minority of fans who are bigots but there is a lot of decent rangers fans to rangers are a great club with great tradition
also i would say Neil Lennon is a bigot himself so he cant say much
Posted by Martin on 03/24/2012
I completely agree. I fully understand that any sign or show of "gloating" could result in scenes of carnage, remember the effect a "cupping of ears had"...a call to the local Police Force, if my memory serves me correctly.
While I completely agree with your sentiments, "why shouldn't we" (and I sincerely hope we do, if it should happen) but your whole argument is made redundant by your very last sentence. It's not the celebrating that is essentially the problem (although as we both know, it will likely be a very, very powerful catalyst) but the reaction towards, said celebrations.
It's really a two sided coin, refrain and let things just pass by, while feeling a sense of frustration, at not rubbing it right in or going wild and taking the complete and utter piss and instigating carnage.
I know what one I'd rather see!
Posted by John on 03/24/2012
Lennon, the team and the support have every right to celebrate winning the title at Ibrox, no problem with me as Rangers fan. I would do the same if we won it at Parkhead so I would be a hypocrite to say otherwise. Yeah I would be a little annoyed at the fact that Celtic did win at our ground but I can accept the fact that the better team is on course to win the league right now.
But you know what I hate? When people group me together with a class of human that doesn't deserve to exist. "Do you really think that those elements of small-minded bigots at Ibrox", no where in that sentence or any following one was the word "some" or a similar word used. You vilify an entire group of people for something a section of them do, and that isn't fair at all. Not all of us are small-minded or bigoted and I refuse the insinuation that we are.
Posted by Stevie on 03/24/2012
Should we really be surprised what Neil Lennon gets the blame for in Scotland.
We've got a club who've have been cheating for years in conjunction with the SFA and a complicit media.
The first video in this blog Walter Smith goes nuts when Natcho Novo get sent off for a TWO footed tackle, just imagine if that was Neil Lennon.
If Cheats fc are allowed back into the top flight of Scottish football or game is finished.
Me as a Celtic fan would rather go the way of Belfast Celtic as let cheats fc of Scot free.
Hopefully Motherwell win on Saturday and Celtic win on Sunday. Would rather win the league at paradise.
Posted by Dj Alex on 03/24/2012
I'm not a native English speaker but i always thought gloating meant exactly that adebayoresque ear-cupping, not the pumping your fist to your own hands thing, which i consider well within the boundaries of good sporting behaviour. It's not Celtic's fault that Rangers don't exactly Nobel economy prize winners in their ranks.
Posted by Danny P on 03/24/2012
The answer is simple Andy - we are still, 124 years after formation; the immigrant and inferior club.
Only the supremicist type and only with the backing or sympathy of the 'establishment', can you get away with what Rangers have consistently got away with over the same time period.
Why wouldnt they be able to sign who they want?
Why wouldnt they be able to win the league at CP, aided by the most ridiculous refereeing?
Why cant their manager abuse who and say what he wants?
Why cant theyre fans sing what they want?
What do you mean they are illegal - they are only cultural!
"Sure its all a bit of banter"
How dare Celtic think of winning the league at Ibrox - police can you change the fixtures around!?
How dare Celtic fans sing songs about that country I despise - Iv been told I cant sing my own 'cultural' songs, that cant be tolerated! (new legislation introduced "to even the score")
How dare a catholic from the north of Ireland sign for Celtic and argue with people
Posted by Swiss Tam on 03/24/2012
Well crafted. Even if Motherwell win today, a Celtic win tomorrow will mean a points total which Well can only equal and a goal difference advantage of around 35. Title wins have been celebrated in the past in those circumstances. Let the party commence!
Posted by baxterboy on 03/24/2012
lennon states that he will not gloat.
surely you aren't naive enough to be unable to distinguish lennon's true feelings from his public one.
lennon not gloat? aye, right.
its not gloating he'll have to worry about come sunday night. the loss to the gers coupled with the loss of the league and the pressure of a loss to hearts in the semis ...well, its lucky ol lenny's medicine cabinet is stocked up with his mental depressions drugs, isn't it... lol
Posted by David Hamilton on 03/24/2012
just as well there is a Rangers you would have nothing to write about..what next the Boys Brigade you are a sad individual and i cant believe you claim to be a journalist ?????
Posted by Andy M on 03/24/2012
The phrase 'elements of' means not ALL Rangers fans but an element, a small part of. I know plenty of decent Rangers fans, I would never lump them in with those bigots we all know that shame Rangers Football Club with their actions.
Posted by Gordon Irvine on 03/24/2012
You see Andy, you think you are a clever guy but the above shows why people like you are part of the problem. Lets try to get some sense into the situation. There are elements of morons in both supports. There is a guy here writing that Domestic violence only goes up when Rangers get beat - The police recorded a rise in domestic violence after the OF game on 18 Sep 2011 - it more than doubled - Result that day was 4 - 2 Rangers. DOES NOT Mean that this was Celtic fans - more likely alcohol related win lose or draw but the fact fans want to use things like this show how sick some supporters are.
You also again answer you own point, Lennon has said himself he will celebrate and be aware of his surroundings. That is sensible. You highlight Sourness's crazy flag incident that "nearly sparked a riot".sYou see what you done there?
Spare me the abuse directed at Lennon nonsense - Celtic fans do what with Stuart McCall, Ally McCoist at Parkhead, blow kisses?
Posted by sally on 03/24/2012
Once again these so called greatest fans in the world have got very short memories.
After the mayhem you people caused in 1999 the police said this will never happen again at any of the two grounds,but now it's ok because it's celtic eh.
What happened in 1999 was the most disgusting thing i've ever seen at a football match,thousands of coins thrown at the referee,4 fans on the pitch trying to attack the referee,and not for the first time either,celtic fans spitting at the champions at the end of the game,you people done everything in your power to get that game abandoned.
Gloating you say, the reason rangers done a huddle that day was because the celtic players done it at the end of a game at ibrox earlier that season,but that was just just a bit of fun eh.
That's the reason the authorities want it to be died down.
You cane feel the hatred coming from that clowns article, the celtic way since 1888 always cheated never defeated, pathetic hypocrites.
Posted by Djsmyth on 03/24/2012
I know we are told about only a minority of Rangers fans are bigots. Let us see how big the "minority" is tomorrow. We can judge that by the number who are flaunting the butcher's apron tomorrow. I know it is the British flag, but why sell and wave it tomorrow if not to try to cause provocation. Many other days
it could have been sold and to more people but they chose one specific day, hoping to cause trouble.
It isn't only the Rangers fans who are bigots.
Posted by martin kennea on 03/24/2012
what are you people on ? I have seen with my own eyes, and heard with my own ears for over 40 years the anti-catholic bile and hatred spewed by over over 90 per- cent of you at old firm games.
Posted by KB on 03/24/2012
So happy the last ever league thatll be won at snake mountain is by celtic.
Bye bye rangers!
Posted by Andy M on 03/24/2012
Can you honestly say and with a straight face that Stuart McCall and Ally McCoist get the same level of abuse that Neil Lennon does? Remember Lennon has had this for a sustained period of over TEN YEARS.
Posted by Andrew on 03/24/2012
As a Rangers fan, I don't mind if Celtic want to celebrate winning the title (if that's what happens) in any way they like. Go for it. One day free from hearing conspiracies, injustices, bitterness and stories of persecution from Celtic fans will actually be quite refreshing. It'll probably be good for your soul too.
Posted by andy c on 03/25/2012
there is a reason Rangers are not wanted any where,no city in europe wants their scum fans ,we know rangers can't count too good going by their new money problems(if they were in the olympics and they cheated like that,they would be stripped of their medals,but its the SFA haha that makes that decision)but thats not a minotity,its a majority.at the end of the game they can rub the majority their arses with the queens flag,let the party begin
Post your comment
Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine.com and produces the Scottish Football show The Final Whistle for Pulse 98.4FM. He also works on a freelance basis and has contributed to the Daily Record, The Scotsman, the Daily Mail and hasfeatured on BBC Radio Scotland and Sports Tonight TV.