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Neil Lennon: Street Fighting Man

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We learnt a lot about the recent attack on Neil Lennon during the court case this week. It turns out that he wasn’t jumped from behind after all. His attackers didn’t call him a fenian as they sucker-punched him to the ground. We now know that the attack wasn’t a sectarian hate crime, but rather a crime that built out of some name calling about a football result.

So, after all the press attention and the accusations and the debates in various forums both blue and green, it turns out that the attack doesn’t serve as a proxy for Rangers vs. Celtic after all. After some heated words, a few gestures, a shove or two, he was beaten up — not because he was a Catholic but because he was someone that his attacker disliked.

There’s one more thing that this was not. A legitimate attack on a guy who needed a beating.

Except that, apparently, it was. I’ve read or heard that Neil Lennon “asked for it” by being out for a drink after an Old Firm game. “He’s an animal” and “had it coming to him”. As “a mhanky bastard”, he probably started it.

I for one disagree very strongly with this sort of view. Not because the case involves Neil Lennon or Celtic, but because of what that view implies I would accept in every day life.

Some people think footballers should stay home because they become targets. But what about others who stand out? A guy I know in Glasgow bought a brand new Bentley coupe, taking delivery the day the car was officially released in Scotland. Within three days, it was keyed from stem to stern. Did he also “deserve it”? Maybe it didn’t matter because he is a “rich bastard”.

One of my best mates here in Canada is 6’10”. Or if you are from the EU metric enforcement crowd, he’s 2.0828 metres. He’s the only person I’ve ever known who has to duck to avoid the fire exit signs hanging in hallways. Get him in a big crowd and there is always someone who wants to fight him. People want to knock him down to prove he isn’t that hard. (And he isn’t, I’ve never seen him in a fight and he goes out of his way to avoid trouble). Something about his physical size makes some people want to start a fight, as though by hitting him they can make themselves feel bigger. Does my mate really deserve hassle from shit disturbers every single weekend?

I’ve never liked Neil Lennon. His twisted, angry face contorted with hatred as he waved his fist at Ibrox sums the man up for me. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that he couldn’t rise above a few insults from a man in a pub about a football score. A man with more sense and less blunt rage would have ignored the heckles or come back with a witty put-down. And in all honesty, a more level headed man would probably have chosen somewhere a bit less public to relax and unwind.

But I refuse to accept that he deserved to be beaten to the ground and knocked unconscious. Just as I refuse to accept that the young Rangers fan attacked the same day deserved to have his jaw broken.

In the end, the press were denied their field day. Lennon’s attackers, it turns out, were part of “Scotland’s shame”, just not the one McConnell liked to talk about. Three men brawling in the street like animals after a few drinks. One man seriously hurt at the finish. Nothing unusual, nothing special. But nothing to be proud of either.

Written by CanadianGer and previously published at Rangers Media, the best online community for all things Rangers FC.

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