Gerry Farrell: An apology to Hibs fans

Hibs players bask in the glory of their Scottish Cup triumph. Pic: SNS

Hibs players bask in the glory of their Scottish Cup triumph. Pic: SNS

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Last week I wrote a piece about violent neo-Nazi groups like the National Front, the Scottish Defence League, National Alliance and Combat 18, putting stickers covered in swastikas in the Kirkgate and on road signs on the way to Leith.

I also mentioned that I’d found hate speech on the Hibees Bounce website, posted, I assumed, by Hibs casuals. Ever since then, I’ve been getting my fair share of Roberta Flack. (As in “The first time ever I saw your face, I wanted to punch it.”)

If you were one of my critics you were right and I’m sorry for getting it wrong.

I’m a journalist, or at least a contributor, to an Edinburgh newspaper and I managed to seriously upset some of my fellow Hibs fans, not to mention the admin team and members at HibeesBounce. It was a careless piece of journalism and I regret it.

Here’s how it happened: before I sent my article in to the Editor, I thought I better check out the behaviour of the neo-Nazi groups I’d been writing about.

I typed ‘Combat 18’ into Google and the first link took me straight to a thread on HibeesBounce. I was so shocked at the racial slurs I saw, I wrongly assumed the posts were fresh and genuine. In fact, all the messages were put up on April Fool’s Day, 2008. What a total fanny I was not to smell a rat and check the date. What can I say? I come from a long line of fannies.

So to all the decent Hibs fans out there who have never made a racist remark in their puff, especially the HibeesBounce members and admin team who do so much unsung work to help refugees and charities like the Dniprokids appeal in Ukraine, I offer my sincere apology.

I was quick to make a private apology to HibeesBounce. I offered to meet them face to face to make peace. I’m delighted to hear they’ve taken those old posts down.

In my opinion, there’s no place for any kind of racist or pro-Nazi language on any football website, even if it’s posted as ‘banter’, even if there’s worse on other teams’ sites, which there undoubtedly is.

I’ve said I’m sorry. Now let’s all re-discover our sense of humour and get rid of the rhetoric on both sides.

That’s the Hibs way.