Comment: Hearts-Hibs derby has so much to offer - but a line has been crossed

No matter how grim the match itself was, neanderthal behaviour in the stands should never be allowed to become the overriding theme of any Edinburgh derby.

Thursday, 1st November 2018, 11:51 am
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 1:53 pm
Scenes from last night's Edinburgh derby. Pictures: SNS Group
Scenes from last night's Edinburgh derby. Pictures: SNS Group

Unfortunately that was the case at Tynecastle as the actions of a couple of out-of-control idiots brought shame on their clubs.

A Hibs supporter in the Roseburn Stand took a swipe at Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal, while a Hearts fan decked Hibs manager Neil Lennon with a coin thrown from the main stand.

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There can be no excuse for the antics of either of these half-wits, and they deserve everything coming their way, if and when they are identified.

The Edinburgh derby has always been fuelled primarily by passion - it is one of its main selling points.

As Hearts manager Craig Levein said afterwards, the singing, the shouting and the swearing is all part and parcel of football, particularly highly-charged fixtures like derby matches.

There is no need to sanitise any of that, as long as the chants are not fuelled by racism, sectarianism or someone’s death, as has sadly been the case in the past from both sets of supporters.

Those who have attended the Edinburgh derby regularly through the years will know that they are rarely entertaining and more often than not the enjoyment of the fixture comes from the barminess, both in the stands and on the pitch.

There has to be a line, however, and on this occasion it was crossed by at least one supporter from both of these two old rivals.

A goalkeeper should not be attacked while trying to retrieve the ball from the crowd.

Likewise, a manager is not fair game to be pelted with a coin just because he has the audacity to celebrate his derby rivals having a goal disallowed.

Some will say Lennon merited what came his way because he was goading the home support.

The simple fact is that the vast majority of Hearts fans - no matter how riled they were by his wind-up antics - were able to keep their coins in their pocket. One idiot wasn’t.

As the Hibs manager alluded to afterwards, he takes relentless stick whenever he enters Tynecastle.

Lennon is a passionate man and if he doesn’t want to be cowed by those who bay for his misfortune, he is entitled to give a bit back now and again without risking a coin catching him in the eye.

The Edinburgh derby is ferocious and edgy by nature, but it usually remains - just about - within the realms of acceptability.

On this occasion, the boundaries were clearly breached, casting the Capital’s showpiece match in an unsavoury light nationwide and beyond.

It is depressing that the lunatic fringe have stolen the agenda in the aftermath of a meeting between two upwardly-mobile clubs who deserve to be commanding headlines for wholly positive reasons.