MSPs keen to repeal the Football Act may now be having second thoughts

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HOW SHOULD an absorbing and thrilling Scottish Cup final encounter ideally end? Certainly with some on-field celebrations involving only players and staff, frenetic if banal radio and television interviews, a patient if torturous wait by the losers to accept their runners-up medals, and the winners to celebrate in style and with magnanimity. We should expect responsible behaviour from all supporters and firm but fair supervision from police and stewards.

I agree with the broad tenor of Brian Monteith’s remarks (Perspective, 23 May) but a remarkable day for Hibernian football club may yet come back to haunt them with a serious penalty for some of their fans’ behaviour.

Mr Monteith did not mention the implications of all this for the forthcoming Holyrood opposition challenge to the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act. This legislation has a broad purpose. It is not to outlaw particular songs or chants, it is to provide a framework which gives the police the powers to deal with some of the very worst aspects of bigotry and intimidation in one of the country’s most popular sports.

The post-match events at Hampden on Saturday reflect a malaise, a poison that remains a scourge on society north of the Border. James Kelly MSP, who wants to use the changed parliamentary arithmetic at Holyrood to get the law repealed, now has cause to think again.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court, Glenrothes

No-one can condone any behaviour which is loutish and no Hibernian supporter – as I have been since my first visit to Easter Road in 1952 – would absolve those whose behaviour tarnished the victory. But it is far from as simple as the losers suggest. Were there not Rangers fans on the field? Did they not contribute to euphoria from the Hibs fans becoming confrontational?

The near hysterical suggestions of punishment come as rather hollow from a club whose supporters trashed Manchester in a display of malice far removed from what was sheer joy at 114 years of hurt being expunged.

Alastair Symington

Cavendish Place, Troon

Returning from Hampden to Glasgow Central Station en route to Edinburgh, and in light of the events we had just seen on the pitch, I was a little worried as my nine-year-old grandson was wearing a Hibs baseball cap and under his jacket a Hibs shirt.

When at last the previously segregated fans began to mix I became more concerned, and when I saw a large and tough-looking fan bedecked in Rangers colours approach I stiffened and braced myself for possible trouble.

My faith in human nature was restored when the fan clapped my grandson on the shoulder and said: “Well done, wee man! Your team deserved it.” Smiles all round.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Watching the wonderful celebrations to mark Hibernian’s lifting of the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902, I was reminded of the fact that it was 101 years to the day that the Quintinshill rail crash took place, what is still the UK’s worst rail disaster.

This was a disaster that had a major impact on Leith and the Hibs team at the time. On 22 May, 1915, a train packed with troops travelling from Larbert, collided with a local passenger service at Quintinshill, just outside Gretna Green.

Straight afterwards, a Glasgow-bound express train smashed into the wreckage at the Quintinshill signal box, setting off a devastating fire which engulfed the troop train, packed with nearly 500 members of the Leith Battalion of the Royal Scots.

More than 200 soldiers and 12 civilians were killed and a further 246 people were injured.

The troops were on their way to Liverpool, where they were due to sail to the front line in Gallipoli. The majority of young people on the train were from the Leith area, and a great many of them will have been Hibernian supporters or had strong connections to the club. The impact on the community of Leith and further afield was enormous, with so many families touched.

With Leith coming together to mark an historic Scottish Cup win for Hibs, we should also spare a thought for a tight-knit community which came together under clearly more adverse circumstances over a century ago, and became even stronger because of it.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

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