A pub has been ordered to ditch a sign describing tomorrow’s Auld Enemy clash at Wembley as “Scotland vs Them” amid concerns that it may be offensive.
The listing was displayed on a blackboard in the sports bar at the Royal MacKintosh Hotel in Dunbar to promote its big screen coverage of the match between Scotland and England.
But police told bosses at the East Lothian bar it might upset people and should be removed.
The intervention came under fire from local politicians and the Tartan Army yesterday, who insisted that officers should have more of a “sense of humour”.
Hotel boss Cliff McArthur said: “The police arrived and the police officer said to me ‘Who’s them?’
“That was the first thing he said to me, I said, ‘I’m sorry what do you mean?’ He said, ‘who’s them?’ Again I said, ‘I’m really sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about’.”
Mr McArthur was then asked to accompany the officer down to the bar area. “I walked round the corner and one of the young bar lads had put up on the blackboard, ‘Wednesday night football – Scotland versus Them’ .”
Mr McArthur said no-one made a complaint to hotel staff about the description and said it had only been meant as a “bit of fun. The police were being very serious and said, ‘If one of my English colleagues had seen this you’d be in serious trouble.’ ”
But the approach was branded over the top by local SNP councillor for Dunbar and East Linton Paul MacLennan who is travelling down to tomorrow night’s match with the Tartan Army.
“I just think that’s political correctness gone crazy – totally crazy,” he said. “I know for a fact that they have lots of English guys who stay there anyway as contractors. There’s always that bit of banter about football – it’s never any more than that.
“I’ve lived in Dunbar all my life and even when it comes to the Old Firm or Hibs/Hearts, football, rivalry has never gone overboard. I just think that’s daft. It’s a football rivalry and no more.”
Tartan Army spokesman Hamish Husband also called for a more measured approach.
“Of course the police should have had a bit of a sense of humour about it,” he said. “The proper historical term for the England team is the Auld Enemy – would they have taken offence at that?”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said the force had no record of any official visit from officers to the hotel.
The Scotland-England clash is the oldest in international football but has not been played since 1999. There have been concerns that bagpipes would be banned for the revival of the historic fixture tomorrow to celebrate the FA’s 150th anniversary.
The rumour was denied by the FA, but it said it would listen to requests from the “proper channels” on the playing of bagpipes and look to make provisions where possible. Bagpipes have been played at Wembley by Scotland fans since 1928
UK Europe minister David Lidington even pledged to raise the bagpipe row at UK cabinet level during a recent appearance before MSPs at Holyrood.
“I’ve no idea what the rationale is – I’ll have a word with the sports minister in London about this. But my understanding is that Her Majesty the Queen likes to be awoken by bagpipes every morning – whether in Holyrood or Buckingham Palace.
“I’d have thought what’s good enough for the Queen ought to be good enough for the FA.”