HEARTS stars have joined in criticism of Hibs over the sacking of their stadium announcer for poking fun at the Tynecastle club’s financial plight.
Former Forth radio DJ Willie Docherty was axed after he played a snippet of Beatles track Taxman during the half-time break in the 2-1 win against Dundee United on Sunday.
Hibs have accused him of “wilfully” ignoring instructions not to poke fun at Hearts.
But his dismissal led to a wave of online support from fans and players of both Hibs and Hearts who viewed the jibe as “banter” and the club’s move as an “over the top” reaction.
Tynecastle player Ryan McGowan tweeted: “I can’t believe Hibs have sacked the stadium announcer for a bit of banter.”
And former Hearts favourite Craig Beattie tweeted: “Sacked for having a bit of banter at half time on Sat, his bosses need to have a good look at themselves!! #chinupDJ”.
A Facebook page and Twitter hashtag set up with a view to pressuring the club into reinstating the lifelong fan also garnered hundreds of supporters in just a matter of hours.
But the club has moved to clarify its reasons behind the dismissal and has denied they had anything to do with “offended supporters of another club”.
Instead it claims Mr Docherty, who is contracted from an outside firm, disregarded instructions not to reference their city rivals’ current situation.
It is also understood he previously received a dressing-down from club chiefs after playing an unedited version of the Green Day track “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” during an underage game at the stadium.
A spokesman said: “The action has been taken because the individual chose to wilfully disregard specific instructions given in the pre-match briefing which itself was consistent with guidance given during the week in the run-up to the match.
“Before our recent home match against Dundee United specific instructions were given. The individual concerned has admitted that he deliberately breached the terms of the instructions.
“This is not an issue about having or not having a sense of humour.”
Docherty isn’t the only stadium announcer to find himself in hot water. The PA announcer for Falkirk FC was suspended from his job in August after referring to Rangers as the “Sevco Franchise”.
He made the comment about the Glasgow club at Falkirk’s game against Raith Rovers in August. Liverpool’s George Sephton also caused a commotion in 2001 when he played Arrivederci Roma following the Italian club’s exit at Anfield. Then-manager Gérard Houllier was forced to defend himself, saying: “I don’t pick the music.”
Former Wales boss Mark Hughes also became incensed with a Polish PA announcer in 2000 following his then Wales side’s 0-0 draw. The Welshman believed the DJ was geeing up local supporters.