Celtic stars show support for James McClean over poppy furore

Republic of Ireland star James McClean donned a Celtic top following the furore of Stoke City's clash with Middlesbrough where the player's decision to opt against wearing a poppy on his shirt hit the headlines.

The 29-year-old faced abuse from the travelling support as well as his own fans during Stoke’s 0-0 draw with Boro.

He took to Instagram to display his defiance in two posts and issue a message to those who abused him, including “the section of uneducated cavemen” among his own support, something which was supported by a host of Celtic stars, including Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown and Jonny Hayes.

James McClean was given support from Celtic players. Picture: SNS/Paul Devlin

Each season McClean is criticised for his stance not to wear a poppy on his shirt during Remembrance Day commemorations.

During his time at Wigan Athletic he player, who is from Derry in Northern Ireland, wrote a letter in 2014 to explain his decision.

It read: “I have complete respect for those who fought and died in both World Wars - many I know were Irish-born.

“But the Poppy is used to remember victims of other conflicts since 1945 and this is where the problem starts for me.

James McClean's Instagram post following the weekend's game. Picture: James McClean/Instragram

“For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different... when you come from Creggan like myself or the Bogside, Brandywell or the majority of places in Derry, every person still lives in the shadow of one of the darkest days in Ireland’s history – even if like me you were born nearly 20 years after the event. It is just a part of who we are, ingrained into us from birth.

“For me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles – and Bloody Sunday especially - as I have in the past been accused of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII.

“It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people.

“I am not a war monger, or anti-British, or a terrorist or any of the accusations levelled at me in the past. I am a peaceful guy, I believe everyone should live side by side, whatever their religious or political beliefs which I respect and ask for people to respect mine in return. Since last year, I am a father and I want my daughter to grow up in a peaceful world, like any parent.”

The player posted a picture of himself wearing a Celtic top. Picture: James McClean/Instragram

Following Saturday’s Championship clash he posted a message on his Instagram account to those who abused him during the game.

He wrote: “‘They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken.’

“Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst.

“To the section of uneducated cavemen in left hand corner of the boothen end stand that want to song their anti irish song each game and call me a fenian this and that.. i am a PROUD FENIAN no [email protected]#t will ever change that, so sing away.”

It as liked by Celtic captain Brown and winger Hayes.

He posted a second image on Sunday wearing a Celtic top with his wife and three kids which was liked by Tierney, Mikael Lustig, Cristian Gamboa and Mikey Johnston.

The message said “What matters most” with an accompanying green love heart.