Scottish football’s reputation will be damaged by games like Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby, warns Hearts’ Peter Haring, who fears supporters will need to be enclosed if they continue to misbehave.
Some European grounds, notably in Germany, erect netting to protect players from fans.
Austrian Haring, who donned the captain’s armband against Hibs at Tynecastle, was a stunned bystander as his team-mate Zdenek ‘Bobby’ Zlamal was struck by an away fan and Easter Road boss Neil Lennon was hit by a coin thrown by a home supporter. Haring said that he has never witnessed scenes like it.
“I don’t know what people are thinking when they do this,” said the 25-year-old. “I’ve never seen a goalkeeper getting punched by a fan or someone throwing a coin at people. No-one wants to see it.”
The launching of projectiles was not an isolated incident. Witnesses report that Hearts and Hibs fans, players, officials and coaches were all targeted.
“I think the atmosphere here in the Edinburgh derby is really, really special but things like this shouldn’t happen in a football stadium,” said Haring. “It is bad for the image of football, not only for Scottish football. The same thing happened in Austria three or four months ago. There was a linesman that was hit by a coin. What can you do against people throwing a coin?”
He said that the incident in Austria resulted in the culprit being banned and he hopes that punishment will be meted out here to prevent a repeat.
“The atmosphere was great and our fans are great but even if there’s just one or two people who behave wrong, that’s enough,” added Haring. “I think it’s not the main crowd who are behaving wrong. Most of the time it’s just a handful of people.”
But he admits he was worried for his colleague when he saw Zlamal floored when he went to retrieve the ball in front of the Hibs end.
“I just saw Bobby lying on the floor. I was thinking ‘what’s going on?’ He stood up and he looked alright but those things shouldn’t happen. That’s disgusting and it’s not football.
“No-one wants to lose the atmosphere. Everyone who comes here to Tynecastle for the first time, those who are coming from Austria come here and they love it. It’s something really special that you’re close to the pitch. That’s how it should be and why we have that atmosphere in our stadium. Everyone loves it. The players on the pitch, the supporters in the stands, everyone. But, if things like that happen, things like what happened to Jimmy Dunne against Aberdeen, and what happened to Bobby, they’ll put supporters behind something.”
The match finished goalless but Haring says that Hearts gave everything, despite missing key players.
“I played up front which was very surprising. It was funny because I came here as a centre back. Even the move to central midfield was a little bit surprising. But [manager Craig Levein] told me in the morning what he was thinking and I said ‘if that’s where you need me the most then I’m gonna give my everything’. ”