Neil Lennon and Craig Levein condemn derby ‘cowards’

Craig Levein looks on as 'Hibs manager Neil Lennon is helped to his feet after appearing to be struck by an object. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Craig Levein looks on as 'Hibs manager Neil Lennon is helped to his feet after appearing to be struck by an object. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
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Hibs manager Neil Lennon has lambasted the “cowards” who struck him with a coin and attacked Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal during an ill-tempered Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.

The Easter Road boss fell to the ground after the missile from the main stand hit him during stoppage time as he turned to celebrate a Hearts goal being disallowed in a game that ended 0-0. He said that, while he did not expect the clubs to bear the brunt of the culprits’ moronic behaviour, he did want to see tougher punishments introduced.

“I don’t blame the club, you can’t legislate for the hatred of some individuals or the badness,” Lennon said. “What 
possesses people to throw things on the football pitch I will never know.

“I believe Zlamal was hit as well and it’s just ridiculous. We do not defend that behaviour from our supporters and hopefully both individuals will be singled out. I would like to meet the individual who threw a coin at me someday because I am not happy about it at all. It’s just badness. Badness.

“The referee might have had some missiles thrown at him as well. It’s just blackening the name of both clubs and Scottish football. This should be a showpiece game. It was feisty, intimidating, everything you would expect. But if people can’t behave themselves they should be singled out and embarrassed and humiliated because they humiliated the club.”

It is the second time Lennon has been attacked at Tynecastle, the first having been in 2011 while he was manager of 
Celtic.

“Maybe we need stricter or tougher punishments,” the Hibs manager added. “I don’t know what you would call that. Is it assault? Maybe a custodial sentence would do them 
nicely. I would go and visit him in jail! It was totally uncalled for. It was cowardly and I have to think of my safety. My jaw is really throbbing. At the time you are stunned and then the adrenaline keeps going but now that it has settled down, it is really sore.”

Hearts manager Craig Levein also condemned the hooliganism which saw his goalkeeper struck by a fan in the away end of the ground during the 
second half.

“Bobby [Zlamal] says someone struck him and it looks like Neil has been hit by a coin. It just saddens me, really,” 
Levein said.

“Both sets of players are doing well at this moment in time, they don’t want to get beat, tension is high, aggression is evident throughout the match on the field.

“But there’s no place for things like that. You can sing and shout and swear all you like, but… I got a fright when I saw Lenny on the ground.

“I hope they catch whoever it was who threw it. It doesn’t matter what team they support, they need to be dealt with.”