Hibernian midfielder Marvin Bartley has experienced ten Edinburgh derbies during his three-and-a-half years at Easter Road but says that Wednesday night’s incident-packed draw at Tynecastle was the most volatile capital clash he has been involved in.
While passions were running high on the pitch, it was the controversial actions of a few moronic fans that dominated headlines in the wake of the head to head, as Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal and Hibs manager Neil Lennon were both assaulted, while other players and officials were targeted by troublemakers throwing coins, keys and lighters from the stands.
Bartley revealed that a coin had been thrown at him, while some of his team-mates were also targeted.
“There were things coming on the pitch,” said the midfielder, who captained the Easter Road club on the night. “I think something has happened to Lewy [Lewis Stevenson] and something has been thrown at Boyler [Martin Boyle] as well so I think today was the worst since I have been playing in these derbies.
“I had a coin thrown at me after the game and it’s just gone across the front of me and you think to yourself I can put up with the abuse but when people act like that there is no place for it. If it hits me it’s going to scar me, open me up especially at the pace it’s thrown down at me.
“I don’t think people think about stuff like that. They throw a coin and big it up, thinking, ‘look at what I have done’. But if they catch you in the wrong place… as I said there’s no place for it in football.”
A combative player, Bartley is happy to wage war on the pitch and has even been known to indulge in social media trolling of Hearts in the past, but the Englishman said that while banter and tribalism is acceptable, some of those packed into the Gorgie stands on Wednesday crossed the line between supporting their team and endangering the safety of players, coaches and officials, as well as fellow fans due to their hate-fuelled thuggery.
Bombarded by missiles during the hard-fought contest, a Hibs fan then stunned Zlamal by punching him as he retrieved the ball during the second half and, although the Czech keeper picked himself up and continued with the game, there was even more to come when Hibs boss Lennon was struck on the jaw by a coin and collapsed to the ground, causing the game to be held up.
“Obviously we didn’t know what had happened,” said Bartley. “But he looked out, he wasn’t moving. The referee said he was going to stop the game but the gaffer got up and the game went on, there were only five minutes left.
“It’s not something you want to see in football, in a football stadium. I get it’s a derby but people have to be more responsible in their actions. Thankfully he is OK.
“You can get involved in the atmosphere without throwing coins or anything else. There is no place for it. I think the supporters around [the guilty parties] should say who it was because there’s no time or place for it.
“Everyone wants to win, everyone is passionate but there’s no time for that.”
But he said that rather than pointing the finger at clubs, who can only do so much to prevent such mindless acts, the ultimate responsibility for cleaning things up lies with those who perpetrate the offences.
“Maybe they need to grow up a little bit, maybe act as adults. You cannot blame the stewards or the police because if someone wants to do something like that then it happens so quickly you can’t stop them. But maybe they should grow up and support their teams rather than doing something silly like that.”
Hibs secured a 0-0 draw despite being reduced to ten men with just under half an hour remaining but Bartley accepts that few people were talking about the football after the game and says the fact that players were left concerned for their safety is something that needs to be addressed. “We will take a draw especially after having Flo [Kamberi] sent off. The lads defended well after he went off so we are probably more pleased than they are with it,” he added.
“But when you are worried about your safety on a football pitch rather than the game then something is not right. Luckily everyone is safe and the gaffer is OK.”