Hearts v Hibs is a proper derby: Stop throwing stuff or it’ll be the fans that are chucked out

The actions of fans during the match on Wednesday need to stop

My intel is, I think, pretty good. I’ve got a witness who was standing nearby. He had an excellent view of the flying Tynecastle pie.

The only issue is my son cannot be sure this was the pie picked up by the Hearts captain who then pretended to take a bite out of it. There were so many missiles and more than one pie.

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It is my son’s friend who claims to have thrown what’s become known as The Lawrence Shankland Pie. Archie reckons his pal has been dining out overmuch on the notoriety, having passed up the opportunity to dine out on the match-day snack. And he added: “I think what really happened is that [name protected] threw what we will henceforth refer to as The Kenneth Vargas Pie.”

Lawrence Shankland inspects the objects thrown at him during Hearts v Hibs on Wednesday.Lawrence Shankland inspects the objects thrown at him during Hearts v Hibs on Wednesday.
Lawrence Shankland inspects the objects thrown at him during Hearts v Hibs on Wednesday.

Okay, he didn’t use the word ‘henceforth’. Hardly anyone does now and maybe the only place you might see it is on court charge sheets, although I have no intention of getting in touch with last Wednesday’s match commander and dobbing in the pie-hurler. Everything else, though, is true and in case you think I’m making light of the incident I did remind the boys that anything chucked from the stands might cause injury. After all, that crust could be rock hard.

Okay, I am making light of the incident. But only up to a point. A player might indeed have been hurt by one of the coins, vapes or bottle openers which rained down in the Edinburgh derby. That would have got Hibs into trouble and the endgame could have been the end of this game as we know it: a ban on away fans the next time the rivals meet.

With Celtic having whipped the welcome mat from under Rangers supporters, and the latter’s greeting to the Hoops contingent being “You’ll have had your Bovril”, Hibs vs Hearts is currently the SPFL’s biggest bona fide derby. A derby cannot be a derby when only followers of one team get to sing their songs ad nauseam and without interruption, like some 1970s prog-rock buffoons indulging themselves across the whole of a triple album, drum solos and all.

The away fans properly bring the noise to Tynecastle and Easter Road. Without them, these occasions wouldn’t be the assaults on the senses they are at the moment and have been since the typical football fan stopped wearing a tie to matches and clapped good play by both sides. It’s the assaults on players the fixture might have to be worried about.

An airpod was one of the items chucked at the Hearts captain.An airpod was one of the items chucked at the Hearts captain.
An airpod was one of the items chucked at the Hearts captain.

The array of different objects whizzing past Shankland as he awaited VAR’s judgement on the penalty must have had the striker feeling like Bruce Forsyth on The Generation Game (note to younger readers: this was a TV game show where, as Brucie presided over a conveyor belt, an array of different objects whizzed past). There was no cuddly toy for Shankland and maybe that’s where those Hibs fans went wrong.

A cannonade of synthetic fur toy animals would have made their point about the most outrageous spot-kick decision of the season in a safer, subtler way – like anti-Vietnam War protesters sticking flowers down the gun barrels of the National Guard. Demonstrating their keen sense of history, the Hibbies should have evoked the spirit of the hippies.

Have you ever thrown anything at a match? Maybe you don’t want to say but I’ll come clean and admit that, yes, in my youth there were two such moments, not born out of anger but joy unconfined.

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One was a Hibs-Motherwell game at Easter Road in 1969 which would never have been played today. The pitch was entirely snowbound as were the terracing steps and all the stadium’s approach roads. Regarding wintry conditions back then, football did not treat players or spectators like, well, snowflakes. I joined the fans who chucked snowballs. We weren’t trying to hit any of the players, simply expressing our delight at what – for me and I’m sure most of the boys my age – was the first time the iconic orange ball had been required.

Around the same period the great Joe McBride scored a hat-trick against Lokomotive Leipzig. That was my first match unaccompanied by my father who was working so of course I headed straight round to Easter Road’s Cowshed which had always looked so frighteningly exciting from my normal vantage point.

I thought I’d better come prepared. Indeed I had maybe wondered if entry to the Cowshed was conditional on production of a loo roll. One of Izal’s best, unforgiving in its intended function, rough and yet strong enough for my purpose: to soar through the night sky and cascade over the crossbar. An Andrex roll couldn’t do this. Soft as those Labrador pups in the TV ads, it would undoubtedly have torn and the boot-boys would have taunted me for being middle class, which I indeed was. But the Izal, nicked from the school bogs, flew in a perfect arc, landing in the mud-caked six-yard box in celebration of McBride’s third goal.

No one was hurt by my throwing, unlike the young fan at an Aberdeen-Celtic game at Pittodrie in that era. A newspaper photograph I’ve never forgotten showed him being carried off the terracing by a policeman, a dart lodged in the bridge of his nose close to an eye.

The Edinburgh derby is a thundering affair, often bigger on atmosphere than qualify football, and I want it to continue in that fashion. Stop chucking stuff, guys. Eat those pies.



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