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Linfield probe PA playing of the tune of 'Billy Boys' at Big Two derby

By Claire O'Boyle

Published 14/01/2017

Linfield’s Jimmy Callacher tries to block a shot from Curtis Allen of Glentoran during the Boxing Day clash
Linfield’s Jimmy Callacher tries to block a shot from Curtis Allen of Glentoran during the Boxing Day clash

Linfield Football Club has launched an investigation into the playing of the music to the sectarian anthem The Billy Boys at a Boxing Day match.

The Blues banned fans from singing the offensive song several years ago, but the tune was blasted over the club's PA system at the Big Two derby against Glentoran on December 26.

Management at the club has now apologised for the mistake, and vowed to ensure it didn't happen again.

A Linfield fan said he was appalled when he heard songs being played which included not only The Billy Boys, but also a song with the lyrics "we hate Glentoran", and another called Hatchets And Hammers.

"I was absolutely astonished when I heard the songs being played," he said.

"It was a disgraceful show and I'm glad the club have finally responded.

"It could have started a riot."

A Linfield spokesman said: "As soon as we became aware of the issue we took action to stop the playing of the songs during this pre-match period.

"The club has started an internal investigation."

A statement explained a CD played over the Tannoy came from the Windsor Roar project, a semi-official supporters' group aimed at changing fans' behaviour by swapping sectarian language for "family friendly lyrics" in some terrace chants.

"Whilst the perception of some may have been that offensive music was being played on Boxing Day, Linfield can categorically state that this was not the intention," added the spokesman.

Fans watching the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw, said the original lyrics - which include the line "we're up to our knees in Fenian blood, surrender or you die" - were replaced.

However, the club reissued its position that all variations of the song, sung to the tune of American Civil War song Marching Through Georgia, and even the tune itself, are unacceptable.

"We are working hard to enhance the match day experience at our new stadium," said the spokesman.

"We are committed to ensuring Windsor Park continues to reflect the history and ethos of our great club and that the stadium entertainment both on and off the pitch provides us with excitement and more great memories for the future."

In 2014 Linfield were told they would face "severe punitive sanctions" if fans sing The Billy Boys at matches.

The Irish FA warned that the singing of all variations of the song could lead to games being played behind closed doors.

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