You're suggesting an own goal in your Telegraph column, Gail
Published 04/04/2008 | 00:00
I have followed Linfield for more than 40 years, so my thoughts may be seen as somewhat biased.
But I want to say that I am disgusted that anyone, least of all an innocent man going about his business, should end up in intensive care, or that a man, who has given as much to Cliftonville and Irish League football as Eddie Patterson, should be subject to any threats whatever.
And when people speak out in condemnation of these things, well maybe they should be applauded instead of being dismissed, as in Gail Walker's column (Belfast Telegraph, April 1). Then comes the thinly veiled assertion, without a shred of hard evidence, that the threat to Eddie Patterson came from a Linfield supporter.
Gail fails to mention the tireless efforts of the IFA' community relations officer, Michael Boyd. Or the efforts of all Irish League clubs (yes, and even the tyrant Linfield) to 'boot out sectarianism'. Or that Linfield (and I'm proud to say this) are one of the most mixed religion football clubs in Ireland.
Maybe she should have made the effort to find out what happened at the semi final on Saturday, when some 4,000 Cliftonville and Linfield fans didn't even give a hint of trouble — the Linfield fans even applauding Eddie and his team off the pitch at the end of the match. Shocking, isn't it?
And of course, the 'answer' to football hooliganism — let's 'blow the final whistle on the whole shebang' (her words).
Never mind the thousands who follow their teams every Saturday and wouldn't even think about causing any bother. Never mind the kids affiliated to Irish League clubs who might otherwise be finding less wholesome ways to spend their evenings and weekends.
Never mind the strong inter community bonds that have been formed by Irish League and Eircom League clubs.
Never mind the older folk for whom following Irish League football is a way of life.
Never mind the many friendships that have been formed between supporters of the same and rival clubs.
Let's throw it all away.
I wonder if, at the height of the Troubles, all decent people should have 'blown the whistle on the whole Northern Ireland shebang' and emigrated, just — using your logic - to show the bully boys that we're not for giving in to them.