Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Shore Road the wrong path for Willie Fraser

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Willie Fraser of the UPF (right) as Saturday's game at Seaview is called off due to loyalist protests
Willie Fraser of the UPF (right) as Saturday's game at Seaview is called off due to loyalist protests

There have been better days at Seaview and there have been infinitely worse.

 

Saturday brought back shocking memories of lives lost during games there; 69-year-old Martha McAlpine, in 1978 by IRA gunmen aiming at police on traffic duty and later in 1980, Reserve Constable David Purse (43), shot, again by the IRA, on crowd control during a game between Crusaders and Portadown.

Incredible as it now seems, the game restarted after the shooting stopped, only to be later abandoned.

The Provos at their murderous worst never actually managed to prevent a football match going ahead in the darkest days of the conflict.

In yet another irony of the peace, on Saturday, their bitter opponent Willie Frazer was part of a rent-a-mob which did just that, forcing the abandonment of the Crusaders-Cliftonville top of the table Irish League match.

Willie clearly has his reasons for travelling all the way from South Armagh to North Belfast to be offended on someone else's behalf. He and his disruptive band may claim that street protest, among other things, brought his opponents their rewards today — in a position to lower his flag and diminish his Britishness.

It could also be argued that decades of the worst excesses got the Provos precisely nowhere, until, too late for many, they gave up and left it to the electorate to decide.

Like it or not, that is why they are where they are, at the heart of the decision-making process while their hopelessly wrong-footed opponents stop football matches in a fit of futile grandstanding that will ultimately change nothing.

So forget the Shore Road, Willie. Take the democratic road. See how far you get.

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