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James McClean abused for not wearing poppy - footballer attacks 'uneducated cavemen' quoting Bobby Sands

Footage shows Middlesbrough fans being pushed back by stewards following 0-0 draw with Stoke

James McClean
James McClean

By Tom Embury-Dennis

James McClean has described a section of supporters “uneducated cavemen” after the Stoke City footballer suffered a torrent of abuse for refusing to wear a Remembrance Day poppy.

Footage posted on social media showed Middlesbrough supporters in a corner of Stoke’s best365 Stadium hurl abuse at the Republic of Ireland international, who came on as a late substitute in the 0-0 draw between the two sides on Saturday afternoon.

As McClean made his way to the players’ tunnel, Middlesbrough supporters booed the winger and unleashed a stream of invective, as stewards pushed a number of fans – all of them men – back from the perimeter fence.

Late on Saturday night, McClean, who was also booed by some home fans, responded by quoting IRA man and MP Bobby Sands who died on hunger strike in 1981.

“They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken,” McClean wrote, quoting Sands.

He continued: “Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst… to the home fans that are actually educated and support me, thank you.

“To the section of uneducated cavemen in the left-hand corner of the Boothen End stand that want to song their anti-Irish song each game and call me a Fenian this and that... I am a PROUD FENIAN no #### will ever change that, so sing away.”

Stoke manager Gary Rowett defended his player and accused away fans of using it as an opportunity to “goad somebody”.

"It's his belief and he's strong enough to come out and with his belief, whether you agree with it or not,” he told the Stoke Sentinel.

McClean had confirmed earlier in the week he would not wear a poppy, a decision he has made every year - and been abused for - since first moving to England to join Sunderland in 2011.

Manchester United's Nemanja Matic also did not wear a poppy on his shirt for the game against Bournemouth. He has worn the symbol in the past. His club would only say he made the decision for "personal reasons" which the club respected.

Independent News Service

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