Celtic manager Neil Lennon is considering aborting his spying missions to Scottish grounds after being pelted with missiles during Saturday’s League Cup semi-final at Tynecastle.
Lennon confirmed he had coins and cups of liquid thrown at him and suffered abuse as he sat in the directors’ box surrounded by Aberdeen fans, who were watching their team beat St Johnstone 4-0.
Lennon, who was sitting next to Hearts assistant manager Billy Brown and Celtic coach Garry Parker, feared for the safety of himself and those around him before leaving shortly after the Dons netted a third goal in the 62nd minute.
Lennon, whose team host Aberdeen in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round next Saturday, said: “I think it was drink-fuelled. About 30 minutes into the game a coin whistled past my head and actually hit a gentleman in front of me on his back and he’s an Aberdeen fan.
“At half-time we were thinking about leaving, but they said, ’look, we’ve got you seats closer to the press box’. So again, you don’t mind the abuse, you can take that because you get that up and down the country.
“Then, when the third goal went in, a drink, I don’t know what it was or what it was in, flew over our heads and landed in the press box. It hit two journalists and splashed all over their computers.
“We decided then, we weren’t forced to leave, it was said it was best to leave for our own safety, and the safety of people sitting around us as well.”
Lennon, who did not feel the abuse was sectarian, had thought he would be safe.
He added: “It makes me think twice about going to games if that’s the type of thing that’s going to happen.”
The 42-year-old has been the victim of a number of crimes during his time at Celtic, the most serious of which saw two men jailed for five years for sending him parcel bombs.
The Celtic fans showed their support to Lennon with a special reception during the 18th minute of their team’s 1-0 win over St Mirren yesterday, secured by Kris Commons’ fifth-minute strike.
Lennon, who wore the No 18 as a Celtic player, said: “Fantastic. I can’t thank them enough for that.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved