Bhoys won’t gloat, vows Lennon

If Motherwell fail to beat Kilmarnock at Rugby Park today, the Hoops can win the title at the home of their greatest rivals for the first time since 1967.

That is the scenario the authorities have dreaded since the 1999 Old Firm “shame game” when there was trouble on and off the pitch when Rangers won 3-0 at Celtic Park to clinch the championship.

The Celtic boss though, who hopes winger James Forrest (ankle) and Gary Hooper (dead leg) recover for the trip to Govan, moved to take some heat out of what could potentially be an incendiary situation.

“If we win the title on Sunday we will enjoy the moment but we won’t be there to gloat,” he said.

“The last thing we want to do is rub it in people’s faces. We will be respectful of everyone at the stadium. It doesn’t matter when it (the title win) comes or where it comes it will be celebrated regardless, there will be a lot of euphoria, a lot of joy and a lot of pride.

“But we will be there to celebrate among ourselves then we look forward to a home game against St Johnstone were we can relax and enjoy what we have achieved.

The Irishman was critical of this week’s media coverage of the infamous 1999 game, best remembered for the mayhem and chaos which enveloped the east end of Glasgow.

A lasting image is of referee Hugh Dallas requiring treatment for a cut to the forehead after being hit by a missile from the Celtic section of the ground while one Hoops fan was thwarted in his attempt to attack the official.

The former Celtic skipper revealed that Strathclyde Police have spoken to both clubs this week with a view to pre-empting any such problems.

“I think they visited both clubs and it was basically a reminder and as they said, they have been delighted with the way both sets of players have handed the games this season and I don’t see Sunday being any different.”

The Parkhead manager confirmed the Scottish Football Association’s Compliance Officer, Vincent Lunny, has written to him asking for an explanation for his post-match comments following last week’s Scottish Communities League Cup final defeat by Kilmarnock at Hampden.

Lennon described as “criminal” referee Willie Collum’s decision not to award the Hoops a penalty in the closing moments when Hoops striker Anthony Stokes went down inside the box under a challenge from Killie defender Michael Nelson.

The former Northern Ireland midfielder was unrepentant, saying he “absolutely” stood by his comments.

Meanwhile Ally McCoist admits Rangers are in the unusual position of being underdogs for an Old Firm derby at home but he insists Celtic’s status as favourites could count for nothing.

McCoist said: “I would maybe suggest they were bigger favourites on Sunday against Kilmarnock. Once that first whistle goes, you don’t know who’s favourites and who’s second favourites. It’s a game of football that anybody could win.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox