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Crafty Cummings Naive not Nasty

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Unfortunately I will never experience the joy of scoring a goal at the home of our greatest rivals. For those who do though, especially at the Gorgie Road end, the sense of jubilation will likely never be felt again.

We’ve seen some great celebrations through the years – who can forget Geebsie and the crowd going mental when he ended THAT run, Sauzee running the length of the pitch to celebrate with the 3800 strong Hibs support in the Roseburn Stand during the Millenium derby or a few years later with O’Connor and Shiels sliding joyously in front of the Hibee faithful when we won 2-1.

In the efforts of fairness the Jambos, unfortunately, will have plentiful memories of players scoring against us. I’ve tended to try to erase them all from my memory though with the exception of Saturday’s equaliser for reasons that we’ll come to later in this piece.

So what of it, do fans really get that worked up by opposing players celebrating in front of them?

It’s part of the game, no? If you can’t shout and gesticulate towards your opponents then what’s the point? Also if you can’t accept it back when a player scores against you then I’d suggest that you take up croquet or cricket.

Jason Cummings being pulled up by the compliance officer after Sundays Edinburgh Derby is a sign of the times. Time where football has become too soft, the world has become too politically correct and the enjoyment has been taken out of a day out with your mates.

In the Edinburgh Derby sense I use the word enjoyment with slight trepidation but I am sure you all know what I mean.

Here we have a young lad who was with Hearts as a youngster, grew up as a Jambo but was subsequently dumped by the club when he suffered a horrific injury. Left on the scrapheap he was so angered and disappointed by the way he was treated that he almost gave up the game altogether. As luck would have it though via Hutchison Vale and the public parks of Edinburgh he wound up at Easter Road.

On Saturday past Cummings scored a goal that he’d almost certainly been dreaming of since he was unceremoniously left without a hope by the Tynecastle club.

Meeting a fantastic cross from teammate Scott Allan and guiding the ball past a despairing Alexander, he wheeled away in delight. The Jambo hordes in front of him as he jumped for joy, first the finger goes to his mouth – “sssh!” – then the wee gesture that brought a few irate shouts from a glum looking home support but perhaps the most telling contribution, over the piece, was the decision of referee Steven McLean to book the young striker for what I believe to be incitement.

Incitement can be derived from many forms but if any Hearts fan can tell me they were really upset by Cummings’ actions – post him bulging Alexander’s net – then again I’ll invite them to take up another sport.

Here we have a young lad, a naive teenager and in this instance slightly stupid but are we really going to stop a young talent from playing because of a gesture that, carried no nastiness, hurt no one and offended, if any at all, a minority that would make garden ants look big.

Only in Scottish Football could something so trivial be met with a ban.

Cummings will hopefully learn from this, it did take Sparky three bans before he realised but I am sure Alan Stubbs and co will have had a word with him but that’s all that was really required in this event. Let the ladd learn and in some cases grow up but don’t stop him playing the game he loves.

Cast your mind back a few months and to a bowling green in Glasgow where Scotland were taking on the Auld Enemy. Lawn Bowls has never been a sport you would associate with the industrial language, the excited atmosphere or the venomous bile that a football match can perpetuate but a similar event did happen in the aforementioned match.

Tattie Marshall gave the old “get it up ye”, to his English counterparts following an exciting end to the Commonwealth Games match between the two rivals. Now I am sure this type of behaviour is not condoned on the freshly cut greens that bowlers play on but neither was there someone waiting at the end of the match to tell Tattie that he was banned from appearing next time out. A word in his ear would have been deemed, quite rightly, appropriate.

Furthermore former Rangers manager Ally McCoist, celebrated a goal in the same manner earlier in the season against Hibs when his team defeated us in extra time of the Petrofac Cup way back in August. I could likely go through several celebrations from various different sporting backgrounds and whilst it’s not the best way to conduct a celebration I really don’t think it should carry a ban no matter which sport or team you play for.

Spontaneous celebrations have long been a part of the game, football is a culture and supporters relate to their players, they love to see the raw emotion pouring out. Let’s not ruin the game even more, atmospherically, by taking away a players right to celebrate.

Indeed in the same derby, just past, Jamie Walker scored an absolute screamer right in front of the Hibs fans – his momentum took him towards us, we’re giving him pelters, he’s delirious, mobbed by his teammates he emerges to gives us a ‘GIRUY’ message of his own.

We’ve just spent the last 40 minutes singing a song describing, shall we say, his sister’s underwear. He got his own back in the best way he could but and this is where the issue is – what’s the difference between Cummings’ celebration and Walkers?

Cummings and Walker were both booked. Disappointingly so in both cases but Cummings has been pulled up yet Walker wasn’t. I must point out that I do not want Jamie Walker to get banned in fact I wish I didn’t even have to write such an article but unfortunately this just further shows up the level of inconsistency surrounding any legislation and the work of the Compliance Officer.

Cummings may well have been found not guilty upon appeal but he should never have been put in to that position in the first place. The fact he was booked for his celebration should have been the end to any disciplinary procedures. Crazily the panel came back with a verdict of ‘not proven.’

Strange.

It’s quite clear what he did, so it didn’t require proof, it needed a sense of perspective to realise that he was not inciting trouble.

Common sense prevailed in this instance but just ask James McFadden what it can do when the law makers come down on the other side. A three match ban for a man who was previously the darling of Scottish football. A player who has been around the game much longer than Cummings has and probably should know better but I have no doubt he’ll know that without the need for any further disciplinary conducted by Tony McGlennan, he who bears the title of Compliance Officer.

Players have got to realise that disappointments and spats with opposing fans will happen. They have got to realise that they can’t get involved or let their emotions show through all the time but can you blame them when they do?

The players are role models, they are our stars playing for the clubs that we love, it’s an honour but even with all of that they are people just like all of us.

Perhaps it’s up to us, the supporters, the officials and the office bearers, to show a little bit of humanity when they give it back or when they ‘get it right up us.’

So Mr Compliance Officer before wasting everyone’s time and money please think about the whole situation, please allow the clubs to deal with their players – especially on a ‘first offence’ and try to apply some common sense without the need for appeals and judicial panels.

For now though I am off to dream about Cummings becoming Hibs’ answer to John Robertson. The Hibee who loved to score against us.

Andy Jeffrey is Scotzine’s new fan blogger focusing on Hibernian Football Club. To write about the club you support get in touch via editor@scotzine.com for more information.

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