British Transport Police are reportedly hunting up to 40 Hearts fans over ‘incidents’ on Glasgow bound trains before the Edinburgh side’s league clash with Celtic at the weekend.
According to Police, around ten fans had been drinking and being abusive to passengers on the west bound train from Edinburgh Waverley at around 10.30am. And a second incident involving around 30 fans boarded a Glasgow Central bound train at Haymarket at 1.15pm – with this group also being abusive towards passengers and hurled sectarian abuse.
Officers are now using CCTV footage to hunt the two groups. BTP chief inspector David Marshall, said: “Chief Inspector David Marshall said: “This sort of behaviour is appalling and absolutely unacceptable and why football supporters feel the need to behave in such a manner is beyond me.
“There are other passengers on the train who are not attending the matches and should be able to travel, and work without having to be faced with it.”
Meanwhile, footage has been released online of a group of Hearts fans trying to burn the Ireland flag near Celtic Park, while chanting ‘Big Jock Knew’ – in reference to allegations created by Rangers fans about Celtic’s legendary manager Jock Stein and what he knew of Jim Torbett’s child abusing at Celtic Boy’s Club.
The footage initially published by Hearts fan Conor Milne on his official twitter page – before being deleted later – shows a group of ‘youthful’ Hearts fans struggling to set fire to the national flag before Police arrived and took the flag off them.
Hearts issued a statement condemning the behaviour of these fans, claiming that they ‘do not represent the club’ or its values.
The statement read: “Heart of Midlothian Football Club strongly condemns any anti-social and offensive behaviour carried out by a small group of its supporters at the weekend.
“The club works tirelessly to create a family friendly atmosphere at Tynecastle and in the surrounding area and we expect all supporters to take these standards with them whenever they travel to see Hearts.
“We apologise to those individuals who were rightly upset by what seems to have been totally unacceptable behavior and can assure them that the individuals in question do not represent the club or our values.
“This minority of fans claiming to support the club are not welcome at Hearts and we will be working very closely with British Transport Police to help identify any individual who is besmirching the good name of Heart of Midlothian Football Club and bring them to justice.”
Former Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart hit out at the fans:
These idiots who masquerade as Hearts fans are simply bigots, go away & grow up. Good to see the club condemning them also.
— Michael Stewart (@mstewart_23) September 29, 2015
Fellow Hearts fans on the fan forum, Jambos Kickback hit out at their fellow supporters.
One poster named primrose, posting before Hearts issued their statement, said: “Lets hope they get identified and banned from Tynie, we don’t need any of that crap following our club and damaging our reputation. I hope Ann Budge has something to say on this.”
Another calling themselves audioslave, added: “A few of the young team could do with not airing their bigoted pish all over Twitter with their real names attached to it, especially those instrumental in the Singing Section.”
While another Pants Shaton commented: “Weed out these pr**ks from the Hearts support. Far too many people are put off coming to Tynecastle because they think (erroneously) that we’re a sectarian club. A handful of purple faced middle aged tw*ts and plooky virgins are responsible.”