Wigan were away to Yeovil town on Remembrance Sunday past – not the biggest game in memory, but the pre-match build up was shrouded in controversy, James McClean was not in the Wigan squad.
Speculation began, was James dropped because he would not wear a poppy on his Wigan shirt? Post-match Wigan manager Owen Coyle denied the rumour, citing a dead leg as the reason the Irishman was not in his match-day squad. Coyle said he was ‘’embarrassed’’ at claims its why McClean was dropped.
Rest assured, whatever the reason for Republic of Ireland international McCleans absence, he would not have worn a poppy for the game against Yeovil.
Last year on Remembrance weekend, James McClean sparked fury by deciding to not wear a poppy for his old club Sunderland’s trip to Everton. The Derry man then received death threats on twitter. One man posted images of 5.6mm bullets alongside the message: "Poppy bullies' death threats against James McClean! Too right he deserves to be shot dead + body dragged past the cenotaph!!"
How ironic is that men want James McClean dead for not remembering the Britain’s fight against ‘’fascism’’ by not wearing a poppy – is that itself not fascism?
So why would James McClean not wear a poppy?
In 1972, 14 unarmed civilians were murdered by British soldiers in the part of Derry were McClean hails from, all innocent, taking part in a civil rights demonstration. 6 of the 14 lived in the very estate James was brought up and lived in. This was the one of the biggest but not the only atrocity committed by the British in Derry and in Ireland.
I can guarantee you that hundreds, if not thousands of people from Derry and across Ireland would not want to wear a poppy, and if they were in James McCleans shoes they would do the exact same. I would.
So like last year, James McClean is getting sick abuse on Twitter. Here’s one tweet sent from an ex-British soldier mocking the death of 14 civilians.
Wearing a poppy should be a choice for a professional footballer, it shouldn’t be embroidered on their shirts, it’s not embroidered on any other uniform in work places for remembrance weekend.
James McClean does not deserve the vile onslaught of abuse for holding his own belief; didn’t British troops fight for the freedom in WW1 and WW11 for us to hold our own beliefs?