A sheriff criticised a fan for singing an offensive song – then urged him to help rid the game of sectarian “poison”.
Penicuk man Barrie Rendall was arrested after he and fellow Hearts supporters had belted out lyrics including being “up to our knees in Fenian blood”.
Hamilton Sheriff Court heard a group of Jambos known as the Gorgie Boys had stepped up vocal backing for their team in a bid to improve the match day atmosphere.
But Rendall was found guilty of threatening or abusive behaviour during a league game against Motherwell at Fir Park in February.
Sheriff Allan McKay told Rendall (34) of Charles Street, Penicuik: “On one level your commitment to the team is admirable, but this type of disgraceful conduct has to stop.
“It’s a poison that must be removed because it is debilitating the game I have followed all my adult life.
“Football relies on fans like you who are reaching maturity to stop this kind of stuff.
“It’s up to people like you who are otherwise intelligent and responsible to stand up and be counted, to tell other guys not to do it, to take a different attitude.
“When you’re carrying on with the Gorgie Boys you’re a menace.”
PC Iain Gromett, a dedicated football officer known as a ‘spotter’, said he picked out Rendall as the “ringleader” in a group of Hearts fans who sang ‘Hello, hello, we are the Gorgie Boys’ repeatedly during the first half.
The officer told prosecutor Lauren Donnelly: “Most fans stop before the offensive line because they know it is something they can be arrested for singing. But I watched a group of eight to ten singing about being up to their knees in Fenian blood. They sang it four or five times in the first half.
“I arrested the accused as he went to get a pie at half time. He felt hard done by as he was the only one arrested, but we have limited resources and can’t apprehend everyone.”
Rendall, a vehicle parts adviser, said he went to the match with his dad and denied being with the Gorgie Boys in the stadium.
He admitted joining in a chant of “Well, Well, f... your Well”, but insisted he wasn’t sectarian and wouldn’t sing a song that would get him into trouble.
Rendall told his lawyer, Joe Boyd: “I have no idea how the police could single me out when there was a drum being beaten and a crowd of people shouting.”
But Sheriff McKay said he believed the police officers who were “absolutely clear” that Rendall was singing the offensive song.Rendall has a previous conviction for football-related disorder and his lawyer said Hearts have banned him from home games since his arrest in February.
Sheriff McKay refused a Crown motion to impose a football banning order, saying he expected Hearts to extend their own punishment now Rendall has been convicted.
The sheriff ordered him to do 90 hours of unpaid community work and fined him £100 after he admitted possession of cocaine at the match.