Another year, another load of abuse hurled at footballer James McClean.
This has been a yearly thing since James McClean signed for Sunderland in 2011.
This year the FA has gotten involved. Not to investigate the abuse hurled at McClean but his response through his Instagram account.
James McClean’s sin was refusing to wear a poppy on his shirt before his team’s game against Middlesborough. This is something he has done each year he has played in England. He is a Catholic from Northern Ireland and was brought up in Derry (or Londonderry if you are protestant). He refuse to wear a poppy because not only does it symbolise the loss from the two world wars but also British military conflicts since then – including the troubles in Northern Ireland, a conflict that also included the killing of 13 civilian protestors by British soldiers on what became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.
Remembrance to me is massively important – I attend my local remembrance parade (in fact this year I will be placing a wreath on behalf of our Town Council). I lead the remembrance assemblies at the school I work at. If you look through my blog and social media posts you can see that I believe in the concept of remembrance day and what it signifies. However what I’m getting increasingly unhappy about is the shaming of people who decide – for whatever reason – NOT to wear a poppy. You cannot turn a TV on in November without seeing a newscaster or presenter wearing a poppy. There is nothing wrong with this and if people wear it because they believe in its symbolism (as I do) that is wonderful. However my worry is that people wear one without fully understanding its symbolism but purely because they need to be seen wearing a poppy.
My grandad, who fought on the Somme and who lost his eldest brother in that horrendous battle refused to wear a poppy because, when he was alive, it had “Haig Fund” on the button in the middle. He held Douglas Haig responsible for his brothers death.
James McClean has said that if the symbolism was just for those who lost their lives in the world wars he would wear one with pride, but because of his Irish Catholic background, he cannot wear one because of his and his families experiences during the troubles. More power to his elbow! Those that shout abuse at him are totally uneducated cavemen as he has said in his post. They don’t understand what that poppy symbolises – it symbolises the fact that many died to protect our freedom to wear – or not – a poppy. He shouldn’t be criticised for biting back at his critics and the FA should butt out. Anyone should feel free to wear a poppy or not wear one and no-one should be shamed into wearing one and absolutely no-one should be abused because they are exhibiting the freedom of choice millions gave their lives for in both world wars.
James McClean as someone who wears a poppy with pride because of what I believe it symbolises I salute you and shame on those morons who abuse you.