WE thought we had got past all this. As thuggery flares on our football terraces again, the majority of Scottish football supporters will heave a despairing sigh.

Police have condemned those responsible for “mindless acts of violence”, after a poisonous atmosphere at the Edinburgh derby saw both assistant referees targeted, a fan allegedly aiming a punch at Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal, and the Hibs manager Neil Lennon struck by a coin thrown from the crowd.

This follows fighting between fans making their way to the Celtic-Hearts Betfred cup semi final just days ago. In August, the Scottish Police Federation warned of an “upward trend” in football-related violence after two Croat fans were stabbed ahead of a European tie with Rangers at Ibrox.

Describing such violence as "mindless" is unfortunate. It suggests little can be done, almost excuses the behaviour of out-of-control fans. We must not accept this. Neither can we accept the notion that a controversial figure like Neil Lennon “brings it on himself”, as one broadcast commentator suggested. Mr Lennon may have been unwise to goad fans the way he did when a Hearts goal was disallowed, even if he himself was reacting to ceaseless verbal abuse from the crowd behind him. But throwing coins is assault and in a very dangerous form.

The managers of both clubs say they will work together, and with the police, to root out the fans w ho have embarrassed their own clubs. They are right to do so. We cannot go back to the days when families shunned football for fear of what might happen at the ground or on the way to and from games.

The police must endeavour to find those responsible and ensure they are held accountable. Fans of both clubs, and any others where such problems arise, should come forward if they have any information at all about those who hide within their ranks to launch cowardly attacks which stain the good name of all fans.