Bottles. Coins. A fan running and jumping over advertising boards to try and tackle players. Sectarian abuse of players and managers. And not to mention yesterday's incident in England where a footballer was attacked on the field by a supporter.

In Scotland, it has been a thrilling season which has produced some fabulous games and sensational goals. But it seems that a small minority at games are determined to ruin it for everyone else.

The Hibernian versus Rangers game last midweek was a prime example of that. It was a fantastic game of football which Rangers utterly dominated for 45 minutes. But like a lot of games, particularly away from home, it turned into Groundhog Day for not only the Rangers fans but Steven Gerrard. Yet again they had hammered an opponent but couldn’t put them away. In fact it was eerily reminiscent of the last time they travelled to Easter Road just before Christmas in a 0-0 draw. If it was a boxing match it would have been stopped, but you need to put the ball in the net. Much to Hib's credit they were much better in the second half and unbelievably could even have nicked all three points towards the end. But it was the final nail in Rangers' title aspirations. They have just not been anywhere near ruthless enough and have dropped far too many points in games they have dominated. It’s a game Celtic would have won and that continues to be the difference. That winning mentality.

Of course though the main talking point wasn’t a cracking game of football and another great advert for the Scottish game on the pitch. It was the actions of an idiotic Hibs fan - and I use the term fan lightly as he has subsequently been banned for life from Easter Road. What quite possessed him to run down from his seat, jump over the advertisement boards and attempt to tackle and confront Rangers captain James Tavernier is beyond me. I said jokingly at the time he might have consumed three Blue Wkds, but certainly this is no laughing matter. The Rangers captain would have been well within his rights to defend himself and give this moron a slap to protect himself. What if he was carrying a knife or another weapon? It’s frightening that players are now not only being subjected to coins and bottles being thrown at them in their place of work but fans running onto the park to try and attack them.

But this is nothing new. It’s been going on for 15-20 years. It’s only because we have more games being televised and far more camera angles that these incidents are being captured. I played in a derby game at Tynecastle for Hibs back in 2003 when a half bottle of vodka narrowly whizzed by Ian Murray’s head and landed on the park.


READ MORE: SPFL condemn Hibs fan who 'confronted' Rangers captain James Tavernier

I can also remember being hit by coins at Ibrox and Tannadice after celebrating goals but it happened that often - the coin throwing that is, unfortunately, not the goal celebrations - that I just shrugged it off and got on with it. So it’s not as if it’s just been this season that fans pelting players with objects has suddenly reared it’s ugly head. It has been going on for a very long time. Much like sectarian singing has. We then collectively say for a few weeks while the topic is hot that it’s a disgrace and it needs to stop. But nothing actually ever happens. It’s all bluster with no substance. Every time.

So what can we do? I must admit I thought the Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster was tremendous and didn’t mess about after the game at Easter Road. The fan was banned for life and she seemed totally exasperated by the fan's behaviour when she was on television. Obviously again it’s maybe one Hibs supporter out of over 10,000 who has tarnished the rest, but it’s still one too many. Depressingly, I spoke about this very subject in my column just a few weeks back. I would rather - like most fans of Scottish football - be talking about the many good aspects of our game in Scotland but this subject can’t be ignored. Clubs will never vote for strict liability as it would be akin to a turkey voting for Christmas but I don’t see any other way to stop these incidents happening.


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I get a sense that the Scottish Government are now watching these incidents in football very closely and are ready to step in with new legislation to punish fans severely and, ultimately, in turn the clubs. What I am certain of is that it cannot continue in the current vein with dangerous incidents seemingly occurring on almost a weekly basis. Strict liability in my opinion either has to be agreed to by football clubs or ultimately enforced by the Scottish Government to finally stamp out and punish clubs for their fans' behaviour. It’s not what anyone wants but I feel we have exasperated everything else. Slaps on the wrists and fines are not working. It’s getting worse. Scottish football is being embarrassed around the world by idiots in the stand. It’s time to clamp down hard and stop the yobs once and for all.

And another thing

Rangers' season basically hinges on beating Aberdeen in their William Hill Scottish Cup replay tomorrow night. Steven Gerrard overall has done a good job at Rangers, I think, but silverware, or at least getting to a national final, is surely a must for Rangers - particularly with the money spent. Losing again to an Aberdeen side who have proved a thorn in their side all season will put a big black mark on his report card.