The last time Neil Lennon stood on the touchline at Tynecastle, he became a victim. A Hearts supporter leapt from the main stand and launched himself at the Celtic manager, but the significant blow was to Scotland's reputation. The country was confronted with the worst of its old prejudices.
Lennon was angry at being left so vulnerable by the police and the stewards, and he is still irked that Hearts have not been punished following the incident last May. The fact that John Wilson, the supporter, was found guilty of breach of the peace rather than assault left Lennon "surprised", so that the fixture coming round again so soon must feel like an inconvenience.
Of all the emotions that Lennon will carry with him tomorrow, fear will not be one of them. He is instinctively defiant, but there will be such a focus of attention and security around the Celtic manager that however detached he may be on the touchline, he will never be isolated.
"It was an embarrassment for a lot of people and I don't want to go through that again," Lennon said. "Measures will be in place and it will probably be the safest place for me to be. "
Having been sent bullets and bombs in the post last season, the attack seemed the culmination of a sectarian attitude towards Lennon, a Northern Irish Catholic. Yet as the two teams prepared to meet again, he did not want to stir up any resentment over Wilson's eight-month sentence. "I don't make the law, I just try to abide by it as best I can," Lennon said. "I'm more concerned about getting the three points."Reuse content