James McClean: the good causes that profit from his supposed villainy

James McClean. By Jake

James McClean’s spell as pantomime villain has come to an end, though we can be sure this is a role he will go on filling from time to time. Out of the sow’s ear of a couple of the controversies has come the odd silk purse …

Having preferred to play for the Republic of Ireland rather than Northern Ireland – read all about it here – and then publicly paraded his exasperation at being left on Giovanni Trapattoni’s bench – he refused to wear the Sunderland poppy shirt at Everton last Saturday. On two of three issues – namely all but the tweet about his non-use in an international – he found support at Salut! Sunderland. There was also real hostility; don’t expect real consensus – you either think he legitimately exercised freedom of choice or regard him as a disrespectful rebel.

Out of the Goodison row has come some good. McClean, at his own instigation or under advice, announced his poppyless top, as worn at Everton, would be auctioned with proceeds going to a children’s leukaemia charity.

And what about that row over his choice of the shade of international green he wished to wear? A long debate, mixing intelligent argument and self-defeating abuse or insult, appeared at this site and was repeated when I strayed into a Northern Ireland football forum, Our Wee Country.

See M Salut on McClean’s need to enter a controversy-free period and show he really in a Premier player, not a flash in the pan … http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739

One man who certainly took a dim view of McClean’s stance, and for all I know mine, in both the Republic/NI spat and Poppygate is Stephen Rowley, across the Irish Sea and therefore an ardent Manchester United supporter (OK, some prefer Celtic or Rangers, Liverpool or Everton, and both Charlie Hurley and Martin O’Neill are, were or became Sunderland nuts).

When the dust had settled over the first controversy, Stephen made contact to ask we could take a Sunderland top that had come his way and somehow use it to raise money for charity. No ordinary top. This was was signed by the waifs and strays assembled by Mick McCarthy.

The famous top

Stephen’s cause is the Marie Curie charity. It was in the Belfast Marie Curie hospice that a great friend of mine, Neil Johnston, died in the summer.

Anyway, we put up the idea on site as an auction. CSB, who works a lot in the Middle East, offered £100 and another exile, Antony Seymour, out in Western Australia topped the bid with one of his own: £150. Truly great stuff from both. There was a scare when Antony disappeared for work into the Bush but he soon resurfaced and money was on its way to County Down.

Let Stephen tell the story in more detail:

A big thanks from the Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast to a very generous Mackem.

Back in the summer I had contacted Colin through his excellent website to mention that I had in my possession a Sunderland shirt from the heady days of the McCarthy era which had been signed by all the players.

It had been presented to me by a good friend of mine whose young lad had been on trial with Sunderland at that time but who, unfortunately due to circumstances as previously explained here)) had failed to make the grade.

John had attended an annual fund-raising event I organise in my local golf club (Scrabo Golf Club in Newtownards, Co Down – if anyone is ever in the vicinity and fancies a game then please contact me and I’ll treat you – but as there is a dearth of Mackems around the Ards area there were no takers on the night and the shirt has been gathering dust in my house ever since.

After reading a few articles Colin had written on another website I contacted him and he kindly suggested that he would put the shirt up for auction on the site after first of all putting a guaranteed price on it himself – as it transpired a few very generous offers were made (one even of 666 Saudi Riyals!!) however the final offer of £150 was made by Antony Seymour a staunch, dyed-in-the-wool Mackem who lives very locally, in PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA!!

The shirt has now winged it’s way over to Oz and the money from Antony has been added to the monies which will be raised again this year for the Hospice and I’m honoured and very humbled to say that Antony’s donation has taken the total amount raised since we started the event in 2000 in memory of my late mother to £52K, an incredible amount. The next event will be on 17th November and I will make a point of mentioning the generosity of Antony and the time and help offered by Colin in contributing to making the night another roaring success

There are very few families who have not been touched by cancer and whilst the fight to find a cure goes on we can only continue to support those whose job it is to make the time the people affected (and their families) have left with us as comfortable as possible. The work they do in the Hospice is a credit to them and every penny donated is greatly appreciated (the last major development at the Hospice cost £3 million, a vast majority of it made up of donations like Antony’s).

Thanks again from the bottom of my heart.

A very humble Stephen Rowley.

If Antony is out there and keeping tabs on Salut! Sunderland, maybe he can send a photo – preferably showing him or the usual wear with the top on – we can stick on this site. His generosity is much appreciated.

And if Mr McClean is looking in, just remember that a winner at Craven Cottage would make just about everyone happier.

Colin Randall

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26 thoughts on “James McClean: the good causes that profit from his supposed villainy”

  1. In Ireland(South) our country was created out of an insurgency campaign by the IRA just as the current arrangments in Ireland(North) were derived from a latter variation of the same organisation. Many things done in both campaigns cannot be justified just as many things done in the name of Britian both before and since cannot be justified and resulted far higher percentages of civilian deaths (e.g Iraq. Kenya)..

    Brtiain’s poppy does not reflect those Irish who fought in those insugencies against Britain(who were British citizens) but is respected by the vast majority of Irish people North and South – its just that some of us, becuase of our tangled histroy beleive it to be disrespctful to our own war dea to wear it ourselves-

    Given the Queen recently showed her respect for the Irish insurgents in Dublin it is probably near the time that the British legion widened the scope of its commerorative symbol.

  2. I suppose the view is what I regard as naive, as opposed necessarily to the person expressing it. Let us call this a draw: I do not regard myself as uninformed on Irish/N Ireland affairs and history any more than you would see yourself as naive.

    • No problem!

      I think that it is, though, very difficult to differentiate between a naive view and a naive person because who other than the latter would express the former?

      To me, it is just a more polite way of calling anyone who expresses an alternative viewpoint a cretin!

      • …. not intended that way. If I had singled you out for mention I would be happy to withdraw. But I cannot withdraw a general description of what I regard as a naive position to adopt because one person holding that view considers it the wrong word and reflects a stance on my part that is “a little uninformed, patronising and based upon perceptions, rather than the reality”. I do, however, that organised and armed criminality has played a significant role in the activities of the various terrorist groups on both sides of the divide.

      • I, really, do think we need to draw a line under this.

        However, as one who expressed a number of views [possibly the most] (on the original thread) that were, diametrically, opposed to your own, I assumed (rightly or wrongly) that you had those in mind when you composed your ESPN article.

        So, did I take it personally?

        Of course I did!

        In conclusion, I must add, that I found your premise that anyone who disagreed with you to be “naive” arrogant and dismissive of other viewpoints.

        That is a description that I had never, ever, previously, considered using, in relation to your good self,and so (hopefully) you will understand my chagrin.,

      • You are now cheating!

        Normal contributors can NOT edit their comments but you now have edited yours by adding:

        “I do, however, that organised and armed criminality has played a significant role in the activities of the various terrorist groups on both sides of the divide.”

        Where did that addition to your comprehension, miraculously, appear from?

  3. Phil: the offending phrase was taken from this section:

    This has been a year of controversy for him. First there was the decision to play for Republic of Ireland and not Northern Ireland. Then he angered Giovanni Trapattoni, the Irish manager, by parading his dismay, in a tweet laced with profanity, at being left on the bench. And last weekend, he caused much offence by refusing to wear a poppy-adorned Sunderland shirt at Everton.

    The first and third of those issues are delicate and emotive. I felt he had every right to take the action he did. To argue otherwise is to demonstrate great naivety about the political and social realities of Northern Ireland.

    In the case of the poppy – and yes, I bought mine and wore it with pride – it seems crass to deny an individual the very right to freedom of expression for which we are often told the Second World War was, in part, fought. I have had my say fully at Salut! Sunderland and the debate attracted scores of responses for and against my proposition. There is no need at this distance to say more than that I also respect the right of others to criticise McClean’s actions, even if he has made the mitigating gesture of auctioning his poppyless Goodison shirt for a children’s leukaemia charity.

    But it is not unimportant that Sunderland is a club with a traditional working-class support that frequently produces volunteers for the Armed Forces just as it supplied conscripts.

    In acknowledging the different working-class traditions of Derry/Londonderry that give McClean his Nationalist, pro-Irish sentiments, I appeal to him to remember where he is currently his earning his living and see that he has given himself a hill to climb. Plenty of my fellow supporters have shown themselves to be less understanding. He has to earn afresh a place in their affections or at least their esteem.”


    I think it is
    abundantly clear that I am expressing my own view, including the assertion that “to argue otherwise (ie than my view) is to demonstrate great naivety about the political and social realities of Northern Ireland”. I have highlighted “I felt” though there should be no need in what is obviously one person’s outlook. I have no editing function but, if I did, would have been happy to insert another signal that this was my opinion.

    And I do know Ireland north and south, having been a frequent visitor since the late 1960s, mostly for professional reasons, I do not claim to know it more intimately than anyone else. I stand by everything I have said, which of course includes ample allowance for others to disagree.

    • Thank you for the courtesy of your reply which was, as ever, much appreciated.

      I never, though, believed that the view that you were expressing was anyone’s other than your own and still feel that for you to label anyone who disagreed with it as “naive” was not the best choice of word.

  4. Excellent article Salut which was only eclipsed by the superb observations on Steed Malbranque formerly of this parish. Take heed Mr O”Neill.

    • A very balanced, eloquent, article.

      However, I thought that this piece was more than a little uninformed, patronising and based upon perceptions, rather than the reality:

      “I felt he had every right to take the action he did. To argue otherwise is to demonstrate great naivety about the political and social realities of Northern Ireland.”

      As someone who conducted business in both Ulster and the Republic for more than 30 years I used to visit both 4+ times annually..

      This gave me the opportunity to get to know, very well, people from both sides of the divide, who either owned their own small businesses or worked in senior positions within larger concerns.

      In other words people who were intelligent enough to understand what was taking place and (more to the point) what was causing it.

      One thing that was very marked was that whichever community they came from their perceptions were, remarkably, similar and were as follows:

      Initially, without doubt, it was politically motivated with some people taking a strong republican or loyalist stance, whilst the majority did not want to get involved.

      This then changed as the paramilitaries (on both sides) started threatening their own communities with reprisals if they did not, actively, support their respective causes.

      It then changed again when it became very little to do with politics and everything to do with controlling extortion, prostitution and drug running.

      Of course, the “foot soldiers” were “spoon fed” the line that what they were doing was “for the cause” but everyone else knew the truth!

      The British press, though, were not allowed to report things in that vein because the public would never have accepted, successive governments negotiating with gangsters – far better that they were led to believe that it was, totally, political.

      So, what does that say about James McClean?

      I think that is quite obvious!

      Far too stupid to possess a mind of his own, he has been led to believe what (in his case) the local IRA commanders had convinced his family and their friends was the real situation.

      Does that give him and his choice credibility?

      My response would be the opposite view has to be the case!

      • I should have, also, included that the reasonable individuals on BOTH sides felt that the way Catholics were disenfranchised was archaic and had to be addressed.

        That was, of course, what kicked the whole thing off as Westminster, ridiculously, placed its’ trust in the views of extremist loyalists who wished to maintain the “status quo” and (effectively) invited the problem.

        Naive, Colin, I don’t think so!

      • I have already said I am not going to engage in a detailed political debate on NI in these pages or to trade “I know the place better than you” claims. It is, however, an interesting position in which to find myself, both ‘very balanced and eloquent’ and at the same time ‘more than a little uninformed, patronising’. Otherwise, we must agree to differ.

      • Without wishing to become involved in an argument, I think it is possible (and said so) to find an article “very balanced and eloquent” but then point out a statement which, I found to be aimed, pointedly, as a “put down” to anyone who disagreed with your “take” on matters.

        You, quite clearly, disagree, as is your right.

      • I, also, stated what I consider to be my “credentials” for holding my views.

        Whilst, fully, accepting that you do not wish to become embroiled in a political debate what are yours that entitle you to dismiss those who disagree with you as being “naive”?

  5. Good to read this. I don’t want to start the fire again Salut but I must mention your comment in the OP. ” you either think he legitimately exercised freedom of choice or regard him as a disrespectful rebel.” There are some of us who feel that he actually achieved both at the same time!

  6. It must be remember that this action may have raised funds it was at no cost or effort from McClean. It may in the eyes of a few justify his stance on the poppy incident. However it does not change the fact, a symbol of respect and sacrifice was used by McClean as a political tool to emphasis something to which it has no association. ” they will not grow old as we grow old”

  7. I must agree with you Bill that many (if not most) may soon forget.

    Many others, though, will not.

    Indeed, at some point, I fully expect to read about someone asking him to explain his actions, face to face, then taking offence at his reply!

  8. Its a total disgrace that he never worn the poppy on his top and this is only something to try and look good but we know the reasons

    Sunderland as a club great but should have made the player wear the shirt.

    He’ll be the first person to behind the troops if we ever neeeded them in this country.

    Shocking he should be ashamed of himself,

    • Stephen: this has been aired here fully. See the link above. You won’t convince me, I won’t convince you. He can claim no credit for the shirt auction proceeds but I am perfectly comfortable with money for his poppy-less top going towards child leukaemia research,

      • As someone whose mother died of cancer, in the not too distant past, it is always heartening to read of financial support being generated for any hospice.

        The comfort that they provide, not only, to the patient but, also, to their families is incalculable.

        With regard to McClean, I can’t help but wonder if he donated the shirt (having paid for it) or whether it it was the club, in an attempt to diffuse the situation, who were responsible for “his” action.

        p.s. Colin.

        Who is Marton?

      • Well done to Sunderland for turning a poor situation around and well done for raising money for a great charity.

        My point is that he a disgrace for not wearing the poppy on his shirt and supporting the country and soldiers that’s made it possible for him to come to England and make a very comfortable living

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