McClean: Booing fans are 'cavemen'

OUTBURST: James McClean. Pic: Getty

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Stoke City boss Gary Rowett came to the defence of Ireland man James McClean who was targeted by away supporters over his decision not to wear a poppy on his shirt while on duty for the club.

McClean was booed by a large section of the crowd when he came on as an 81st minute sub for Stoke in their 0-0 draw away to Middlesbrough.

TV footage showed Boro fans trying to confront McClean as he left the field at the end of the game, and the player later issued a defiant statement on social media.

He described the fans who attacked him as "uneducated cavemen" and responded to chants about him being a Fenian by saying "I am a PROUD FENIAN no c@#t will ever change that, so sing away".

Stoke manager Rowett will be pleased that the controversy is over, for another year at least, but admitted that the booing of McClean is now inevitable.

"I think it's any opportunity for away fans to goad somebody," said Rowett, "it's pretty poor.

"It's his belief and he's strong enough to come out and with his belief, whether you agree with it or not.

"We respect James' beliefs. He's had them for a number of years and also been involved in these games for a number of years.

"I think he's the type of player who causes debate among other fans and among his own team's fans and he's used to that furore that goes on around him. I don't think it is particularly helpful, but it's something he's had for a number of years," added Rowett.

McClean quoted Bobby Sands in his post on Instagram. "They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn't want to be broken," McClean said.

"Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst… to the home fans that are actually educated and support me, thank you. To the section of uneducated cavemen in the left-hand corner of the Boothen End stand that want to song their anti-Irish song each game and call me a Fenian this and that... I am a PROUD FENIAN no c@#t will ever change that, so sing away."