Footballer James McClean stands apart during minute's silence to Queen

·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 13: James McClean of Wigan Athletic is seen not taking part in a minute silence, as players and spectators pay tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who died away at Balmoral Castle on September 8th prior to the Sky Bet Championship between Huddersfield Town and Wigan Athletic at John Smith's Stadium on September 13, 2022 in Huddersfield, England. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)
James McClean (left) stood apart from Wigan Athletic players for the one minute silence for the Queen at John Smith's Stadium in Huddersfield on Tuesday night (Charlotte Tattersall/Getty)

Wigan Athletic’s James McClean stood apart from his teammates during a minute's silence for the Queen, in what was an apparent gesture of defiance.

McClean sported a black armband ahead of Wigan’s Championship clash with Huddersfield at John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday night.

But when the players and spectators paused for a moment’s silence, McClean stood noticeably separated from the other Wigan players, who had joined arms.

Another image of McClean showed him with his head bowed.

The 33-year-old was later seen without the armband, following his team's 2-1 victory.

James McClean (bottom left) wore a black armband but did not join with the rest of the players for the one minute silence for the Queen. (Twitter)
James McClean (bottom left) wore a black armband but did not join with the rest of the players for the one minute silence for the Queen. (Twitter)

McClean has previously refused to wear shirts embroidered with the poppy, in an act of protest against honouring the British empire.

The Republic of Ireland international, who was born in Derry and raised on the same Creggan estate where six of the people killed on Bloody Sunday in 1972 came from, addressed the minute’s silence ahead of last night’s game.

On Monday he posted on Instagram: “Unless you are a nationalist that was born and raised in Derry or anywhere else in the north of Ireland then don't assume or speak on our behalf unless you can relate.”

Watch: Starmer: Protesters should respect people's decision to mourn the Queen

Tuesday’s match came after the government said sporting fixtures did not need to be cancelled in light of the Queen’s death – but suggested a “period of silence” at the start of sporting fixtures if games went ahead.

This morning, McClean re-posted a message from Irish professional boxer Declan Geraghty calling him a “legend” for not joining his teammates for the silence.

Speaking previously about his decision not to wear a poppy, McClean explained: “I know many people won't agree with my decision or even attempt to gain an understanding of why I don't wear a poppy.

James McClean reposted a message describing him as a 'legend' for not joining his teammates in the minute's silence. (PA)
James McClean reposted a message describing him as a 'legend' for not joining his teammates in the minute's silence. (PA)

“I accept that but I would ask people to be respectful of the choice I have made, just as I'm respectful of people who do choose to wear a poppy.”

In a letter addressed to Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, he also wrote: ''If the poppy was a symbol only for the lost souls of World War One and Two I would wear one…

The government recommended sporting events pay tribute to the Queen following her death last week. (PA)
The government recommended sporting events pay tribute to the Queen following her death last week. (PA)

“But the poppy is used to remember victims of other conflicts since 1945 and this is where the problem starts for me.

“For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different…

'It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people.”

He added: “I am very proud of where I come from and I just cannot do something that I believe is wrong. In life, if you're a man you should stand up for what you believe in.”