Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Local Hero: John Smeaton

Two days ago, on Saturday afternoon, there was a terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport. A jeep rammed the airport building, caught fire, and the two occupants resisted arrest (one while on fire).

Several airport staff and members of the public assisted in the violent apprehension of one of the suspects. One in particular was interviewed widely. His name is John Smeaton. Here is a clip from one of his tv interview:


In different news reports he says "What's the score? I've got to get this sorted ... He was throwing punches like a prize fighter. So I ran to help the police and I took a flying kick at him ... this is Glasgow, we’ll set about you."

John is an interviewers dream. A blogger noted: "The big man also put to rights any myths about the Scots having a poor command of the english language. While broadcasting live to millions around the globe he easily fired out such gems as “The man then egressed the vehicle”. Quite spectacular."

Here's another clip of genius from Mr Smeaton: "It was definitely gas they had ... anyone who's ever chucked a gas cannister ontae a bonfire knows what it smells like." And in response to an American tv reporter asking how he restrained the guy: "Me and other folk were just tryin' tae get the boot in and some other guy banjoed him."

The man is pure Glaswegian; tough but fair. Whenever there's advice on the tele saying "The man in this picture is extremely dangerous; the public are advised to avoid all contact with him", people like John probably reply "Naw, ya wee daftie" and go out looking for said criminal.


Almost immediately, a website was launched in his honour. The website itself was featured by the BBC (news will eat itself?), and today so far claims over 180,000 page views and 200 people who have each donated the price of a pint to John. So far seven Facebook groups dedicated to him, the most popular being the John Smeaton Appreciation Society and Terrorist-punching Glaswegian, we salute you!, are rapidly gaining members. He's been hailed on over a hundred blogs, has a fan group on Bebo, been Photoshopped on Flickr, turned into Jedi Smeaton wallpaper, and is all over the news. Though he doesn't yet have a Wikipedia page, but give it time [Update: 8:33pm, a page appears about him].

You can even buy a "Smeato t-shirt" online. And another one here. And see the one pictured above by Cybers. One of the oddities of the net, online shopping and print(ed t-shirts)-on-demand is that whenever there is any kind of major event or incident, it is often possible to go online and purchase related clothing apparel. Time to amend the old phrase to "Wasn't there, seen it on CNN, bought the t-shirt. Online." 

Back to the tribute website and some classic lines:

  • Nobody gets between 10,000 Weegies and a £99 week in Ibiza booked on Thursday night through Barrhead Travel.

  • ... this is how we do things in Raintown. This ain’t London. There’s no stiff English upper lip here, no WAGs. And it sure ain’t Edinburgh - they’d all be hiding in Harvey Nicks and hysterically babbling about their Tuscan villas. There’s no ‘Big J’ in Edinburgh airport, there’s no ‘Smeato’ at Heathrow. Here we take the law into our own hands. And feet.

Some reader comments, from the website and a BBC news blog:

  • "London Airports: Little bit of fog? Closed for days. Glasgow Airport: Blown up? Open within 24 hours. Sorted."

  • "Giraffes were created when John Smeaton hit a horse with an uppercut"

  • "I had to smile at a friends comment: He said it was typical of a Glaswegian to come face to face with an terrorist on fire, and clotheline him to the floor. Nowhere else in the world, only Glasgow."

  • "Theres a new saying going round nowadays in Glasgow. It used to be if you were a cheeky bassa or you were to get a good slap you were getting “Doin”. Now folk are saying “You're getting a Smeaton pal”."

Best of all from the website, a library-related quote: "John Smeaton doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants." Heh.

Later this summer I'm off to do some work-related travelling, which will involve eight flights and six different airports. Scared off by recent events? Naw. I've travel insurance, and for delays I'll be taking my "Teach yourself Norwegian" book (with the audio lessons saved to my ipod). Best of all, I've got John Smeaton on my side...


  1. the smeaton actions and website and ensuing pithy gems give you a little hope back for humanity. hadnt found this site before but will def check back.

  2. Already ordered my Smeaton Hero postershttp://www.zantayartprints.com/john-smeaton-hero-poster-p-1580.htmlThere's not many hero's from Glasgow, Smeaton for Mayor!

  3. John Smeaton for Chief of Police

  4. Martin fae glasgow3 July 2007 at 21:34

    what a man, says exactly what any ordinary Glaswegian bloke would do....A'd have givin him a kicking toowell done big man!!!

  5. It's the way to deal with a threat to our nations security. Look to the words of Flower of Scotland - Let's send them home to think again! Whae's like us...damn few!

  6. Local Hero doesnt do it justice - Say it how it is JohnLiving Legend!! People have a lot to thank you for!!

  7. Arise Sir Smeato, the People's Hero! Whatta guy! Shows these terrorists we cant't be messed with! Smeato has been robbed by the appointment of Brown! We salute u Smeato!

  8. I'd like to say good on ya John Smeaton!! I loved how honest his account of what happened was, bout time everyone in Britain as a whole took a leaf out of Sir Smeatons book!!Go on my son!!

  9. "Carlsberg don't make airport baggage handlers, but if they did......." :0)

  10. well done smeato!a modern day wallace takin nae pish

  11. The man is a Hero.....Long Live The Smeatonator!P.s Cheers for the Link to my Flickr, I've stuck a link to your blog on the Photo's Comments.Smartalex. :-D

  12. www.croila.net » Blog Archive » Glasgow versus America4 July 2007 at 07:25

    [...] Smeaton. Local hero. Silversprite sums up this cult perfectly [...]

  13. Quality mate, in the face of the terror they try to create, you banged one of them out! More British people need to adopt the approach. They try to kill in mass innocent people, I say kick their teeth out! Top man, you deserve knighted!

  14. No doubt he'll be given a job with Fox News any day soon.

  15. Scottish Roundup » Blog Archive » A national hero is born in the aftermath of the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack8 July 2007 at 17:15

    [...] For more John Smeaton action, I highly recommend you take a look at this post at Silversprite, which has plenty of links to more celebrations of John Smeaton. [...]

  16. Here's a thought - if this was pre-smoking ban, Smeaton might not have been outside on a fag break when it happened. The world would be a different place.

  17. Iain MacMillan15 July 2007 at 20:57

    The above quotes are not 100% accurate.Yes, Smitton did a good thing, but the attention is sad and the pledge to donate money online to buy him a pint... that was the point where things never went down hill, they just fell off a cliff.

  18. Pure quality, they'll all think twice now...idiots!

  19. Iain MacMillan Jul 15th, 2007 at 12:57 pm The above quotes are not 100% accurate"Yes, Smitton did a good thing, but the attention is sad and the pledge to donate money online to buy him a pint… that was the point where things never went down hill, they just fell off a cliff"you sound like you wouldve run for the hill`s if faced with the same situation. let the guy have his 15 mins of fame. he has single handedly done more to deter terrorist in his fag break than any goverment can in 15 years.