Is the English Disease back with a vengeance as we saw fighting at the Millwall end at Wembley on Saturday and in the streets of Newcastle on Sunday, broadcast to a world wide audience?
Actually it never went away completely but is no longer like the dark days of the 70s and 80s. With all seater stadiums, CCTV and better police intelligence, the fighting and arrests are down. Last season there were 2,363 arrests in connection with matches in England & Wales with an attendance of 37 million. 74% of matches involved no arrests, and 50% of matches didn't have any police presence. 100,000 English and Welsh fans went to 47 overseas matches with 27 arrests.
The idiot in the Newcastle United shirt who punched police horse Bud in the neck was promptly tackled, arrested and cuffed by Northumbria police .His name is Barry Rogerson from Morpeth, who claims that it was in self defence!!! He is on benefits and hasn't worked for years and lives in an expensive house with his Portuguese wife. "I love animals. I have three dogs, a fish pond and feed the foxes across the road". He had drunk five pints at The Terrace Bar in St. James Park during the match and was also taking medications. His wife said " I let him out of the house once and look what happens" .
The United supporters who confronted the police outside St James Park were shown clearly on CCTV and over time will be identified, arrested, dealt with and banned. The same goes for those who waited for visiting Sunderland fans at Newcastle Central Station.
Bud is one of 18 police horses owned by West Yorkshire Police and can be seen at Elland Road and elsewhere. I always take a packet of Polo Mints to games and the horses love to lick them from my hands. They are heavily armed with riot shields on their heads and leggings and go through riot training. Bud has been with the force for seven years and is back home at his paddock at Carr Gate, Wakefield, looked after by groom Isabel Collins.
At Wembley the day before at the F.A. Cup semi-final Wigan 3 v Millwall 0, there were 32,000 Millwall fans inside and about 50 started fighting amongst themselves. Many had taken drugs including cocaine and with the pubs opening early at 9.00am and the kick-off at 5.15pm many were drunk before they entered the turnstiles.
On Monday in a court in Shrewsbury on the Welsh border 25 fans were in court for a Division One (third tier) match confrontation last October when fans of Shrewsbury Town and Walsall rioted in the town centre. Violent disorder, disobeying West Murcia police, and assault were the charges as they answered bail and will be dealt with later, a few at a time.
With less publicity in UK, 61 fans of 1st FC Nuremberg and Bayern Munich were detained and arrested and 16 officers hurt. 400 visiting fans were attacked on the way to Allianz Arena by 120 Bayern fans.
Magistrates MUST come to terms with licensing laws on match days. There were 52,000 Geordie and Black Cats fans in the stadium, but many others just watched in the many pubs and bars and then fuelled by booze wanted a confrotation with police and rival fans. The F.A., the Premier League and Football League and police must insist on determining kick-off times against the persuasion of the TV compaaies, who want later kick-off times and even provide extra funding for policing if they get their way. Lessons learned?? The F.A. have scheduled the FA Cup Final for a Saturday at 5.15pm. If there is overtime the Wigan and Manchester City fans would miss the last train back north.
I remember going to watch Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United at Loftus Road over 30 years ago and all the visiting fans had to take off their belts and their shoe laces before being allowed in the stadium. It got a bit ugly near the end and I left early and took at taxi to Heathrow Airport and a flight to Paris before the fans left. Next day I watched PSG v Marseilles at the Parc des Princes in peace.