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Police are imposing draconian measures on Hull

Tigers feel they are being treated unfairly

icon cops220 February ~ When Huddersfield Town travelled to the KC Stadium eight seasons ago, for a match in League One, a fight broke out between a handful of young men in the main car park. It wasn't pleasant and resulted in some rightly stiff sentences from the courts. The thugs in question weren't even attending the game. This altercation has, however, been the stick with which West Yorkshire Police (WYP) – and Humberside Police, when the West Yorkshire clubs visit Hull – have beaten Hull City supporters ever since.

Tigers fans aren't a controversial or even especially boisterous bunch but WYP have never failed to try to reduce their numbers when looking at fixtures involving the club on their patch. Their latest effort has tipped many peaceable City fans over the edge. Having already switched the Easter Saturday game at Huddersfield to a 12.30pm kick-off, for the usual nonsensical reasons involving public safety and disorder prevention, they've conceded power over the match to Sky and allowed a 5.20 start instead. However, they have imposed draconian restrictions on the Tigers supporters not unreasonably wishing to make the 70-mile trip.

Only 1,500 tickets will be given to Hull City and each supporter purchasing one will be forced to travel only on allocated club-run coaches. No fan is to be permitted to travel under their own steam and by a means of their choice, thereby making the journey pretty much impossible for the hundreds of supporters who no longer live in East Yorkshire. This legally dubious stipulation has left the fans apoplectic.

WYP appear to pressurise the Football League each July to make sure games at Leeds United are scheduled for weeknights, while the last trips to both Huddersfield and Bradford (a distant eight seasons ago) were both switched to Sunday lunchtimes. Beyond the anger lies confusion; though Hull fans are renowned for disliking Leeds, there is next to no animosity towards Huddersfield. The two Sheffield clubs engender much more antipathy yet Hull games at Bramall Lane and Hillsborough have happily and uneventfully commenced at 3pm on a Saturday with great regularity.

The official supporters' club and two highly influential fanzines have issued a joint statement imploring Hull City to decline the tickets until better treatment and more trust for the fans has been secured, to the tune of a bigger allocation and the freedom to travel at a time and via a method of an individual's choosing. The club claims it had long negotiations with WYP over this issue but couldn't budge them; sadly for the current regime, the evidence of their predecessors suggest they didn't try hard enough.

In 2005, City chairman Adam Pearson refused to take any tickets for a New Years Eve game at Leeds until identical restrictions on fans were lifted, while even his discredited successor Paul Duffen was admirably critical of Colchester United on behalf of Tigers fans when a 2007 game at Layer Road was wrongly postponed due to heavy rain just an hour before kick-off. Though the club has said it has done all it can, the level of indignation from supporters – and great interest from local media organisations, some of whom have rarely been friends of Hull City or football – suggests that it could and should try again, and take direct action if necessary.

Rattled by their powerlessness to tell Sky where to go, WYP have taken their frustration out on the fans of Hull City, an easy target. There are no more unruly elements among the travelling Tigers fans than any other group of supporters and they do not ever invade pitches or attack goalkeepers. The fans simply want to watch a progressive Hull City team earn a place back in the Premier League this season and are, again, being stopped by an authoritarian bunch of uniformed weight-throwers who haven't a clue. Matthew Rudd

Comment on 20-02-2013 14:07:06 by Lincoln #764816
"Tigers fans aren't a controversial or even especially boisterous bunch "

Are you having a laugh? As a Lincoln fan I remember a hoard of 100 that wouldn't go into Sincil Bank and later, for reasons best known to the police, they were led to a pub to contain them. They smashed it up and drank it dry. Turns out this was not a one off.

I know it is not all fans and just a minority, in fact a Hull fan lent me his scarf when I was shivering at the KC watching Hull play Oxford in League 2 days, but that is no different to Millwall or Leeds.
Comment on 20-02-2013 16:07:34 by geobra #764861
'You can't watch Hull play at Huddersfield unless you travel on an officially authorised coach' reminds me of 'You can't buy a ticket for Roma v Atalanta if you live in Lombardia'. Both are very dangerous precedents which need to be challenged in the courts. They are a threat to fundamental freedoms that we ignore at our peril.
Comment on 20-02-2013 20:50:40 by Senfkutte #764991
Hull fans should buy tickets for the area next to the away end and travel however they choose. They should protest and show the police that they can fuck right off.

Oh and somebody should go to court about this before it happens to someone else elsewhere. If the fans just take it it could be a precendt for other police forces who decide that restricting people's right to free movement makes their job easier.
Comment on 21-02-2013 02:55:07 by madmickyf #765095
Sounds like WYP haven't learned a thing from the Hillsborough disaster. Football supporters are still just cattle to be herded around and locked up in cages!
Comment on 21-02-2013 06:38:19 by jameswba #765104
Not trying to defend what WYP are doing at all. As Geobra says, it sets a very dangerous precedent - at the very least.

But weren't there some serious incidents involving Hull fans before a pre-season friendly in York a couple of years ago? If so, might this have played apart in WYP's 'thinking'?
Comment on 21-02-2013 08:10:33 by geobra #765116
I think that these bans and restrictions are quite possibly illegal, and that the authorities know this but are hoping that nobody will test their legality in the courts. Until this happens, they will continue to treat football fans as a public nuisance. Most individual fans cannot afford the risk of going to court, so maybe what is needed is a class action brought by the FSF.

This would be more difficult in Italy, where there is no organisation like the FSF. It is something that is really needed here.
Comment on 21-02-2013 09:58:53 by Jobi1 #765123
There have actually been a number of precedents in recent years of this 'forced coach travel' for away supporters at so-called "high risk" fixtures, so this is far from being the first. All Burnley v Blackburn and Swansea v Cardiff have this condition imposed on them, as well as some of Cardiff's other away games against teams such as Millwall and West Ham. I'm not say it justifies the police's actions, just that Tigers' fans are not being singled out here.

I have to comment on the reputation too. While as other commenters have stated of course it is a minority who cause trouble, at Hull in my experience it's quite a sizable minority unfortunately. As a York fan I have witnessed disorder almost every time we have played Hull in the last 20 years. "...they do not ever invade pitches..." is a bit of a bold claim - I remember a game against Bradford not that far into the past that featured a large fight on the field as the Hull fans tried to 'take' the Bradford end.

Again, I'm not trying to justify these draconian measures, but I have to say Hull fans do have a bit of a reputation.
Comment on 21-02-2013 12:44:40 by DeanoTiger159 #765225
Oh Lincoln, you are living in the past. When was the last time Hull played you, you are not even a league club. Just like the WYP with memories that go way back. We are like any other football club and have so passionate supporters, not trouble causers. Football has to make a stand against such draconian measures which infringe civil liberties. Any games involving local rivalries could be affected in the future if this type of policing becomes the norm. The WYP have no other justification other than minimising costs to themselves.
Comment on 21-02-2013 13:12:06 by Lincoln #765238
I think we last played you in 2004, was a decent game although might have lost 1-0. Presumably you think I wrote this as a biased fan, hence you little snipe at League status where I guess your memory doesn't go as far back as when you were a club similar in size and financial dire straits to ours and now you are too big for that. However as I say, I have been to Hull a few times against various teams. One time was with Southampton just after Millwall had visited and torn up lots of seats in the away end. Still only a minority there again.

But your club blinkers have meant you missed the incident with York from 2010 which I attached a link of. This I think falls into the recent category, and echos the situation from the last time Hull played Lincoln.

I think WYP are well within their rights to be concerned about a club with an element of fans that cause trouble. With my Lincoln hat on again I can't think of many clubs where there has been so much violence as Hull. My early memory of a Lincoln game was watching a Hull fan running down the street with a police dog attached to his arm. Perhaps Grimsby run you close and for this reason there are strict restrictions on the numbers allowed and spot checks of cars going into the city.

There are many rules in society imposed on the majority because of the minority. Not drinking in view of the pitch, not being allowed to take darts into a game (I am a pub player would never dream of throwing them into a crowd) etc. And has been said it is not an exception, Portsmouth and Southmapton have the same thing with the coaches. I don't think anyone is picking on Hull from WYP and I think it is an acceptable measure if it keeps the watching public safe.
Comment on 21-02-2013 15:33:25 by Coral #765325
Matthew, did you write a similar article when Millwall, Leicester, and Leeds all had the respective away fans banned from travelling? Was a very odd experience watching Millwall score against Leicester and for there to just be total silence. Far be it from me to suggest your outlook is parochial, but Hull have by no means a unique situation and by certainly not the strictest sanction.
Comment on 21-02-2013 15:58:51 by Janik #765350
I find that criticism odd. It is not unreasonable for a Hull fan to be more aware of the issues presenting themselves to Hull than to other clubs. Unless the author has been supportive of the authorities actions or dismissive of fans of those other clubs protests about them, then I don't think the lack of an article about them is particularly relevant.
Or to put it another way, I don't see an issue with people being parochial about the way they become aware of this situation, as long as once they have got active they stay active.
Comment on 21-02-2013 19:16:35 by geobra #765440
This thread would make interesting reading for the Italian media, who think that there are no longer any issues involving fan behaviour in English football. Just one of a number of misapprehensions that they have about the game in England. A very different scenario to the one I faced when I arrived here in 1987. As far as I could I avoided opening my mouth and 'giving myself away' when I was at matches.
Comment on 21-02-2013 23:04:24 by Coral #765581
Depends Janik on the motivation for me. Is it upset at the methods overal or at not being able to get a Hull ticket? Kind of like a Nimby who can reel off facts about wind farm's noise frequency range, power output and number of bird strikes. Yet the real reason they are against it is because there is to be a turbine built in their garden. If it were built elsewhere they couldn't give a stuff

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