Crowd control & policing

Joyce Woolridge bought a ticket for £12, went to Barcelona and saw her team win the European Cup, albeit from a great height. Not everyone was so lucky

“If there is anyone with a spare match ticket, would they contact the gentleman in seat 16B.” An ironic cheer greeted this announcement as our plane joined the other charters making their way to Spain for the Champions League final. As it turned out, the hopeful passenger would find no shortage of people with tick­ets available once we touched down in Barcelona.

The latest political attempts to counter hooliganism are a step too far, argues Stan Pearce

As the political landscape of the country has changed – so runs the conventional wis­dom – so has the attitude of Westminster to football. However, anyone who believed that Trade Secretary Stephen Byers’s decision to prevent the takeover of Manchester United by Rupert Murdoch signalled another stage in the evolution of politicians’ thinking towards the game should have witnessed a low-key debate in the House of Commons in the week of the Byers decision.

Steve Greenfield and Guy Osborn discuss the latest findings from the government to tackle hooliganism 

The recently announced Home Office Review of Football-Related Legislation makes 29 recommendations for changes in the law, including a new raft of specific measures to deal with hooligans. Although the government has invited comments, it seems the measures may come into force earlier than anticipated, since the Conservative MP Simon Burns has published a private member’s Bill that contains many of the recommendations and this may be pushed quickly through parliament with government support.

It promised to showcase the best the third division had to offer, but instead the game was a throwback to the darker days, as Paul Mullen explains

Hartlepool fans had looked forward to their team’s first appearance in a live televised match, at Halifax, ever since it was announced at the start of the season. It will now be remembered for all the wrong reasons. What should have been a night of celebration so very nearly turned into a disaster and, as usual, the fans got the blame.

You'd think with a heavy police presence at least one of the officers would arrest any violent football fans, wouldn't you? Well as Paul Mathews discovered, not even the policemen want to hear about trouble at games

It’s five o’clock on a Saturday afternoon in October. You return to your car after a typically fiery local derby, comforted by the presence of a number of uniformed police officers, who stay close to the main contingent of away supporters. However, at some point you must peel off from the main group and negotiate the side streets. Seconds later, a rival supporter suddenly comes alongside you. Seeing several police officers in the distance, you decide to ignore him and keep your head down. The rival fan decides to exorcise his frustration at his own team’s 4-0 stuffing by acquainting his right fist with your face.

Andrew Fraser explains how a recent court case involving a Stockport steward highlighted widespread concern about ground safety

Football safety experts fear a renewed smug-ness about stadium safety, plus financial restraints on clubs outside the Premiership, could threaten a new Hillsborough in English grounds.

Although standing at football matches is forbidden, Ashley Shaw disapproves of the thuggish stewarding at Old Trafford

When eye-witness accounts talk of scuffling in the stand between stewards and supporters, it is a clear sign that all is not well at Old Trafford.

John Williams looks at the explosion of books nostalgic for the days of mass hooliganism

At West Ham in late September, a few away travel truths struck home a little more sharply than I can remember before. The District Line train eastbound at 2.30 was thinly populated. A number of passengers were Europeans, picking up a Premier League game between the Hammers and Liverpool while on holiday in London. Other Liverpool fans (and their kids) were openly wearing dispiritingly new team shirts.

Stewards are often unpopular in football grounds, but Chris Paxton puts their side of the story

Wembley Stadium, the Coca-Cola Cup Final, 1995. With my usual bad sense of positioning, I found myself in the Bolton end next to a couple of Liverpool supporters all decked out in their red shirts and scarves. Everything was fine (just about) until McManaman scored. The two Liverpool fans jumped to their feet and started celebrating. The Bolton fans nearby started complaining and somebody behind me threw something at them. Guess who got hit? That’s right. Yours truly. Fortunately for me, they didn’t return after half-time.

It may not be in the public eye, but Tim Springett believes that away supporters are treated badly by the powers that be

The experiences of Manchester United supporters in Portugal recently were probably the most shocking and extreme examples of a phenomenon which remains unacceptably widespread in football even at home; the view, held by clubs, the police and the FA, of visiting team supporters as second-class citizens.

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