Betfair blogger Gareth Freeman hopes so see those supporters responsible banned for a significant time from football, if not for life.
The disgusting scenes at Upton Park last night were clearly something the world of English football should be ashamed of. Perhaps one of the most shocking things about the violence that tarnished West Ham’s victory over Millwall was the age of those involved. It wasn’t a bunch of kids in Burberry caps and Stone Island jackets – it was a load of 40/50 year-olds with Burberry caps and Stone Island jackets.
All I can say to these idiots is go back to the 80’s. Did they all get excited because the Hammers drew Millwall and they thought it would be a great excuse to have a reunion tear up? Quite possibly, one thing is for certain and that is the fact it was clearly organised, otherwise the trouble would have been largely confined to before and after the match and inside of the ground rather than turning the surrounding area of Upton Park into a war zone.
Football Factory may be a decent film and there have been some good books written by ‘former’ hooligans which are worth reading. But the game has changed and there is no place in any sport for this kind of behaviour, or indeed any place in society. What exactly are they fighting for? I’d been considering writing an article about the ugly reappearance of violence in football for a while. In no way is this an isolated incident, though the scale of the trouble last night was shocking, over the summer there was a bit of bother between Bolton and Hibs fans at the Reebok and I’ve heard stories from elsewhere as well.
Figures in fact show the number of football related arrests have risen slowly and steadily over the last three seasons and it would seem this kind of behaviour is becoming fashionable again. This topped all that though and, as good a job as the FA and the police have done at stamping out violence in the past, the efforts need to be stepped up once again. This is what one Millwall fan who had been at the game had to tell the BBC: “It was like a war zone outside the stadium. There was fighting all round.
“I brought my kids with me tonight and they’ve seen some violence that is indescribable.”
The guys who were involved in the trouble, from the videos I’ve seen at least, looked as if they were old enough to have families and kids themselves (some of the probably grandchildren). Football has, for good or ill, become more of a family affair over the years and there is no need for anyone to see this kind of thing in the game anymore.
I’m sorry to say this, especially to all the genuine West Ham fans out there, but I honestly think they should be kicked out of the competition. It is a sad thing to say because I have a great admiration for West Ham as a club, they play attractive football, have a fantastic history and their youth academy has produced some of the country’s finest players over the years. However, this is immaterial in the face of such ugly scenes and if the club is punished maybe the fans will reconsider kicking off next time. In all honesty I’m not sure how effective this will be but something needs to be done.
The FA have moved to say they don’t see this incident as affecting England’s World Cup bid for 2018. This could be true in that so called ‘violent’ countries have been allowed to hold tournaments in the past. Whether or not it will affect England’s bid it certainly won’t help and if a few idiots are hell bent on causing trouble it can ruin football for everyone.
The back pages should have been dominated by Port Vale’s triumph over Sheffield Wednesday, their second Sheffield scalp in the competition. Instead they were filled with pictures of ugly morons who are old enough to know better. Hopefully a sizeable proportion will be given bans from attending football for a significant amount of time, if not life.