Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Inevitable overreaction follows football lairiness

There's only one big football story today and it's nothing to do with my own team, who were found to have the most dedicated Premiership fans in London by a Virgin Money survey published earlier this month.

Last night West Ham and Millwall met at Upton Park in a Carling Cup second round tie which predictably went sour outside and inside the ground.

Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of football and football fans in the capital could have foreseen trouble between these two firms and it's no surprise all manner of clueless, reactionary pundits and officials from Sky, the FA, the BBC and elsewhere have been chiming in with their two cents. One game blighted by the shocking image of old fat men running on a pitch does not mean a return to the '70s. One poor stabbed fan and a dart in the head for another unlucky punter outside the ground doesn't, either. It's obviously a terrible shame anyone got hurt at a football match and doesn't set a decent example for young fans but let's get some persepctive after one heavy night in east London.

Worse tragedies happen in schools, estates and high streets every day. Some people, usually those with the pwer, just aren't happy unless they've someone to blame for anything and everything. Anyone. Anyone but themselves.

As ever Scroobius Pip talks a great deal of sense on the matter.

London Liked had its own spys present. A WHU fan said this:

"Most West Ham fans booed the pitch invaders which won’t get a mention in the papers.

The Sun this morning reported some Millwall fans surrounded a few police on horses and were trying to push them over!?!? The immediate area around Upton Park tube on the way home was like walking on a road of broken glass , which left little to the imagination. And the West Ham fans gathered outside the ground (who clearly hadn’t been to the game) certainly weren’t there to clear up the mess!

Great atmosphere after 75 minutes or so. Up until then it was pretty poor. Would certainly have turned into a fall scale riot on the pitch if the Millwall fans hadn’t stayed in their section.

Had a number of messages during the game about the violence outside so was obviously a little nervous but seems like the bulk of the fighting was in side streets up to half a mile away and planned.."

A Millwall fan who accompanied the spy above writes:

"It was a good game in which the Lions share of possession was indeed with the Lions, until the trouble started within the stadium. This in turn lifted the performance of the Irons. I didn't feel at all threatened as I've been to many games like this, all I had to do while in the west ham end was talk about them in the third person.

There were lots of muggy old bill around but didn't see any real trouble as we were stuck on the District line for half hour outside of Mile End. This was because of all the trouble at Upton Park, which resulted in both that station and East Ham stations being closed. We had to walk from Plaistow.

Funniest thing of the night was a bloke running out of the Millwall end and just piling into the chicken run*. Didn't see him after that.

But it'll be the Spammers who get in trouble as the FA set a dangerous precedent a few years ago when Victimpool were visitors down The Den. On that occasion we were charged with failure to control the crowd in our own stadium.

The goings on outside cannot be put to either club as it is a matter of civil unrest which comes down to the plod. Enjoyable evening."

*Chicken Run definition according to above Millwall fan: West Ham's old stand to the left of the away supporters, made infamous by the ICF's exploits in the 80's. Visiting fans have to walk up the side of it to gain entry to the away end.

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