FC Koln’s visit to London did not go as expected. Their team succumbed to a 3-1 loss, and their fans delayed the game by an hour. Twenty thousand hopeful German fans thronged to London, in anticipation of being allowed into the Emirates for watching their team play, but limited ticket allocation meant a lot of the fans returned frustrated. Nearly 17,000 Cologne fans had to be turned back, which led to the Germans resorting to vandalism. UEFA has initiated an investigation into the event, but it wasn’t the first time Football fans went overboard.
Hooliganism is a term that originated in the UK, and the English are known to be the instigators of football related violence. Let’s look at some of the instances where the Premier League witnessed fan trouble.
Death of a Steward – Aston Villa vs Queens Park Rangers
Aston Villa and QPR faced off in a League Cup encounter in September 2004. Though it was a low-profile encounter with not much at stake, there was an ulterior motive for a group of fans who were there for more than just a football match. A group of 100 QPR fans left early as their team were defeated 3-1, with 5 minutes of football left to play, or so it seemed. Instead, they waited outside the stadium to initiate a massive brawl. As the Aston Villa fans exited the stadium, the ultras hurled bottles and bricks at the fans. The stewards had formed a line separating the two sets of fans, but a stampede that followed led to the death of David Ireland, a dedicated Steward who wanted to eliminate the hate and hooliganism from the game we all love.
Arsenal vs Chelsea – Off the pitch
Arsenal overcame Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final. The North London side outplayed the Premier League champions in a tight encounter as they overcame Manchester United as the most successful team in the competition. On the balance of things, it seemed to be a fair result as Chelsea lacked the fight they showed during their successful league campaign. But all was not well.
Post match, as most of the fans were making their way back home, a set of fans started a massive brawl at Wembley Park stadium. A group of rival fans had a verbal altercation, before going too far, trading blows in the process. While there was no serious injuries, which was due to the timely intervention by police and authorities, the scene was scary to witness.
Manchester United vs Liverpool – Munich vs Hillsborough chants
Manchester United and Liverpool have a historical rivalry. Two of the most successful teams in England have tested the North-West divide on many occasions. But their rivalry has its dark elements too. Manchester United’s rise from the tragedy in Munich has helped establish them as one of the best football teams in Europe, whereas Liverpool’s disaster at Hillsborough in their FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest has elicited sympathies from across the world. Tensions are high when the two meet, and either set of fans do their best to let their feelings be known. Most of the times, however, they end up going a bit too far. Chants against the Munich and Hillsborough disaster were a regular feature whenever the two met.
Manchester is home to two of the best clubs in World Football, and some of the most notorious hooligans in the game. After City beat United 2-1 at home, the fans left the stadium to head back home. But verbal altercations on the streets, especially after a match played with such high intensity led to some ugly exchanges between the set of fans. A fist brawl followed, along with a few fans hurling chairs and stones at each other. The Greater Manchester Police, since then, has taken special measures to ensure such occurrences won’t be frequent.
Milwall FC – The supposed ‘home’ of Hooliganism
Milwall FC is synonymous with football hooliganism. Their tirades with fan trouble goes way back, evident with one of their most famous chants,
‘No one likes us, we don’t care’
Their stadium, known as the Den has been home to a lot of fan fighting. One of the most famous incidents was their league encounter against Ipswich Town in 1978.
After being thrashed 6-1 at the Den, a set of Milwall hooligans showed their frustrations on fans, the opposition and their own fans included. A bloody riot followed scores were injured, some escaping death by fine margins.
Sir Bobby Robson, manager of Ipswich Town back then, went on record to say, “They [the police] should have turned the flamethrowers on them”.
Hooliganism is on the decline and has no place in Football. Hopefully, it stays that way.