The big south coast derby just before Christmas promises to be an exciting affair. I have been to four Pompey v Saints games in my life – two at St Mary’s and two at Fratton Park. I have seen us win twice (1-0, 4-1) and lose twice (2-0, 2-1) and in none of the four games did I once fear for my own personal safety.
The only time where my senses were even peaked were when Pompey fans ran down Goldsmith Ave after winning 1-0 in the league game where Yak scored and Kevin Phillips hit the post deep into injury time. There were many arrests that day and I could see it going off from my vantage point waiting for the train on Fratton station.
The main point here is at the football games themselves I felt fine. Even on the bus after the Carling Cup game in Scum going back to the car park I felt safe enough despite lots of Scummers bashing on the windows etc… I felt safe and wasn’t in a position where I felt like I had to be on my guard.
Some may have noticed the issue – and that isn’t with the fans that attend the actual games. The problem arise with the hangers on. Very few who actually go to the games get involved in any violence. This can be seen by the amount of people arrested for these crimes who actually went to the games.
Hampshire Police though have decided that it is better to treat opposition fans as rats and in doing so saying it is for their own good.
Superintendent Rick Burrows is leading the planning for the policing operation on December 18 and spoke to The News aboout the forces plans for dealing with Southampton fans:
‘The most important objective of the day is to ensure that it is a safe environment for everybody coming to the football.
‘There is a history of trouble caused by a small minority at previous derby matches and balancing up the interests of everybody involved, this unusual tactic is the best one to ensure it is a safe event.
‘Although this tactic hasn’t been used in Hampshire before, it has been proven to be successful in other forces for matches such as Cardiff v Swansea and the West Midlands derby matches.
‘It would be great to have free access for all fans, but the reality is actions of the minority can disproportionately impact on the enjoyment of others.
‘We have to minimise their opportunities to do so.’
So there we have it. Shuttled in, shuttled out without being able to actually enjoy the day. Are SW Trains stopping all trains from Southampton that day and is the M27 being put on lockdown? What do you mean it isn’t? So people without a ticket for the football game can still travel into Portsmouth and cause a ruckus?
Score one for the hooligans and score zero for the local plod.
I think the club should make it an option for people travelling to the game to do so via official coaches but not make it compulsory. Football fans know the way it is and if they decide to go to a game then they should have the freedom to do so at their leisure. The last I heard human beings weren’t cattle.
The small minority as they call it who want to cause trouble will still be there and they will cause trouble unless the police are right on top of it. I fear that by employing this tactic the local police have set themselves up for a hammering because they are treating people differently depending on the colour of their shirt and that isn’t right nor is it fair.
I’ll be watching from my sofa as it is live on the BBC and I rarely get to games these days due to my location but I do not like the idea of fans – even Scummers – being treated like this. It sounds a lot like Tony Blair trying to scare the country into ID cards and other anti-terror laws that were just in fact an excuse to treat people inhumanely under the umbrella of ‘anti-terror’.
What I’m not doing is saying these fans are being treated inhumanely but what I am saying is there isn’t a lot of difference between the two. Just because someone says they are doing something ‘for your own protection’ doesn’t necessarily make it true. Football fans can choose their own way to make it to football matches and if the police are doing their job properly then it will be a safe way however they decide to travel.
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