If anyone needed a reminder that English football still has to rid itself completely of football violence, yesterday’s FA Cup match between Premier League Hull and League One Millwall in the FA Cup proved the point.
Sadly for Millwall, the thuggish and hooligan elements long associated with the club appeared to rear their ugly head once more, with the ASBOs in the stands using the FA Cup backdrop to magnify their violent behaviour on the “big stage.” Although according to reports Millwall fans were not alone in causing trouble, as Hull fans were also culpable for the violent scenes which marred the fourth round tie.
Inside the ground, seats were ripped up and used as missiles by rival supporters as segregation broke down and police in riot gear were deployed to keep the fans separated. Outside the ground bars were forced shut after staff were threatened and streets outside the ground were closed more than 90 minutes after the final whistle.
So far 12 arrests have been reported and more are expected once closed circuit TV pictures have been studied.
Chief Chief inspector Darren Downs was left in no-doubt as to who were the troublemakers at the heart of the disturbances.
Downs: “We had intelligence that this was a planned incident involving about 500 ‘risk category’ individuals among around 3,000 Millwall fans. We understand that some groups who follow the club identify one match per season to cause serious trouble. Last year it was an FA Cup tie at Coventry on the same weekend. Problems developed before the match kicked off when a number of fans in the Millwall section began to tear up the segregation netting placed over the empty seats, allowing them to get closer to Hull supporters. Officers moved in to form a barrier but seats, bottles and coins were thrown by fans from both teams.”