JJ Clark writes in to Vital Swansea about the upcoming derby match against Cardiff City at the Liberty Stadium
Tuesday night’s crowd ‘disturbance’ at Barnsley was only the latest football fiasco that has darkened the already grim image of football fans worldwide. Outsiders to the sport peer in only to find misbehaviour, disrepute and violence. But what, exactly, has led to this stereotypical image being changed, drastically, for the worst?
In a modern society where political correctness is key, so much is modelled by the media and examples set to us by others. If thirty years ago I was to survey the public on what they thought the typical football fan was, I am sure I would receive a majority answer of a scarf wearing, warm-hearted, well-behaved, whistle-blowing, young man and his father bonding over the patriotism of supporting their club. Nowadays, all that comes to mind when the words ‘football fan’ are muttered are the acronyms YOB and ASBO. But for the few that spoil it for the majority, why should we pay for your mistakes?
It is naive to say that any regular match-going football fan between the seventies and eighties would not have witnessed any form of violence whatsoever, but since then hooliganism at matches has increased beyond recognition and with an arrest rate of one to every two games at the start of the twenty-first century it is safe to say that hooliganism is, whether we like it or not, an issue that needs to be addressed.
Thankfully, it is. In 2005 it was announced that arrest-rates for football-related crime had fallen by 11 per cent, this was mainly due to the formation of the UK Football Policing Unit.
Although many of today’s fans conclude that overly excessive amounts of stewards and police and games are just a nuisance and a minor annoyance they are, inevitably, there for our protection (and popping beach balls).
With a well-publicised (often for all the wrong reasons) South Wales derby looming over the horizon in just under two weeks time, the safety and behaviour of the fans will again be well publicised if not all goes to plan. There have already been many issues raised with policing costs and fans anger at having to get up four hours earlier than usual for what should be just another game. But as we all know, Swansea versus Cardiff always provides us with a little extra than we bargained for. Upon arrival at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, November 7th expect to see riot police, dog handlers, police on horses and a swarm of officers in fluorescent jackets. Expect the same for Swansea fans.
For many, next Saturday should be an enjoyable, exciting, scintillating well-contested match. But for those who refuse to sit down and obey police orders you may find yourself sitting in the Liberty Stadium cells. Although I should be encouraging families to attend the game, I must warn fans of Section 27 Order from the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, which saw a large group of sober Stoke City fans banned from a Manchester pub for sitting quietly which hit the news just a few years ago. Section 27 gives police officers the power to move on any individual from any place at any time and to ban them from returning there for up to 48 hours, arguing your case could get you into further trouble.
On a positive note, the possibility of away fans being banned completely from attending South Wales derby games is no more after Cardiff City manager Dave Jones pleaded with both sets of fans to ‘behave’. Cardiff City have sold their allocation of 1,800 tickets for the game and I am informed that both clubs have been warned that if any more ‘crowd disturbances’ ensue another hike in policing costs or the game being played behind closed doors could result. So trouble and coin throwing at referees aside, let’s hope that both sets of fans behave and of course, Swansea pick up three points along the way.
With thanks to JJ Clark for sending in the article.