A Belgian police water cannon amid Hull City fans last night. Inset, Ashley Harper, who was injured by a bottle.
A Hull City fan has described how his teenage son was hit over the head with a glass bottle and left with a head injury as supporters came under attack after the Europa League match in Lokeren last night.
Craig Harper, a city fan for more than 30 years, had travelled by ferry to the game in Belgium with his son Ashley.
He told the Mail how police herded Hull City fans down a narrow street past a pub used by Lokeren supporters, where they were then pelted with bottles.
“I looked round and his head was covered in blood,” said Mr Harper.
“I was screaming at the police for first aid for him and they did absolutely nothing, they just looked at us.
“All I had was some tissue in my pocket. I knew there was a petrol station around the corner and I was trying to get there to get him some water but the police kept shoving us back with riot shields.”
Mr Harper, of Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, said bottles were thrown from the Cafe de Mierennest down a street called Daknamstraat.
“The police stopped us right outside this pub, it was like they knew what was going to happen,” he said. “It was absolutely disgraceful. We were right at the front because we had to get to the ferry.
“We were trying to get away and they just kept us all together, taking us down this little street. There were grandmas and grandads and kids in the crowd.
“Something needs to be done, the club should make an official complaint to UEFA.”
Mr Harper said the atmosphere before the game had been friendly and he could not understand the tactics used by the police.
“People will be saying that it is Hull hooligans who have shown us up but there was no provocation from the Hull fans whatsoever,” he said. “We were just in high spirits, we were signing like we had been in the ground and we were pelted with glass and bottles.”
Following the match, Tigers fans took to social media to criticise the actions of Belgian police.
They say they were confronted by riot police with dogs and water cannons.
Supporters group Amber Nectar said City fans had been “needlessly kettled” by police in full riot gear as they left the ground.
A number of City fans suffered injuries and there are unconfirmed reports six supporters were taken to hospital.
One supporter, Jan Holmes, said on Twitter: “Some (fans) were injured being herded by police. Had bottles thrown at us. Most frightening thing in 50 years supporting City.”
Andy Clark, who was at the match, said: “The Belgian Police should be ashamed of themselves tonight. Disgraceful, utterly disgraceful.”
Chris Skelton, also at the match, said: “How any police force can stand there while kids and women are showered with glass is beyond me. Unbelievable.”
Lokeren fans have apologised to City supporters and blamed a small minority of troublemakers.
Hans De Vylder, a Lokeren fan who watched the match, said the atmosphere both before and during the game had been excellent.
He told the Mail how police led “brave” City fans past one pub where there had been trouble in the 1980s.
He said: “I feel very sorry about what happened for the impeccable Hull City fans who were at the game, who were at the market place during the day, drinking beers and soft drinks, having fun, enjoying the day in Lokeren and the evening at Daknamstadium.
“Unfortunately for them they lost. But the atmosphere was great and hopefully it will be the same next week at the return in Hull and KC stadium.”
“99.99 per cent of Lokeren fans are just football fans who don’t want to quarrel at all!”
Hull man Derrick Johnson has lived in Lokeren for five years and lives just 100 yards from the Mierennest pub where the trouble happened.
He said: “My overriding feeling is one of sadness because the atmosphere throughout the day had been brilliant with both sets of fans mingling.
“A pub in the town centre was closed a few years ago after away fans started throwing bottles, but I have not seen any trouble since I lived here.
“There was talk here before the game that fans from Anderlecht were going to come down here.
“I don’t believe this group of two dozen fans who caused the trouble actually have anything to do with Sporting Lokeren.”
Humberside Police said three Hull City fans were arrested last night. It is not clear how many Belgian fans were arrested and the Mail is awaiting a response from Belgian police.
Two City fans were arrested for being drunk and disorderly and one for criminal damage.
A Humberside Police spokesman said: “The disorder witnessed last night will be taken into account as the return leg approaches and we will police the match accordingly.”
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