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The return of the football hooligan at Manchester United and City games

A shock dossier compiled by the M.E.N. reveals that the menace of football hooliganism is far from extinct.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show police had to deal with a catalogue of booze-fuelled hooliganism at United and City games last season including:

  • Fights in pubs, grounds and stadium car parks

  • Sickening chants about the Munich air disaster

  • Supporters storming turnstiles and forcing entry into sold-out matches

  • Gangs of racist fans converging on the city from Europe

We asked every police force in the country for post-match reports into games played by the Reds and Blues.

The revelations come as the Home Office is set to announce a rise in the number of incidents of violence and disorder at football matches last season.

United’s ‘liveliest’ fixture was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last in charge – the final game of the season at West Bromwich Albion.

West Midlands Police say hooligans from QPR, Birmingham City, Walsall and Shrewsbury, intent on fighting with visiting Reds, were dispersed before kick-off.

Fights exploded on a car park and gangs of ticketless United supporters broke through police lines to get in the ground. About 150 were thrown out.

Dozens more got tickets for home sections and fights broke out in all four stands. At one point a Red was even ejected from a police briefing location.

City supporters come under fire from GMP for their behaviour in the tumultuous December derby at the Etihad Stadium, which saw fans invade the pitch and Rio Ferdinand hit with a coin.

United supporters were praised for their behaviour at Anfield last September. Merseyside Police described the travelling contingent as ‘well-behaved’. They may have been less so if they had seen a sign on the East Lancs Road that had been sprayed with the slogan ‘MUNICH 58’ before the game.

Council cleaning teams were scrambled to the scene to paint over the graffiti.

A group of Reds were also asked to leave a pub in Stoke after home fans started chanting about the 1958 tragedy.

The documents also reveal trouble is not limited to Premier League matches.

Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts, who oversees many of the force’s football-related operations, believes the M.E.N.’s dossier reinforced the need for police to remain vigilant.

He said: “Over the years we have been extremely successful in reducing the numbers of disorder at football matches. But football hooliganism has not been solved and just because it is not on as wider scale as it has been in the past we cannot afford to rest on our laurels.”

Some of the documents reveal bizarre goings-on including one incident at City where officials launched a cleaning-up operation when fans of Chelsea tossed sticks of celery all over a concourse.

South Wales Police declined to release reviews of United and City’s games with Swansea City.

WBA v United (May 19)

Sir Alex’s last match in charge caused major problems for West Midlands Police. Before the game 50 hooligans from various clubs were dispersed from a pub and fighting started on a car park 15 minutes before kick-off, while United fans broke through police lines. Several exits and entrances were forced open by United fans, and about 150 had to be kicked out.

City v United (Dec 9)

Police soon reported a ‘very lively atmosphere’ with coin throwing and large numbers of ‘risk’ City fans converging on the visiting supporters. Bottles and coins were thrown at celebrating players when Robin van Persie struck a late winner for the Reds, with one coin hitting Rio Ferdinand. Two City fans were arrested for pitch invasion.

Police later stopped a group of City fans trying to make their way back to the ground, where United fans were being held back for 20 minutes, and more missiles were thrown as Reds fans walked towards the city centre.

City V Borussia Dortmund (Oct 3); City V Real Madrid (NOV 22); United V Galatasaray (SEP 19)

  • City had to cancel 700 home end tickets after discovering they had been bought by Dortmund fans who had bypassed the online system.

  • Around 30-40 UK-based Polish Madrid fans were refused entry after trying to get in with an offensive banner and two Austrian-based suspected Madrid hooligans were arrested.

  • Police clashed with around 30-40 UK-based Galatasary fans at Manchester Airport, after supporters let off flares and tried to force their way to the arriving team. Two were arrested, one for a public order offence and the other for assaulting a police officer.

City v Leeds (Feb 17); City v Barnsley (Mar 9)

City’s FA Cup home clashes saw 6,000 visiting supporters head across the Pennines.

Before the Leeds clash, in February, police moved in to stop a group of about 15 City fans getting to visiting fans in the Paramount Pub on Oxford Road. After the game punches were thrown outside Piccadilly 97 with a Leeds fan suffering facial injuries.

Police received reports of fighting at Dry Bar in the Northern Quarter before the Blues took on Barnsley. CCTV footage revealed 10 City fans had thrown tables, chairs and glasses during a fight with Barnsley supporters.

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