Belfast Telegraph

Boxing Day football matches hit by fighting among fans

Trouble erupted at three football matches across Northern Ireland yesterday with police making a number of arrests.

One eyewitness described clashes between rival Glenavon and Portadown supporters at the Mid Ulster derby as being like an "eight-minute scrum".

The trouble took place after the Carling Premiership game which Portadown won 2-0.

"At the end of the match Glenavon fans edged towards the stand where the Portadown fans were based," said the observer.

"Stewards on both sides rushed to control the frenzied crowd and were hit with stones and missiles.

"The police were waiting outside and eventually brought the baying crowd until control after nearly 10 minutes of fighting.

"Police escorted the fans out of the ground separately."

Glenavon officials declined to comment on the incident.

There was high sectarian tension at the match between Loughgall and Lurgan Celtic at Lakeview Park.

During the Bob Radcliffe Cup final, five Loughgall fans produced a Union flag and proceeded to head towards the Lurgan Celtic dugout.

A source told the Belfast Telegraph: "The men were told to put the flag away by a club official, and asked why they were there.

"As far as I could gather they never attend matches, so they were undoubtedly opportunistic fans."

Both sets of supporters left through the same gate, and according to one witness the men carrying the Union flag started another disturbance.

Police had to be called after fighting broke out.

The violence then spilled out into the car park and revellers from a local bar became involved.

One man said he witnessed a Lurgan Celtic fan being kicked and punched to the ground while his young child stood crying.

Finally, play was suspended yesterday at the Ironside Cup final after a scuffle broke out.

Sporting Lisburn and Lambeg Rangers went head-to-head at Stanley Park, the home ground of Lisburn Rangers.

The game was stopped for a short time after a scuffle broke out between opposing fans.

The Ironside finals have been a big success at this venue during the last two years.

No-one from the police Press office was available for comment.

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