Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Linda Brien: Mob rule is not confined to Italy

Football hooliganism still running wild throughout UK

OKAY so they don't shoot football fans here but Altrincham town centre wasn't a bundle of fun Friday week ago.

Millwall supporters arriving the night before their FA Cup tie with the North West team gained entrance to a newly refurbished pub in scarfless twos and threes and then did what they do so well - trashed it.

Now Italy it isn't. The horrific scenes of violence last week that saw a Lazio fan killed - the second football fan to die this year in crowd trouble - are not seen on these streets.

But there is a sense that it's never that far way, either. Beneath the quasi-calm there is always an edge.

Fear is a very potent emotion. Parents prevented their kids from going into Altrincham town centre on match day. The shops were unusually quiet.

And even though it was a sell-out match, some with tickets opted not to go. Having seen what the We Don't Cares did to their local, not many wanted their kids near them.

With clubs stewarded and policed to the hilt, it now tends to be away from the grounds that the morons wreak their havoc. The malice is funnelled into town centres where beneath impotent CCTV, a minority tie scarves around their ugly mugs and go for it.

Just because they're not tearing seats off their hinges and piling into each-other on the half-way line doesn't mean we've got football violence sorted.

And we have no right to look and sigh at those crazy foreigners in Italy running amok when an "acceptable" level of violence still sours the fringes of football here. They haven't gone away, you know.

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