Belfast Telegraph

England fans ran riot: Retribution swift and brutal as Lansdowne thugs paid for sins

By John Laverty

I was only a few yards away when it all kicked off. The riot, not the match.

The game itself was merely the excuse. The venue, if you like.

It was perfect for the miscreants. After all, you knew exactly what time you - and them - would be there.

Even better, you knew the TV cameras would be there too, recording the carnage at Lansdowne Road.

This ‘friendly’ was always going to be volatile, atmosphere-wise. Republic of Ireland supporters had already had a taste of a rancid atmosphere, in Belfast 15 months earlier; that infamous ‘Night in November’ when Windsor Park was submerged in naked, tribal bile.

Perhaps the In-gur-land ‘fans’ wanted to recreate the mood music of that evening; they’d been goading Dubliners all day with lewd, anti-Irish chants.

To paraphrase the title of those compilation albums which reached the height of their success in the mid-90s, that’s NOT what I’d call music.

No one, however, foresaw the level of violence that cascaded down the stand midway through the first half.

The Press box was only a few rows behind where the carnage was unfolding; a fusion of fear and fascination enveloped the cowering hacks.

After the stadium emptied, the culprits were corralled into a tight corner.

Then... well, let’s just say retribution from the gardai was swift and brutal.

The chanting was ultimately quelled that notorious night, although it’s been going on at England games ever since.

But names, not sticks and stones, will be most prevalent when the Three Lions return to Dublin in June.

England fans have largely cleaned up their act; some filthy residue, however, is proving hard to shift.

Belfast Telegraph


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