On the way to the ground on Sunday, with my wife and 8 year old son, we had the misfortune to walk down Carrow Hill at the same time as a large group of particularly loud and unruly Ipswich fans, all aged about 18.
They spotted my son and I wearing City scarves and started a rant of foul abuse across the road at us. A bit offside when you’re with your 8 year old, eh?
The surprising thing was that there were loads of Police officers lining both sides of Carrow Hill – who all did nothing. Not a peep out of them to say anything to the numpties in blue shirts.
I mentioned to one as I passed ‘That’s a public order offence, isn’t it?’
As we got to the bottom of the hill I was amazed to see a large group of City fans behind a thin fluorescent yellow line. They saw the Ipswich fans and started screaming abuse of their own. My abiding memory is of a woman in her forties in the front row, screaming and swearing.
The Police horses moved about a bit to encourage the Ipswich fans onwards but no-one seemed to get a word from the Police.
Why allow the City fans to gather there? Why not move them on? Direct them along the front of the City stand and away.
We walked along the back of the South Stand and it got much quieter and safer. My son told me he was scared. I suppose some might suggest I shouldn’t take him to a game like this but it’s 2017 not 1985 and he loves football. He’d be heartbroken if he missed any game, let alone this one.
After the game, we steeled ourselves for the trip back up Carrow Hill, we park on Yarmouth Road and walked unchecked past the South Stand and to the bottom of Carrow Hill, where we always wait for my step-son, who sits in the City stand.
I was surprised we were allowed past, as I seem to remember a Police cordon and barriers there to allow Ipswich fans out during our last season in the Championship.
As we waited, things became a little fraught. I was very aware of a the Ipswich fans leaving the ground and walking towards us. The road was blocked by the back of the Barclay by Police vans and officers, who were stopping the City fans from mixing with the Ipswich fans.
However, we were right in the middle of the Ipswich fans, as were plenty of other City fans who had walked from the South Stand direction. There were a lot of threats being shouted and we decided to move across the road towards the STS Exhaust place.
There were plenty of idiots on both sides and one City fan in his fifties goaded the Ipswich fans, who flocked towards him. A teenage lad of about 17, with glasses and a pipe cleaner physique was standing near us with his mum and suddenly lifted his Norwich scarf above his head.
This might as well have been a red rag to a bull as venomous threats were shouted and Ipswich fans menacingly walked over. The Police reacted and shoved them away and I had to tell the speccy pipe cleaner to put his scarf down.
‘There’s loads of Police’ he said.
‘Yep, everyone’s brave until they get punched in the face. Put your scarf down, you’re inciting them’ I replied.
His mum told him too – give me strength.
We decided to move over to the Police cordon and Norwich fans near the STS as my lad was getting very nervous. Once there, we watched proceedings unfold to near farcical proportions for the Police.
The Ipswich fans hung around the bottom of Carrow Hill and Police Officers tried to usher them along with horses as back up. Then though, the Norwich fans were allowed forward and the two sides, basically with the Police in the middle then shouted abuse at each other.
It was a real example of how not to manage an angry crowd.
Realising this could go on for some time, we decided to retire to Starbucks for hot chocolate and to wait it out.
My question though, is why do the Police put the fans and themselves through this?
In the 80’s and 90’s, away fans were regularly kept in the ground for 20 minutes or so, to allow the home supporters time to clear the area, after the game.
Why don’t they do that these days?
If they had done that yesterday then the situation that unfolded wouldn’t have happened.
You don’t need to do that very often because every other team in our league doesn’t pose anywhere near the problem that Norwich v Ipswich does.
Yet again, I thought the Policing of this fixture was pretty poor and exposed a very large number of genuine fans that were not interested in trouble to very unpleasant situations.
Surely the simple decision to keep the Ipswich fans in the ground for 20 minutes could’ve avoided all this, couldn’t it?
Is there a reason this doesn’t happy anymore? Anybody know? Do the club not allow it, surely the Police must be able to influence it?
Human rights probably.
The officers themselves can’t enjoy this, so I cannot understand why they would put themselves in that position, never mind the rest of us.
I expect that the official line from the Police in the EDP will be that the game passed without much in the way of incident – they said that in 2010 when City beat Leeds 1-0 in the 90th minute. That got a bit tasty afterwards too and the Police were completely caught cold.
Next season, I will be changing my parking plans for this one.