The scenes at Man United‘s match in France on Tuesday night brought back horrible images of the Hillsborough disaster 18 years ago.
While English stadiums have moved on to prevent such disasters recurring, many European stadiums are years behind with fencing and poor policing – particularly when the English are in town.
Our resident United fan, Kenny, was at the match and describes the scene and shows how European police and media still brand English supporters as yobs and hooligans – something which is far from the truth.
Let me tell you that the whole thing was a fit up from start to finish.
The French dibble (police) was “at it” all day – baton charging any groups of say larger than 20, and scattering everyone all over the place. Once we got to Lens mid-afternoon there was two bars on opposite corners of the street. Hardly any singing as it was quite early and lots had still not arrived. Outside one of the bars roughly 40 dibble had camped outside and it was clear they were provoking confrontation. Only 15 minutes after amassing outside this bar they did a co-ordinated charge on the bar over the road, which sent fans running all over the place. A group of fans came running up the road towards the bar we was all in. Among them was a guy carrying what looked like a young girl of about 15 years of age. As he was running with her under his arm, two policemen chased them hitting the guy over the head whilst the other battered the girls legs with a night stick.
On arrival at the ground, any “English” supporters where plucked out of the queues and escorted by stewards and police to the lower section of the stand which by this point was already clearly filled to bursting point. I made it known to stewards that we was in the wrong section and produced my ticket as proof, he then took us all over to 2 coppers who told us in no uncertain terms to get back in line for the lower tier or be batoned out of the stadium to a waiting police van.
We was actually being forcibly pushed by the riot police into the crushing fans. There was fans passing people who were injured over the fencing and there was probably the best part of 1,000 fans still to come into the ground. Those who actually made it over the fences were CS gased, batoned and arrested. It was an absolute disgrace. And all this whilst the second tier of the stand we all had tickets for stared down at us totally empty.
What made things worse was the French press the next morning had plastered all over the front pages…”Manchester hooligans…..animals” accompanied by pictures of police rioting with football supporters. Problem being, the pictures showed fans topless, with shorts on, trainers with no socks, and some of them with red crosses painted on their faces.
Well let me tell you! No one in their right mind would have been dressed like that in temperatures of 2 degrees, and some of the matchday morning it actually sleeted for 40 minutes. The pictures were archive photos of England fans from years gone by.
Hopefully for all football supporters the inquiry into the events finds the truth and the French authorities are forced to change their ways.