The return of the not so good old days? soccer violence on Green Street

Daniel D’Alfonso 
BLOODSHED: A fan receives treatment after wild scenes outside Upton Park

BLOODSHED: A fan receives treatment after wild scenes outside Upton Park

It was the horrendous scenes of a bygone era that many had thought would never be witnessed at a soccer game again. Not since the troubles of Heysal in 1985 where 39 Juventus fans died after attacks from opposition Liverpool fans had we seen such wild crowd behaviour. 

That was until two of soccer’s most bitter rivals met each other for the first time in over 20 years. London sides West Ham and Millwall share a hatred for one another which is unrivalled in English soccer, and when the two teams were drawn against each other in a second round Carling cup-tie, the scenes both inside and on the surrounding streets were never going to be pretty.

After Neil Harris had scored the opening goal it looked as if Millwall were going to cause a major boil over against its premier league neighbour, until Junior Stanislas scored a last gasp equaliser to send the West Ham faithful into raptures, resulting in a pitch invasion and a number of provocative taunts aimed at Millwall’s visiting fans. 

 It was then that the officials, and ground stewards new that they were powerless to stop the wild scenes that would rather ironically spill out to Green Street, the scene of past brawls between the two teams, which infamously resulted in a movie named Green street hooligans-which brings to light just how dangerous and volatile the two London clubs fans can be. West ham went on to win the game, but it is the bloodshed and brutality of the two teams fans in the aftermath that will see this game remembered for years to come. 

English native Tom Byron attended over 20 premier league matches whilst living in the North-East of England as a child, and he can recall some pretty horrific scenes during Derby day between Sunderland and neighbours Newcastle United- “I saw some very ugly incidents, one day my dad was hit from behind with a heavy object”, he said. “The Geordies (Newcastle fans) would always be looking for trouble outside the ground- I have seen a lot of things that as a 12 year old I should never have seen watching a football game”. 

 Having now lived in Australia for 15 years, and frequently attending Australian Rules football games, as well as a small number of A-League soccer games, Byron can confidently say that he feels much safer attending sports events in Australia- “you can’t even compare the two, over in England you see the crowds segregated, and a lot of hostility shown to away supporters who are very much in the minority at the ground… there is always a lot of tension between the opposition fans”, he said.

Byron opined that on a recent return to his homeland scenes at the stadium of light were “less physical” than in his younger days however the hostility was still present between opposing supporters. “They have banned the drinking of alcohol in the viewing areas, however many of the supporters drink loads before they go into the ground, and this is why the trouble often starts”, he says.

 The decision to ban the consumption of alcohol from the viewing areas in England has to be commended but, further action is required, and Byron says that thugs should be banned for life if caught causing trouble at games- “it’s time to get serious and stop it good and proper-the threat of a life ban would be a major deterrent”, he said

 Matt Cousland, a Melbourne victory member who has also experienced English Soccer after watching his idol (socceroo Tim Cahill) play for his club side Everton says he sensed a huge difference in the behaviour of the crowds- “ they are very passionate in England, they support their teams through thick and thin”, he said. “The only problem with that is that they often go looking for trouble before and after games when they have had a few pints”, he said.

 Cousland is confident that we will not have to encounter the hostility of the English crowds any time soon – “Us Victory fans are passionate, but we know where to draw the line, we don’t go looking for trouble. There have only been crowd troubles at one game against Sydney FC, and I thought it was rather minor”.

 Cousland enjoyed his English football experience, but was surprised at the malice in some of the chants from Everton supporters- “ They  were chanting about Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s wife being a whore, and they weren’t even playing against Liverpool, it’s a little over the top”, he said.

 After an old fashioned scrap on Green Street, reminiscent of the scenes from the infamous film ironically named Green street hooligans, soccer fans worldwide will be hopeful that the clash between West Ham and Millwall fans was a one off, and won’t once again become the norm at soccer matches around the world.

Green Street Hooligans: West Ham and Millwall fans brawl as Police try to contain the volatile crowd

Green Street Hooligans: West Ham and Millwall fans brawl as Police try to contain the volatile crowd


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