Ugly scenes reflect badly on Bradford City supporters

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By Mahesh Johal

Roberto Martinez made a poignant point about Wigan’s supporters after his team’s eventful FA Cup Semi Final win over Millwall. Criticised for the number of unsold tickets for the Wembley occasion, Martinez argued that Wigan should be remembered for the quality of their fans rather than their quantity.

When compared to Millwall followers, Martinez’s view holds weight. Bradford City’s own trip to the national stadium saw the club praised for their wonderful support. In the last minutes of our game at Wembley, we waved our club colours and flags with pride. In the last minutes of theirs, Millwall fought with each other and the police.

Bradford City have a fan base which is both heavy in quality and quantity. Saturday’s trip to Chesterfield proved this. The atmosphere generated from the near three thousand at the Proact Stadium was the best I have been to this season in the league. There was a strong sense of belief in the North Stand that a victory over the Spireites could set up the most unimaginable automation promotion. There was a definite bite in the air on Saturday. Maybe it was the anticipation of the outcome which gave the day its edge.

But as the game progressed, this edge and bite started to descende into an uncomfortable sensation which I rarely feel at Bradford matches. The release of smoke flares did not help the situation amongst some City fans. It’s easy to understand why many were disappointed by their release. I don’t think whoever set them off intentionally meant to upset people. I think it was a person caught up in the moment and frankly did not understand the pain it could cause.

Flares have become more regular in English football stadia. However our circumstances are different to any other club in the country. For that reason, one would hope that we don’t see them return in games that City play in.

The confidence that City fans had at the start of the day soon turned to arrogance. Standing in the walkways, a set of fans towards the bottom of the North Stand seemed to get along with the stewards monitoring them. These stewards realised that City fans were in Chesterfield for a good time and, from my position, things appeared fine. However, as the game progressed, the shift in atmosphere was epitomises by the chant “We’ll do what we want”. I have never been a fan of the chant and Saturday’s tone and rendition made me dislike it even more.

It seemed that Ricky Ravenhill goal opened an underlying tension which threated to spill over, as fans entered the field of play. From what I could see and have since read from social media sites, the ejection of a young fan from the stadium was an instigator. I saw a young teenager being walked off the pitch by a steward, whilst several City fans ran to pull the youngster back. I’m not sure if this was the sole reason for the unsavoury scenes at the full time whistle, but it seemed to be a contributing factor.

Some have also said a steward’s over-zealous celebration of Chesterfield’s late equaliser further incensed fans. Maybe it was the emotion and the pressure of the game, or other factors I don’t know about, which got the better of individuals.

Either way, there is nothing that can justify the disgraceful scenes after the final whistle, where fans and stewards battled each other and punches were thrown. Violence, hooliganism, or whatever you want to call it, is for some reason interconnected with football. Whilst wrong, it does not surprise me seeing it at football matches. But it was the pure hostility of ‘fans’ kicking or thumping advertising boards and worse, individuals spitting and chucking objects at the stewards which really shocked me.

Towards the end of the game, some tried to surround a Chesterfield player who was getting a ball near the advertising boards. I have never seen this kind of vileness before in a City end. It left a very bitter taste in my mouth after the game. We are a proud club, and the actions of a small minority is damaging the fine reputation which has been built. It should be emphasised that this is a minority, but even so, their actions cannot be tolerated.

We as fans expect our players to represent our club in the best way that they can. However, our club also expect us, the fans, to represent it in the best way we can! The actions of a small few did hold their side of the bargain on Saturday.

Categories: Opinion

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14 replies

  1. Totally agree with the comments expressed in this article. Thankfully I was seated with the City fans in the main stand, and not in the melee behind the goal. It was not pleasant viewing. Jon

    • Cam somebody please fill me in on this issue.
      Who is buying away tkts ? Are they season tkt holders? Can anybody go to the kiosk and purchase a tkt for an away game?
      Do these people go to home games?
      Im not in the know tbh and feel that anybody buying an away tkt should at least show I.D and also if season tkt holders show there season tkt I.d.
      I could be way off the mark here

      • Interesting point Wayne. I’m a season ticket holder and recent rang up the ticket office to get them to post two tickets to the Cheltenham game to my home address. Where do I live?? – Cheltenham!!!

        I was expecting to have to give my membership number or something but the transaction went through without comment. I think its important for right minded supporters to sensor these idiots. If we don’t make a stand football will slide back to the bad old days in the early 80’s – and nobody wants that.

        Personally speaking if any of these individuals kick off at Cheltenham I’ll be using my phone to photograph and video them in action. I have to live and work in Cheltenham with Cheltenham Town supporters. They are a great example of a community club who consistently punch above their weight. They deserve great respect and I hope we show it them.

        On a lighter note if any of the WOAP contributers or readers fancy a pint before the match with me get in touch. I can suggest a good watering hole.

  2. Exellent comment. Now what we need is those fans who were actually involved with the stewards, to come forward and give a honest account of what happened. I think there is more to this than meets the eye. I was present at the game and saw everything. I was stood 12 rows back behind the goals and the stewards in front of me were provoking us fans too. I’m not a lip reader,but there was one stocky guy with short black hair, swearing at the young supporters at the front. I’m sure you have all heard by now that these stewards were cheaply hired by the club. They were all nightclub bouncers and everyone could see they were up for it. Since when have stewards been trained and advised to throw punches at soccer fans. They should have stepped back a couple of yards and let the city fans shout and scream at them. Both groups were to blame for this isolated incident, ( which could have in my opinion have started a full scle riot. The question is, why did that City fan throw the first punch? Why did 8 stewards start throwing punches at the fans?

  3. As an ex milatry guy whos a big city fan. I knew from the start it was going to kick of. Who put’s ex squaddies as strewards at a games. The strewards or security firm. were looking for a fright to prove them self. Having done this sort of roll you allways looking for the violence instead of claming the situation. The Fan’s 98% of the time are to blame but this time i believe it was the strewards!!!!

  4. Alex, the stewards were remarkably restrained considering the amount of goading they received from some of our so called supporters. I didnt even recognise some of the trouble makers so Im not sure where they came from. On things for certain, the stewards were not to blame for what happened on Saturday, our moronic trouble causing element were. I was sat 6 or 7 rows back and had a birds eye view. The bloke in the black leather jacket with the baseball cap on should be banned for life. The thing is some of these blokes were in their fourties and fifties. Utterly shameful and it needs nipping in the bud.

    • Got to agree with ya about the guy in black. Yeh he threw the first punch but my argument is about the stewards throwing punches instead of stepping back. We just need to know why the goading and what caused the man in black to do that? I’m sure these so called City fans just came to fight with the stewards.

      • Sorry, correction. I’m sure these so called city fans DIDN’T just come to fight the stewards.

  5. I was about 12 rows back and also had a birds eye view. There were 4-5 heavily built middle aged guys giving real stick to the stewards, who were being pretty restrained in face of continued provocation – the yobs just kept agitating for a barny. After the moronic earlier “pitch invasion” I sensed the stewards were instructed to stand quite close to the boards to prevent any repeat of the invasion (even I quite felt like letting the odious toad of a referee have the benefit of my thoughts on his performance for example – of course I would never run on the field to do so). One of the stewards involved was a more elderly gentleman with a clipboard and a cap who tried to calm things – no way was he a “bouncer”. So this was entirely instigated by the so-called City fans and made me deeply sickened as did the “we do what we want ” chant. I go to a lot of away games and there was definitely a different, less desirable, and more menacing element about. There was for example a small group of younger guys behind us who stood up all game and refused any suggestion to sit, and were openly smoking all game – sure, not the worst of all crimes but it showed a certain “attitude”.

    I’d rather stay in div 2, if watching “my” team in higher leagues meant we attracted any more of these odious people as so-called “supporters”. Guy with dreadlocks and ones with leather jackets and caps will hopefully be easily identifiable on cctv, sought out and banned. I left quite down, not because we only drew a thrilling match in which our boys on the pitch again gave their all, but because of the actions of a mindless few, supposedly in my name.

    • I’ve had issues with people smoking on away days! .
      Knowing the history of our club the last supporters I thought you would see smoking are Bradford cty supporters’.
      It’s been a very bad weekend in general for violent scenes at football! .
      I sincerely hope anybody thinking of taking there family to away games thinks twice

  6. I normally sit in the main stand, where 99% of supporters are well behaved.
    During City’s cup run I sat in the Kop, where there were sections of ill disciplined supporters who were there predominantly to cause upset and havoc to those around them.
    So, these elements of so called supporters DO exist within our fan base.
    It’s up to the authorities to identify and deal with them accordingly!
    The technology is in place to do it, if the so called Security Company has the mind to follow it through. My belief is that they are there for the easiest ride they can get to achieve their financial reward, so extra duties in these unwanted fans goes beyond there will. Anything for a quiet life and an easy pay packet!

    • A strange atmosphere at Chesterfield, including a girl trying to jump off a bridge on the way home. I just hope the atmosphere at tonight game at Rotherham doesn’t get out of hand. Remember last season on the pitch? I’d be surprised, but the threat of points deductions could be used to deter any potential trouble.

  7. Thanks Mahesh. The in seemly behaviour by an idiotic set of so-called City fans will reflect badly on the club and the other 99% of travelling fans who visit away grounds to support our team and not looking for a ruck with the opposition. I trust that our club deals with these morons in the right way and ban them from entering VP and away grounds. As a club, we need to do everything possible to restore our image within the football community and not let it be hijacked by these latter day hooligans. Equally, the club should encourage Chesterfield to review its own policy on stewarding. From my experience, most Chesterfield stewards were helpful and polite but unfortunately, from our vantage point, there seemed to be a small group towards the left handside who had different intentions. Was it just bad luck that that was where our own hooligans migrated to at full-time or something else? In any event this small group of stewards let down Chesterfield just as our yobs did to us.

    I am disappointed that the club has yet to say anything publicly about the brawl. I would have preferred a statement from the club apologising for the behaviour and expressing to all that they would identify and ban the yobs. Unfortunately the club’s silence on this has been deafening.

  8. It looked from where I was just a load of kids who was shouting at the stewards. As mentioned previously I never recognised any either but im sure the person with the dreds will be easily identifiable

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