Monday, February 2, 2009

In Defence of Football Hooligans

Newcastle Utd. and Sunderland met at St. James' Park yesterday. There were 52084 in the ground*, all of whom spilled out onto the cold streets of Newcastle after the game. The police made 20 arrests and the news this morning was full of the usual hand-wringing and hyperbole.
The reports neglected to say that 52064 people were NOT arrested (99.96%). So, out of every thousand at the match, 999 remained out of police custody. I am not so naive as to think that "stayed out of police custody" is the same as "stayed out of trouble" but, nevertheless, it is quite clear that a VERY small percentage created the bother.
Newcastle and Sunderland is somewhere between Bolton v Blackburn and Israel v Gaza in terms of violence. Not quite Celtic v Rangers but getting close. There isn't the religious intensity in the North-East derbies, just tribal, localised passion. Let's not lose that.
I'm the last person who wants to see "hooliganism" back, but come on.
Stop creating a problem that isn't there!

*Thanks to GC for the accurate figures.


GC said...

The attendance was 52,084 (TimesOnline). It's a 52,000 seater stadium. It's not Boro, where everyone needs a spare seat to put their Parmo on!

I loved your comment that ''999'' stayed out of police custody though! Although I think I have just ruined that pun.

GC said...
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