The Fishy - Grimsby Town FC

Question of the Week

Should the League 2 season be suspended?


Shame on You!
Shame on You!

Humberside Police

By: Hull Fan
Date: 19/02/2009

AS a supporter of Hull City I have, along with thousands of other football fans over the years, had to put up with Humberside Police interfering in the running of my football club.

I didn't know you had a similar problem across at Grimsby. Our local newspaper never prints anything about Grimsby Town and I suppose your paper equally ignores Hull City?

We have had kick off times altered, restrictions on the size of the crowd, friendly games made all-ticket, massive segregation, away fans turned away at the Humber Bridge and so on for years now. The problem was worse when we were in the lower leagues because the club depended on gate money in those days and it seemed every time we had the chance of drawing a decent crowd the police stepped in and imposed some restriction on it. Even a simple thing like issuing a press release to the local newspaper before a game claiming that the police had "intelligence" about possible crowd trouble could effect the size of the crowd because people simply stayed away. Of course it never came true. They made a pre-season friendly with Bradford City all ticket once on police "intelligence" and the police outnumbered the 34 away fans about ten to one. And this has gone on for years.

Yet there is a strange game over here called rugby league. We have two clubs who play in a closed shop of a division where no-one can get relegated and the team that finishes top of the league doesn't win it, but the team that finishes 12th can! As you can imagine with two clubs in the same city tempers can boil over at times. At rugby it does yet the police do not treat it the same as football. Why? Because rugby league clubs refuse to foot the bill for policing games. So any trouble is played down as "high spirits or isolated" - this includes pitch invasions, fighting on the terraces inside an all seater stadium and brawling in the streets. When other forces are involved, for example trouble at away games, the stock excuse is "they are not rugby league fans they are Hull City supporters" The blame is shifted to football, because football foots the bill.

Since our move to the KC stadium, I believe policing has become easier. Also crowd trouble is a bit old hat now because of a variety of things: different crowds watching the game, all seater stadiums, CCTV, banning orders and so on and the need for the police inside stadiums isn't always necessary. We have armies of stewards, proper segregation and most games are sell outs anyhow, yet the Humberside police still try to have a say.

I have always believed that the police like a bit of crowd trouble to justify there presence at matches. Recently we played Millwall and the police beforehand issued the usual press release saying all leave was cancelled and they knew 500 known hooligans were to travel to Hull. Millwall actually brought 3000 fans in a crowd of 18,000. So the police do not have a presence inside the ground until trouble kicks off, then everyone piles in, riot cops, police on horse back and so on. They let the visitors sit as close to the home fans as humanly possible when they had enough room to seat them all behind the goal with ten/twenty rows of empty seats at both sides, cordoned off. But no, if they did that the chance of something kicking off would be minimal.

We played WBA the following week and like virtually every week there was not a hint of trouble which is the same as when we travel away. Yet we have to have an army of police present. It's the only time most the Humberside's Forces kit gets used on a football day, that's dogs, horses, riot cops hand held video cameras mobile cell blocks etc, if it wasn't for football all this stuff would be redundant.

I'm not so green to think trouble at football has completely disappeared but I travel all over the country watching City and every where I go it seems the police is better than in Hull. Perhaps we have been a small club for so long they have no experience of handling big occasions? How many other forces have asked for a local derby to be played behind closed doors for example? Does this happen in Manchester or Liverpool? How do they cope in London?

So I'm pleased to hear your club objected to this, it is after all a restriction of trade, I only wish my club had stood up against them all the time we were skint in divisions 2/3/and 4. I'm not anti police either, I just think we have one or two policemen in senior positions in our force that are clearly not up to it. Also it does seem that policing football matches isn't a duty anymore its a good pay day for all concerned, except those footing the bill, and we all know who they are.

Grim Rob Says An excellent article and I couldn't agree with the sentiments more. How many times have we seen more police outside Blundell Park than there are away fans? A few families and small groups of friends quietly shuffling home around past the mounted police and mobile camera units. Trouble inside the ground and outside the stadium is as rare as a promotion season! At a lot of the clubs in League Two you barely see a police office in the ground. Why can't it be the same for us?

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