The last thing any football fan wants to do is miss a game. Especially a local away game at the “business end” of the season. Firstly because we feel the need to get behind our team, to be the “12th man” that managers so often refer to. To give our boys a bit of vocal support when they would otherwise be desperately outnumbered. Secondly, because you never know when it might be “that game”. That game you missed because your brother got married and they won 5-0. That game you missed while having your appendix out and they beat Man United in the cup. This sense of loyalty and desire to follow your team regardless of time, distance and expense is the reason why football fans can be treated as second class citizens by the police or the television companies and they are allowed to get away with it time and time again. It’s bad enough that football clubs themselves are making a solid attempt to price “working class” fans out of the game.
English football has moved on since the 1980’s. Everyone seems to know and acknowledge this except the police. To never be complacent about the threat of football violence is a sensible stance. That’s why we still have police presence (in the background), fan segregation and CCTV in football stadiums. That is accepted by fans who understand the reasons. Unfortunately, this often gives way to complete over-reaction. This may or may not be true but it seems to me that West Yorkshire police and Humberside police are two of the worst offenders. How often do the Met police insist that West Ham vs. Chelsea is made to kick-off at lunchtime when there are twice as many supporters as at Hull City vs. Leeds United? In fact, Millwall vs. West Ham aside, how many London derbies are heavily restricted? Not many. And why? Because there is no recent history of trouble.
Football fans, by and large, are well behaved. There are always exceptions to the rule as there are any time 10,000+ people get together for any reason. The disorder at football matches pales in comparison to that at public demonstrations in the past few years and yet we are far more restricted and we pay for the pleasure. How can it be that the hundreds of thousands of football fans who travel up and down the country on a weekly basis can be criminalised without any cause or reason and it can be publicly acceptable? Acceptable to the point that thousands of fans, plenty without so much as a parking ticket on their record, can be told where they can watch a football match, how they can do it and how they must travel?
The sad thing is that unless our club takes a stance on our behalf, then we’ll accept it. 1,500 Hull City fans will be shepparded to Huddersfield, watched like hawks for 90 minutes and shipped off home again. The West Yorkshire police will then pat themselves on the back and ensure this becomes normal practice. And so we’ll huff and puff next time but we’ll accept it again. And again. And again. Because we can’t do anything about our desire to support our team or the attitude of the dinosaurs who run the police in Yorkshire.
I’d like to think the police will see the public reaction and do something about this most recent ludicrous ruling that all Hull City fans should be escorted to Huddersfield like cattle before the club are forced to take a stand. If this doesn’t happen, and I would be very, very surprised if there’s anyone in west Yorkshire police forethinking enough to make it happen, then I urge Hull City to reject the ticket allocation, to cost Huddersfield Town a significant amount of money and to stand up for the fans. The vast majority of whom are honest, hard working, second class citizens.