Gareth Roberts and Neil Atkinson are joined in TAW’s studio for a cup of tea and chat by Amanda Jacks, a caseworker for The Football Supporters’ Federation.
Amanda is the first port of call for supporters in trouble with the law, and so we ask is there still a problem with a wider perception of football fans in England and Wales? Why, for instance, are there different laws governing different sports when arrest figures suggest less of a problem than the media and the general public often suggests around football?
You can follow Amanda on Twitter at: @FSF_FairCop
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Great job by Amanda.
Regarding the perception of fans by police on the ground I want to tell a story.
I also feel, like Amanda, that Merseyside Police are generally ok in their attitude. Chester Wrexham was mentioned and I’ve been to a fair few of them before the bubble matches and I can guarantee both of those police forces are very small minded. Just on that, if I had a 90 year old grandad who lived opposite Wrexham’s ground but supported Chester then there’s no way on this earth he could get in the Chester end unless he travelled to Chester’s ground to board a coach. After the game he would have to be dropped back off at Chester’s ground only to make his way back to his home opposite the Wrexham ground he came out of earlier. Now, I can understand that to an extent for groups of Stone Island clad young lads but a 90 year old? It’s ridiculous.
Before I get to my story I want to say that Chester races is a notoriously terrible event. Brilliant but dangerous if you’re a reveller. Yet, a total of 162 officers and 38 police vehicles were deployed by Cheshire Constabulary for the October derby in Chester, which was attended by 3,714 fans. In contrast, 166 officers and 29 vehicles were used across three days to police last year’s May Day Festival at Chester Racecourse, an event attended by more than 54,000 people in total from Wednesday to Friday. It says it all.
Anyway, I think this sums up a lot of what was said.
I came out of a side street opposite the Kop with a mate. I got to the road and momentarily stopped on the curb waiting to cross as there were streams of people. A lad in that stream said ‘tickets’ and I shook my head in a dismissive manner. Next minute a police man said ‘you’re under arrest for touting’. So, I went with him to a wall he made me stand with my back to (the lad I was with too). He searched me and found about £20 and a season ticket which is mine to all extents and purposes but not in my name. That’s all. At that point it was clear I wasn’t a tout when backed up with the story I told him that all I did was shook my head when a tout asked me if I wanted a ticket.
Instead of just calling it a day and letting me go the policeman then said, I’m confiscating the season ticket because you’re not allowed a ticket in another name to which I said, I’m sorry but that’s not true. Article 3.2 of the terms and conditions states that in the circumstances i.e friends I’m allowed it. So, he said give me your name so I can radio it through. When I told him he said ‘ok, your coming with me to the van because you’re under arrest for (something along the lines of) giving a false name to the police’. At this point a colleague of his arrived on the scene and firstly, immediately cleared up the season ticket issue not far off saying ‘don’t be ridiculous’ to his colleague. He then said, what’s your real name. So, they radioed through and it came back known but not wanted. The first policeman was visibly gutted by the result from the radio. The second was ok about it all.
So, to sum up I was arrested twice in 5 minutes and had my season ticket confiscated all for the crime of a dismissive shake of the head. What other walk of life would that have happened in. I’m a middle age man going to the match. There’s no way on earth the policeman entered that scene with an open mind. As I walked away I passed the second policeman and he was standing there with another colleague pointing at me and laughing heartedly saying ‘Guess what his name is’. We had a laugh about it though.
Just for balance, I had an encounter with a Met policeman at a Liverpool game after I hadn’t really done much wrong to the extent I was kicked out and sent on my way after having my name taken but whereas the stewards wanted me crucified the police were really sound and we had a laugh. There was a big cheer and he said Liverpool have scored again to which I said no, that’s a home goal. So, he took me back into the ground and showed me the goal on a tv monitor which was sound. Funnily enough he also took the piss out of me but in a way we were both laughing about. I had to show him my tattoo because again he thought I was lying. He refused to believe I was as old as I said, haha. Thought I was giving someone elses details. He sent me on my way with a few compliments. Joking aside, it was a nice moment to be treated as decent person whilst being a football fan when all I’d done was buy a ticket in the section next to the Liverpool end.
One last story, haha. The local garage fixed my car last year and I expected to pay about £100. They said, don’t worry about it, just drop some biscuits off next time you pass. I went direct to the shop and bought about 20 packs for them. It’s common courtesy. I can’t believe guests on TAW don’t even get 1 biscuit. Shameful.
A good listen that gents.
I agreed with your article beforehand Gareth and I agree even more so afterwards.