SEVILLE, SPAIN - Tuesday, November 21, 2017: An exterior view of the stadium before the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Sevilla FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIVERPOOL 0-3 ahead on 30 minutes. Fabulous. Up the Reds.

I have seen none of the goals.

I see the replay of the third in a Seville bar where they make me welcome. Drinks across the bar. A seat made available on a table. Nice people. This is important. Nice people.

The first goal I heard. I heard when outside the ground queuing to get in. We were there from about 8.25pm; me, Craig Hannan and Gareth Roberts. The match kicking off in 20 minutes but the queue massive and not moving forward. It moved sideways. The Liverpool supporters moved sideways to let police horses in.

Finally it moved, a sudden flood. Then it stopped and the Liverpool supporters self policed. Demanded pushing stop. It did. Immediately. Then we waited and waited patiently. The Champions League music started and still we queued and while agitated people were broadly patient. The game kicks off and we hear the first Liverpool goal.

There began to be movement, Liverpool 0-1, to other gates and through our gate. I pass the first police officer and then pass the first steward. The second steward asks to look in my bag and I oblige. Within it are a lot of wires. That picture is below.


I understand this is no barrel of laughs. The steward has no table to open my bag and go through it, he just has a quick look. He has a crowd trying to get in. He is under pressure is my point. I understand this both then and now. He wants to take my bag off me. I ask how and when and where I will get it back. He isn’t the only one under pressure — our flight takes off at 1.30am. Allowing for being kept in and getting a cab everything is already tight. I’m trying to explain this as my bag is taken off me. I see Craig’s bag is in a similar boat and I ask again.

They find me a more senior steward. This steward then finds another and she says it might take up to two hours to get mine and Craig’s bag back and they will be in gate 11. Both bags are matched away and I am without a ticket. They say they will put both our bags on the same ticket. This is unacceptable, a recipe for later chaos. I have no faith in any process here. In a snap decision I say I will not go in and keep both bags, she disappears to get them.

I see Craig and for the first time in the day I see John Gibbons. John looks a bit distressed as he shouts towards me. After the fact, I find out someone he knows has ended up being very badly treated. At the time I shout to him I am fine but the bags need sorting. He disappears up the steps. The game is well underway.

Only one bag is produced for me. Mine. This is completely counter productive. I want to make sure me, Gareth and Craig can make our plane and so I want Craig’s bag. I am trying to explain that but the stewards have had enough and start trying to force me out. Then they get the police involved. I think my body language was completely non threatening. But I’m 6ft1in and dressed wearing a bright red tracksuit top.

When being aggressively removed by one ridiculously over-zealous police officer in particular I tell him to relax. I have no Spanish but he does the opposite until it is clear his colleague does likewise. I’m going, I say. I’m going. His colleague agrees, asserts. The aggression diminishes.

Others weren’t as lucky with their police officers it seems. Everyone wants to talk fast. Anna Burgess has been stopped from entering because of her flag which she thought had been prior approved and then she has been forcibly stopped from going in.

Sam Armstrong is there and Sam is marvellousness personified but in hindsight, and if I were a proper journalist, I should have grabbed them both — and more — there and then, but we were all safe, outside the perimeter and I decided I wanted to document what happened to me quickly, neutrally, while I remember the order of events clearly and communicate to Craig et al I am not in the stadium. Those who had also been refused entry wanted to go back into the city. That option is not open to me. I have to wait to get the flight.

I am, among all this, shown a video of a supporter being ridiculously wrestled to the ground by a policeman. An act of aggression which looks outrageous.

The thing is that I’m fine. I’m in a warm bar as I type. I’m not upset as the above should confirm. All has been written before the second half has begun, has been written in that gap between the third and the second half kicking off.

My point is this — bad decisions have been made under needlessly really bad circumstances by people inadequately supported. A mentality was wrong first and foremost. Police visors were down and, it appears, from the video I saw, a man was assaulted. I was manhandled when there was no need. I saw no Liverpool stewards anywhere.

It was an absolute mess and questions should be asked and answered. My hopes are not up. Reflection is not something which authorities are good at without being made to be and I hold out no hope this will happen here. Liverpool Football Club need to support their supporters as a bare minimum.

More will come out. I’ve written down my experience here. Others will be far worse, I am certain of that.

Click play above to listen to the latest in our FREE series of podcasts about policing and stewarding in football.

It’s also a shame. A massive shame. Seville is marvellous, you know. It’s picturesque without being twee. It’s a terrific place, gorgeous and reasonably priced and alive. It isn’t Disneyland. I’d recommend it to anyone. Unless you are going the game.

The game. I see Sevilla’s comeback on television. They throw themselves at the second half. They scrap and battle and pull themselves into the game. The Liverpool manager makes changes to protect his footballers and good on him for that but finally the pressure breaks.

Liverpool concede late. Painful. Frustrating. This thing of ours — I shouldn’t be thinking of that but obviously I am. I am. Let’s make sure we go through top now. Win the final game.

Get home safely everyone. It goes from here.

Much love as per. Much care. Because if we don’t care who will?

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Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo

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