Pitch in­va­sions, racist abuse and ri­ots at West Ham

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL - By LAURA WIL­LIAMSON

“I KNOW I’m not a mon­key. I might be as strong as a go­rilla but I’m not a mon­key. That’s life, isn’t it?”

Those were the words of West Ham and Eng­land striker Carl­ton Cole af­ter he ad­mit­ted he suf­fered racist abuse in his home ground, Up­ton Park this week.

“Yeah, I heard it,” he said, “but it’s foot­ball, you know. I don’t care.

“You’ve just got to carry on and get on with it and we got the re­sult – that was the main point.”

Mill­wall may have been dumped out of the Car­ling Cup, los­ing 3-1 af­ter ex­tra time, but foot­ball was the loser on a night of shame.

Cole de­scribed be­ing tar­geted by fans – with West Ham sup­port­ers also al­legedly taunt­ing Mill­wall sub­sti­tute Ja­son Price with mon­key chants – as “part and par­cel of foot­ball”.

“It’s about men­tal tough­ness. You just have to carry on with your game and usu­ally you come out good,” he said.

Against this shock­ing back­drop, it is no won­der peo­ple near Up­ton Park were strug­gling to come to terms with what hap­pened in­side and around the sta­dium this week.

But they weren’t talk­ing about Cole’s or­deal, or how on earth 20-year-old Jack Col­li­son took to the pitch two days af­ter los­ing his fa­ther in a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent, or if Calum Daven­port will ever play again af­ter be­ing stabbed on Satur­day morn­ing.

They didn’t even men­tion the three pitch in­va­sions by Ham­mers fans that caused Mill­wall play­ers to tem­po­rar­ily leave the pitch, fear­ing for their safety.

They were talk­ing about the vi­o­lence that spilled out on to their streets.

Words like ‘an­i­mals’ and ‘scum’ were two-a-penny. It was a throw- back to the days of hooli­gans, when foot­ball was a dirty word.

Min­is­ter for Sport Gerry Sut­clif fe de­scribed the scenes as “a dis­grace to foot­ball”.

He said: “We have made great progress in tackling hooli­gan­ism and we will not tol­er­ate any re­turn to the dark days when it plagued the game. We will never be com­pla­cent in the fight against vi­o­lence.”

West Ham were in­un­dated with fans com­ing for­ward with in­for­ma­tion to help catch the cul­prits. Thomas Pa­trick, 51, was next to the Tube sta­tion, when thugs started run­ning through at 5.30pm.

“We used to have a lot of trou­ble, but I’ve never seen any­thing as bad as last night,” he said.

Ron Bol­well, 71, runs The Queens pub next door. The po­lice asked him to stop serv­ing at 6.30pm, so he locked the doors at 7pm and viewed the car­nage from the roof.

“It was may­hem,” he said. “You could see it was all West Ham fans be­cause a lot just came here looking for a ruck. They were like an­i­mals. You couldn’t see the road – just peo- ple, bay­ing for the po­lice and throw­ing bot­tles and bricks at them. It would have been mur­der if West Ham had lost.”

Ger­maine New­ton, a nurse, de­scribed it as the “most fright­en­ing evening” of her life af­ter she was called to give a pa­tient in­sulin at 8pm.

“Po­lice were run­ning from one place to the other, peo­ple (were) fight­ing and crowds not giv­ing way to cars. (It) was hell,” she said.

A nearby pub boarded up their win­dows in ex­pec­ta­tion of what was to come. This hasn’t been done for four years – since the last West Ham-Mill­wall game in April 2005.

Ini­tially there were 500 po­lice in and around the ground, but an­other 250 of­fi­cers were drafted in.

The fight­ing con­tin­ued un­til af­ter 11pm and the po­lice ar­rested 13 peo­ple. Hope­fully, more will be caught af­ter CCTV footage has been re­viewed.

The cul­prits are those who trav­elled in­tent on caus­ing trou­ble. The ones in­tent on guer­rilla war­fare, if you will. – Daily Mail

BELLY AW­FUL: Frank Nou­ble of West Ham United tries to stop a plump hooli­gan at Up­ton Park this week.

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