Is derby day so bad that the biggest local paper in Manchester has to produce piece that highlights a very minor part of what is after all, a local derby. These happen up and down the country most weeks of a football season and yes, some are bigger than others but lets not forget that the headlines that fill the back pages of the national papers come Monday morning will all be about the final score or controversy thats happened on the pitch rather than any incidents of ‘hooliganism’ that still plights the British game years after the horrific days of the 70s and 80s.
The MEN should hang its head in shame for an article published Thursday titled ‘Derby day police on alert as United hooligans’ football banning orders expire’. I say this as a proud Mancuinan; someone that loves every inch of the city I was born and raised to adore. It really is a sad state of affairs that a paper that is distributed in many of Greater Manchester towns, as well as the city itself has to build up to such an occasion that historically splits Manc’s red or blue, by showing the worse that can happen without giving any balance to the article by mentioning that a minority of city fans also will have banning orders and could in fairness cause problems for the poilice and stewards also.
I want to question how do they know how many of these “hooligans” will be at Sunday’s match or how they got their banning orders in the first place? Not to condone the actions of those inderviduals that were given them in the first place. Football to this present day has cleared its name of the hooligan culture of bygone years to an extent but to try and highlight a very minority – in this case – “half-a-dozen” fans that may cause trouble just to fill pages in a paper that should be creating a buzz about United and their noisey neighbours meeting for the first time this season, it just seems out of context to me and also brings fears that it may happen or disrupt the occasion for anyone that will be at the Eithad this weekend.
Also they undermine the set’s of supporters from both clubs that meet with the police prior to ever derby match to try and make sure the game passes off peacefully. This is something that is completely overlooked and under investigated in what would prevent such articles like this, giving both United and City fans a bad name especially when many live side my side, on the same streets and drink in the same pubs together without any problems apart from friendly banter.
In the weeks running up to any derby match supporters from both clubs are invited to a meeting with Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City Council and some officials from either/both clubs.
For United these meeting are attended by members of MUST. Dale Haslam a MUST Committee Member and founder of Reds Away is normally in attendance and works hard to bring meetings like this to existance, for not only the derby games but for a good majoirty of the clubs that United travel away to during a season. Through these meeting he has been able to increase United’s allocation at some grounds and also worked with other supporters trust’s and clubs to help come to terms with issues that have affected either the policing/stewarding of games when united travel or minor issues that help the safety of United fans and also beneifts them when an opposing club raises the allocation that united recieve the following season.
As a rule United fans as a majority are well behaved when traveling away. We all know its a derby match and everyone gets passionate but to bring up trouble makers that might not attend or cause any trouble really paints the wrong image on United fans and football fans in general. The MEN should be proud to produce articles shouting from the rooftops about the history and greatness of the football clubs that come out of Manchester, no belittle us.