I bought my ticket for the Villa cup game yesterday. Along with the ticket I received a letter from the club reminding me of my responsibility to behave myself. In particular they reminded me about zero tolerance of pyrotechnics, the laws relating to alcohol consumption and stadium regulations about obscene chanting. The young man at the ticket office was rather apologetic as he handed me the letter, saying that he had to give it to everyone but he was sure I wouldn’t cause trouble. Old ladies benefit from stereotyping at football games. If rival gangs were looking for someone to fight, they would correctly assume that I’m not a likely candidate. And police and stewards assume I’m not a trouble maker; they sometimes make the opposite assumption about law-abiding young men.
Unfortunately there will be some trouble makers among the fans of both sides. A few are just idiots and others cloud their judgment by consuming too much alcohol. In the letter it said, “Alcohol related offences is (sic) unfortunately increasing at our away fixtures, particularly with supporters aged under 18.” Stopping people drinking too much is a lot more difficult than limiting the allocation of tickets.
I’ll be interested to see what happens at the Manchester United versus Liverpool game at 5.30 pm tomorrow, the first time since 2004 that this fixture has been staged this late. According to an article in the Guardian, they are trying to avoid trouble by communication with fans and by restricting alcohol consumption. Here are a couple of quotes:
“Many issues experienced by fans can be overcome by effective communication and in order to build upon good relations from previous seasons, the Football Supporters Federation, Spirit of Shankly, Liverpool FC Supporters Committee and Manchester United Supporters Trust [have already been met with] to talk through some aspects of the policing operation.
The visiting fans were also made aware that only two alcoholic drinks could be purchased inside Old Trafford …
You cannot drink alcohol on the street in Manchester city centre or Trafford – the borough where the ground is – and this will be enforced around the stadium for home and away fans. Since implementing this policy it has stopped groups of supporters congregating at certain locations which created a hostile atmosphere for visiting fans and families.”
These sound like sensible precautions to me; I hope they work. I also hope that there won’t be any major trouble at our League Cup fixture.