|Portsmouth 0 v 4 Southampton|
Tuesday, 24th September 2019 Kick-off 19:45
A Stroll In The Park
Wednesday, 25th Sep 2019 15:21
It was an easy ride for both Saints and their supporters as they travelled to Fratton Park for the game against Portsmouth. But hear what happened from the horses mouth (No not that horse)
Hampshire Constabulary were reported to be pleased with their operation to prevent trouble this morning after the game between Saints & Pompey passed with no major disorder in the main, just hurled abuse and the odd coin, although a Police horse punched by a Pompey fan might tell a different story, but more of that later.
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton said:
“Sadly we had to prepare for the potential that a minority would try and ruin it for everyone else and this required us, in conjunction with both clubs and our partners, to put plans in place to ensure we were ready to stop that.
“As expected, due to the nature of the routes to and from Fratton Park, there were times were groups of opposing fans came into close proximity to one another.
“However, as a result of our careful planning, we were able to keep these groups apart and get them to and from the stadium safely.
“I think the fact that we have had no reports of anyone being injured and only a few people arrested is a testament to the hard work that everyone has put into this operation.
“I would like to thank the fans for supporting our officers throughout the day and for those who helped us during the planning process.
“Today everyone is talking about what happened on the pitch, not off it, which is exactly what we wanted.”
The Police operation did not go off completely to plan, but the ACC is right actual physical violence was kept to an absolute minimum.
As expected the coaches were not the primary area of concern for the Police, the real issue would be centred on Goldsmith Avenue between Fratton Station and the ground itself, as this is the main route for those walking to the ground from the City Centre itself.
Those who went on the earlier train at 5pm had the worst of the trouble, but even they had an easy time of it and where able to walk from the station to the ground fairly easily with a police presence, although there were a considerable amount of Pompey fans looking to oppose them, they did little other than hurl the odd missile and abuse.
Sadly at this stage came the incident which sees a Pompey fan now in custody for animal cruelty, most will have seen this on the internet where said fan whilst being herded back by a mounted officer throws a punch at the horse and is then chased by the disgruntled animal and captured by officers on foot.
Those fans on the 6.10 train from Southampton were soon seeing footage of this and the general state of things on Goldsmith Avenue via social media knowing that they would be arriving on the same spot at around 6.45pm.
But then fate lent a hand with the train delayed for an hour due to signalling problems, the cynics would say this was another Police tactic, but the truth was there was an issue on the track and the Saints train was backed up in a queue to go into Fratton.
This was not helped by someone hitting an emergency door opening button which mean that the train power cut out and there was a delay whilst the door was reset and the train rebooted of around 10-15 minutes.
That meant that those Saints fans arrived at Fratton Station just as the game was kicking off, there were plenty of police but no welcoming committee.
That mean that the police escort moved at a decent pace and all that was aimed at the Saints supporters was the odd bit of abuse from passers by and bizarrely the sight of a girl stood on a wall waving a big Saints flag and cheering the supporters past.
At the ground it had the potential to kick off with a security check ahead of 500 Saints supporters trying to get through around 3 turnstiles at each end, the Pompey stewards were not friendly and tried to shut the turnstiles, but were stopped by the sheer weight of numbers and the police telling them not to be so stupid.
This meant that those at the front got in just in time to see Danny Ings open the scoring,but most missed it and had to celebrate in the street outside the ground.
The Saints support during the game were superb, the Fratton Faithful were muted after the first goal and seemed more interested in throwing abuse at Saints players and fans than supporting their own team, in essence their own hatred hampered their own teams cause.
On the third goal their was a big walk out and that became a flood as the minutes ticket by when Nathan Redmond scored the fourth, most Pompey fans had seen enough.
Then came the bizarre bit John PFC Westwood and his little crew seemed determined to stay and almost celebrate their own defeat, they seemed to want to get something out of the debacle they were watching of their own team and sing to the end, the Pompey team almost got a standing ovation for being woeful at the end, a section of the Pompey support just could not seem to want to accept that the gulf between the two clubs is widening and that since both clubs joined the League in the early 1920's there has never been a derby game played where the gulf is as wide as it stood last night in terms of league position.
Saints fans didn't care, they celebrated with their team and then it's manager.
But Pompey are the gift that just keeps giving, Westwood and his mob seemed determined to stay in the ground as long as possible, possibly because they thought that the Police would want the ground completely clear before they would allow Saints fans out and this was a tactic to delay that.
Then a Pompey supporter strolled on the pitch and at first most assumed he was part of the ground staff including the stewards who had allowed him on to the pitch, he then started to make a few abusive gestures till people started to realise he was some random idiot, the stewards then tried to apprehend him and a Benny Hill style chase occurred before he was nabbed.
After 20 minutes in the ground came 20 minutes outside before we started to move, there was no army of Pompey fans waiting as we made our way surrounded by Policemen from not only Hampshire but Kent, Berkshire, London and even as far as Norfolk, there could have been more.
No opposition just a few random kids throwing nsults knowing they would get nowhere near a Saints fan, walking past the Rifles club proved comedy gold, plenty of gurning hate filled faces banging on the windows and hurling abuse provoked only laughter from the away supporters.
On getting to Fratton Station it had the potential to turn a bit nasty, Pompey fans on platform 1 being divided by a train on platform 2 from the arriving Saints supporters, but that pulled out and it was a domino effect as the sea of hatred went along the line as they could suddenly see their enemy.
Plenty of abuse hurling and coin throwing, but they had no appetite for anything else.
It was then on the train and home for as easier trip to Fratton as I have ever had.
From this point of view the Police strategy worked, but given the fact that all the Saints supporters had been effectively bubbled anyway, you had to ask why they just didn't do that in the first place, with the number of police officers involved and drafted in from all over the country surely it would have been a far better strategy to have a bubble game that would have needed a lot less manpower and therefore would have saved hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money, money that could have been used in stopping the real crime that is now prevalent on the streets of Hampshire.
Photo: Action Images
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