Football fans have reacted with outrage following reports of crowd trouble and alleged police brutality that overshadowed an FA Cup tie between Stockport County and Chester FC.
The game, which took place on Saturday, October 25, ended in disappointment for Hatters fans as they were beaten 4-2 by the Conference side, in a hot-tempered affair which saw two red cards.
Over the past week, reports have emerged of heavy-handedness from GMP officers, as they reacted to violence between both sets of fans.
One incident allegedly saw a man hit across the face with a glass, as chaos erupted between the long-time adversaries.
WARNING: the video below contains strong language
One student, Sam Byrne, was busy completing university work outside of the ground when he witnessed the violence.
He told MM: “Police came storming in on their horses with batons etc just shoving people everywhere. An older County fan walked past and waved his arms up at the police as if to say ‘calm down’ and they shoved him up against the wall and gave him a crack round the legs with the batons before shoving him away and moving back to the Chester fans.
“I know there are some quite lively fans knocking about but from what I saw, the police were plainly bullying standard match-going fans while the fans who would be more into the violence were just freely walking around. “
Outraged fans also took to forums to share their encounters with GMP officers and express their anger.
One user, EltonblueS, wrote on Chester FC forum: “I went to designated pub as requested, walked peacefully to the ground as requested by the police, suddenly from nowhere the police went berserk started pushing everyone around and randomly hitting them.
“I shouted to the police to calm down, for this sin I got smashed across the back of my legs with a truncheon twice, can’t walk today, got a smashed up knee, assaulted by a police officer for absolutely nothing.
“Doctors tomorrow then probably A & E. No justification for this behaviour whatsoever.”
Another poster on the forum described the events as: “Lazy, awful and unlawful policing behaviour; a shambles and totally unforgiveable.”
Chester fans had been told by GMP to go to The Nelson Tavern on Wellington Road as their designated pub in an ultimately futile attempt to stem the chance of violence at the match.
Stockport County away, 1282 Chester fans. pic.twitter.com/8u8apOARqj
— Owen Lythe (@Lythe_Teeners) October 25, 2014
Reacting to the allegations, Superintendent Stuart Barton defended the actions of the officers present at the game.
He said: “In certain circumstances, our policing style has to change when it is clear that some of those in attendance are only there to cause trouble.
“Our policing response was justified and proportionate in the circumstances our officers faced, but if anyone wants to make an official complaint they can do so and it will be investigated.
“It was evident before the Stockport v Chester game that a number of supporters from both clubs were intent on antagonising each other and inciting violence,” he added.
More than 4,000 people attended the match at Edgeley Park, with the club urging fans to buy tickets in advance for what was a hotly-anticipated tie.
Superintendent Barton added: “Given the aggressive atmosphere, our policing style had to change and we adopted proportionate tactics in order to calm the situation down and prevent innocent people who were there simply to watch the game from being hurt.
“It is always a shame when people attend football fixtures looking to cause trouble and deliberately incite other fans, which ruins the enjoyment of the game for everyone else.”
Image and video clip courtesy of Jamie Taylor, with thanks.