Along with over 3,000 others, I went to watch my beloved Clarets in their game at the Reebok stadium.
As a Clarets fan, I’ve been watching Bolton v Burnley games since Burnley were visiting Burnden Park in the 1940s.
I can’t get over the experience– though I have tried! Not the result – I’ve been watching Burnley for nearly 70 years, and I’ve got used to losing games! Not even the performance of the team – lacklustre and disappointing though it was. But the behaviour of the fans.
Our fans! If you were there, I was near the scoreboard, not far from the Bolton supporters. The behaviour, the language, and the attitudes of the Clarets “supporters” was appalling. I was at a football match – yet it was horrible, dangerous, disgusting and threatening. Hundreds around me were totally drunk. They were being sick, fighting among themselves, crashing into each other, falling over, injuring others (a lady in front of me had to go off when one lout fell on her back!) And you might guess what our fans were chanting against Fabrice Muamba and Chung Yong Lee (the young Bolton player)!
The language and gesticulations were so offensive as to be unprintable.
Why? It wasn’t like this when I was in my teens, 20s and 30s! And we were just as desperate and passionate then to win our games. What was the point of it all?
Most of the Burnley mob weren’t watching the match, their main focus of attention was towards the Bolton fans, across the corner. (Indeed a few hundred missed the Burnley goal as they were still out drinking after half-time!)
The violent abuse began over an hour before the game and it was still going from bad to worse at the end. Folks – it was a football match, not World War Three!
I accept every club has its louts parading as supporters – the Bolton fans were little better - I was hit by a 50p piece on the side of my cheek – a couple of inches higher and I could have been blinded. Why?
What can be done? If this had been on the street outside, over a thousand would have been arrested!
Yet the police stood by and watched, only occasionally did they escort anyone off.
The Bolton stewards did nothing and I doubt if the Bolton bar staff refused to serve anyone? And Burnley themselves seemed quite happy to sell tickets to whoever asked.
Meanwhile, I, a life-long supporter, am very much tempted to join the “missing millions” by not buying my usual two season tickets next season, and seeking to find my enjoyment elsewhere in future. Can’t people enjoy a football match without violence and obscenities any more?
Even when I attend Turf Moor, we fans are often treated like criminals, with dogs, horses, barricades and police shouting at us.
Why are these yobs, whether in claret and blue shirts or otherwise, being allowed to take my sport and my club away from me?
The Rev. David Wiseman