Outrage after football fans stoned in Derry

Youths stoned buses carrying Protestant football supporters through Derry last night.

Youths stoned buses carrying Protestant football supporters through Derry last night.

Windows in a convoy of buses carrying fans away from a friendly between Belfast-based Linfield and Derry City were shattered.

There were no reports of injuries but shocked children screamed in terror as glass shattered around them.

It was the first time in 35 years that Linfield had travelled to Derry City’s Brandywell ground in the Republic Bogside area of Derry.

There had been fears of trouble but all seemed to be going well until moments after the match.

After making their escape, Trevor Roulston, chairman of the Linfield Supporters’ Club said: “That was a total disgrace. We were assured that we would be in and out of the Brandywell and the security would be good.

“There were children and young girls on those buses. I am not blaming Derry City officials and I am not blaming Derry City fans. It was the thugs out on the streets. I am very, very disappointed, it was a great sporting occasion and the atmosphere in the ground had been very good.”

The last time Linfield, and its Protestant supporters from Belfast travelled to Derry in 1970 for a match it too ended in trouble.

With the Troubles showing no signs of ending, Derry left the Irish League two years later and oscillated to the League of Ireland and played its matches against competition from the Republic.

Derry City returned to Linfield’s Windsor Park ground in Belfast and played in a trouble-free testimonial match.

Stewards from both teams marshalled the fans – around 300 who travelled from Belfast with Linfield and around 2,000 Derry City fans – and had kept them apart inside the ground.

There was the usual banter between rival fans but the match passed off with good humour – although several fireworks were thrown into the ground to land near the Linfield goalkeeper during the second half of the match.

The match ended 1-1, satisfying both groups of fans.

The trouble only broke out when the Linfield fans were being bussed out of the area to the other side of the city where they had left their cars for safety.

Police stayed out of the Bogside throughout the event but gathered on the edge of the city centre to shepherd the buses with their shattered windows away.

Police later branded those who carried out the attacks on the buses as “reckless and irresponsible”.

A total of 10 people suffered shock and one a minor knee injury when the windows in six buses leaving the football ground were shattered.

Chief Supt Richard Russell, Derry District Commander, said: “I am extremely disappointed that the mindless acts of the few spoiled what had been a mainly trouble free event. It is regrettable that the game will more than likely be remembered for the events which occurred after it.”

Ian Paisley Jr, the Democratic Unionist Party spokesman and a member of the policing board, hit out at the police operation for the match.

He said the Linfield supporters had been “abandoned by the police and given no protection whatsoever”.

Mr Paisley added: “I have spoken to many Linfield supporters since the match and they are totally outraged at the way they were treated.”

A private security firm was hired to work inside the ground alongside stewards from both clubs.

The security staff also fanned out on the streets outside the ground as the coaches were leaving but were unable to prevent the attacks on the coaches.

No police officers were visible for over three quarters of a mile while the fans in their coaches ran the gauntlet of stone throwers.

More in this section

IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.