Yesterday (Saturday 7th March) I was one of the 1,432 Bristolians that travelled to Swindon to watch Swindon Town v Bristol Rovers at the County Ground. A West Country derby, that for Rovers fans is one of the biggest matches of the season. Rovers walked all over 'em, winning 4 - 0, unfortunately the day was slightly marred by the behaviour of a minority of people that I eloquently refer to as "twats".
On the train over I sat in the same carriage as a group (eight or so) of mainly young white lads, although they had a couple of older fellas with them (no doubt the ring-leaders winding up the others) who sadly turned out to be Rovers supporters, I use the term "supporters" loosely in this instance. They were making a bit of a racket, fairly standard for travelling football fans, however when one of them spilt or chucked his can of piss-weak lager all over the floor the train manager, a young black woman, inevitably had to intervene and tell them to calm down. As she turned away I heard one of these "men" mutter under his breath 'Why don't you fuck off back to your own country', his mate, who looked like he was either in a boy band or had been dressed by his mum, then muttered 'I'll kick her in the cunt'. And they say chivalry is dead.
After arriving at Swindon we were forced by the coppers into The Casbah pub on John Street, where we were kettled before it was time to be marched to the stadium, again fairly standard treatment for away fans. On the march to The County Ground around twenty wankers at the front, including the group from the train, started to chant E, E, EDL, a couple of them (not all) then chanted BNP, at this point someone else shouted at them to shut up or told them to fuck off or something along those lines and they all went quiet, then switched to general Rovers chants.
After the match, and the stormin' victory, on the march back to Swindon train station, everyone was in a good mood and singing, nothing wrong with that, but this same group of muppets were again at the front, at one point one of these "brave" patriots screamed a load of abuse at a passing woman who had a couple of kids with her. Again I think somebody else said something to him about it and he slunk away.
Up until now we have been lucky that the EDL have been unable to march in Bristol, but there are undoubtly EDL elements within both Bristol football clubs and they will try to get permission to march here again. Hopefully locals will be capable of organising against, and stopping them without being exploited by the SWP and Searchlight front group Unite Against Fascism, which has happened in other cities. However as the Defence Leagues, like the National Front in the eighties, attempt to use and recruit young lads from football grounds, sometimes using the name Casuals United, there is the very real possibilty that all football supporters, who historically have been one of the medias favourite scapegoats, will be crucifed for the sins of a minority. In order to prevent the EDL and racists from strengthening their stranglehold on West Country football clubs, fans (and I'm even talking to that lot South of the river), need to avoid slipping into apathy and like someone or some people yesterday speak (or shout) out when they hear twats saying out of order shite at football.
There is nothing wrong with singing in the pub before or after a game, exchanging banter, and trying to out sing and shout down the opposition fans, its part of football spectatorship, but racism, abuse against women and kids, and giving shit to passersby who aren't into football (I call 'em oddballs) and probably couldn't care less about your team, is not part of football and never will be. Don't let the twats ruin football.
See you in the Blackthorn End.
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