It’s never our fault, it’s never our fault

Chris Hobbs /   June 21, 2016 at 11:18 AM 2,183 views

England flag

In an almost parallel universe, the Euro 2016 championships have also been taking place…

Here the supporters group known as Defending Fans Against Police Harassment (DFAPH) have issued a statement following violent incidents in Marseille and Lille

Defending Fans Against Police Harassment

It's Never Our Fault for Post

We of DFAPH wish to correct certain assumptions being made by the media concerning the behaviour of our brave boys and girls who have overcome harassment at UK air and sea ports, more harassment when arriving in France and then by thugs of the French police who, after all, have no other distractions other than the simple one of facilitating a football tournament.

Our loyal boys and girls have endured less than sympathetic comment from those sections of the media who clearly aren’t in the least concerned that their all-expenses, best seats in the house forays abroad may be terminated at the hands of UEFA. Our sincere thanks our friends in the media who have ‘told it as it is’ and we now take the opportunity to correct the untruths that have been propagated.

First of all, let’s consider the disgraceful new British police powers that enable them to hold up anyone for up to six hours even if they have no convictions for football violence in order to determine whether they will have a banning order served on them.

Johnny Smackem is a case in point. He has absolutely no convictions for football related violence. How can it be that, just because he is banned from every local pub in Chipping Norton and has spent a few years inside for GBH offences, some of which had nothing to do with pubs but merely involved his estranged girlfriend cruelly dumping him several years ago, he gets a banning order?

Johnny is but one of several cases we know about. If you have been the subject of a similar banning order please contact us and our legal team will attempt to sue the backside of the National Football Policing Unit on your behalf.

Clutching the berr

In a crisis, assess your priorities

Moving on to the much criticised behaviour of loyal fans who were merely exercising their vocal cords outside the various pubs and bars of Marseille from that Thursday afternoon until the French ultras appeared in the evening. Those who were bare chested, I am told, were merely suffering from skin complaints or vitamin D deficiency and what is wrong with showing off marvellous body art? I’m told that the Queen was delighted with the numerous renditions of God Save the Queen while ’10 German Bombers’ is intended as a fitting tribute to those still living who served in the RAF fighter command during World War Two.

And who could fail to be moved by our boys’ tribute to the RAF drone operators with the delightful rendition of:

‘Jihadi John is f**king dead

He had a bomb dropped on his head.’

In fact our boys and girls are being coached by Gareth Malone of Military Wives fame and hope to appear on the Voice in the near future with all proceeds going  to the “Fitted Up Abroad” charity who will be looking after those Brits who have been , well, fitted up  during the tournament by the French old bill.

We of course remember Marseille from 1998. Then our boys were on the sea front enjoying themselves when some Tunisians appeared in cars brandishing the Tunisian flag. They looked a bit thirsty so our boys, merely as a friendly gesture, lobbed some bottles in their direction. Of course this was misinterpreted and the three day riot is history.

We know that there is much footage taken from high buildings in Marseille of groups of fans, several hundred strong, running around the port area on Friday and Saturday morning. The groups of French and Russian thugs were unquestionably out for trouble and we also accept that some of these groups were English. We must point out however that these English groups were not looking for trouble but were merely in training for a forthcoming half marathon when cash will be raised for “Fitted Up Abroad.”

As for the bottles being lobbed at the French police standing around with British police spotters in the port area, I am reliably informed that in order to avoid littering, our fans were simply aiming at an adjacent litter bin.

Better shot of England fan with bottle

Keep France tidy; An England fan aims for the litter bin

The disgraceful attack [serious note – it was] on our fans in the stadium was beyond belief but rest assured the fear that the thousands of our loyal decent supporters must have put in as gangs of Russians and the French thugs roamed the streets was nothing to do with our boys who as stated earlier, were merely training for charity events.

Moving on to Lens and Lille it was good to see our boys getting on well with the Welsh. I can only add that the song that begun, “We’re England and Wales, we’re England and Wales’ did not end as was dubbed on the footage by hostile media “F**ck off Russia, we’re England and Wales” but “please be nice Russia, we’re England and Wales.”

Whilst some sections of the media were very supportive of the behaviour of our boys, we must correct some misunderstandings that may have been visible on social media. Ex-footballer now pundit Stan Collymore ostensibly, in the late afternoon the day before the England and Wales match, streamed live footage of hundreds of chanting England fans seemingly rampaging around the streets of Lille. This was again simply more training for our charity run and any chants of “Russia where are you?” were merely invitations to any Russians present to join in the fun.

euro-2016-lille-hooligans

Lille: England fans training for their charity run.

Later as it grew dark, Paul Wright of the International Business Times wrote that he followed a group of 50 England fans around the back streets looking to attack Russians.

Paul, Paul, Paul, these were members of our Historical Appreciation Society enjoying a night time tour of Lille’s famous old buildings. It was the French peasants who interrupted the tour demanding that we vote to Brexit.

And later we saw more misleading footage of English police spotters allegedly trying to pacify groups of drunken English fans. They were not. These officers were merely discussing the merits of the various French lagers and Eric Cantona’s acting ability.

And what of the French police? Why did they let our fans have so much freedom to roam around before using tear gas when they felt things may be getting out of hand? The question as to why didn’t they police using British police tactics is one being asked by us and thousands of English fans.

Oh and just a reminder for all English fans who have complaints back home from last season in respect of over-zealous police harassment at football matches including  kettling, escorting, shouting and segregation; we’ll be resuming investigations into your complaints at the end of the Euro’s, as ever looking for justice from the  repressive old bill. Stop criminalising football fans!!

Many of you will be aware of the YouTube football hooligan channels that can be found across Europe including Russia, most of which have been displaying alleged hooligan incidents in the UK. Let’s get the truth out there once and for all.

First of all the Manchester United team coach incident where it was bombarded with missiles and windows broken. These fans were not from West Ham; it was undercover fans from Dimitri Payet’s former club Marseille, yes those Marseille Ultras again misbehaving. By attacking United’s coach they hoped to get West Ham thrown out of next year’s Europa cup thereby ensuring Dimitri would return to Marseille.

Those Millwall fans trying to force their way through stewards at Wembley during the play off final were merely attempting to congratulate the opposing Barnsley fans on their team’s performance. The Barnsley fans including families, seen fleeing were not running away from Millwall but were escaping from the police as officers began arriving in the stand.

The portrayal of fighting Liverpool and Manchester United fans at the Old Trafford during their Europa league match was a gross exaggeration of a friendly argument as to which side’s fans had smuggled the highest number of smoke bombs and flares into grounds over the season.

Then we have what appears to be hundreds of Spurs supporters attempting to attack Arsenal supporters as they entered the White Hart Lane ground. This was a case of mistaken identity. As you know Spurs have a strong Jewish following: Spurs supporters are jocularly referred to as yids and indeed refer to themselves as yids.

The Spurs supporters simply merely mistook the Arsenal fans entering the ground as dangerous jihadi terrorists and quite understandably, and indeed bravely, decided to take action.

Arsenal Spurs Police jihadists

Spurs fans confronted by police after mistaking Arsenal fans for jihadi terrorists.

So, fellow supporters as you can see, despite the fact that football related violence amongst fans across England has virtually been eliminated; there are still those who have a vested interest in claiming that it has never gone away.

We also have to say we are very disappointed that no English tabloid has managed to capture the English police spotters relaxing by a pool or eating meals during their off duty hours or parking their vehicle on French double yellows.

You can also see that along our twitter timeline we rarely have cause to mention violent incidents but frequently, of course, have cause to mention heavy handed policing. If, next season, you are victimised, harassed, corralled kettled, arrested or banned by police, please let our legal team know and we’ll see if we can get you some bunce for these expensive away trips.

In the meantime we’ll continue our brave campaign to completely eliminate police from the policing of all football throughout the UK.

Let football be self policing: Let’s stop the criminalisation of innocent fans.

Oh and some of you have asked if we will be out in Russia should England qualify for the 2018 World Cup Finals. In fact the DFAPH team here have already booked a three week relaxation break in Kabul.

……………

Despite the satirical nature of this piece, I am only too well aware of the ordeal suffered by the overwhelming majority of decent England fans in Marseille on those Friday and Saturday nights. I too experienced a Euro riot abroad many years ago. Because of the violence we left the ground early and fled the city in our mini-bus, with English plates, only returning in the early hours of the morning.

I’m also acutely aware of the terrible injuries suffered by Pompey fan Andrew Bache, whose was savagely attacked by Russian thugs and who survived thanks to CPR administered by a French police officer. The most recent reports happily suggest that Andrew, who was in a coma, has regained consciousness. I hope he makes a full recovery.

Nevertheless, incidents in our domestic game together with the scenes we witnessed in Euro 2016 should be the subject of serious debate albeit partially via satire.

Chris Hobbs

(Metropolitan Police 1978 to 2011)

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