Trouble at the KC: 'This was like going back 10 years'

Police commander tells of organised violence by Millwall fans as spectre of hooliganism returns
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The Independent Football

Millwall and Hull City face possible punitive action after serious crowd trouble marred yesterday's FA Cup fourth-round match at the KC Stadium, which saw scenes that a police commander described as "like going back 10 years".

Seats were ripped up and thrown by supporters of both teams as segregation broke down and police in riot gear were deployed to keep rival groups apart. Bars had to be shut after staff were threatened and streets outside the ground were closed more than 90 minutes after the final whistle. Last night, 12 arrests were made and more are expected once closed circuit TV pictures have been studied.

Humberside Police announced an immediate inquiry into the incidents, which began before kick-off and continued during and after the match, which Hull won 2-0. It is expected that the Football Association will also conduct their own inquiry.

Chief inspector Darren Downs, who was in charge of policing the 25,000-capacity stadium, said the trouble was planned and organised by Millwall supporters. "We had intelligence that this was a planned incident involving about 500 'risk category' individuals among around 3,000 Millwall fans," he said. "We understand that some groups who follow the club identify one match per season to cause serious trouble. Last year it was an FA Cup tie at Coventry on the same weekend.

The Chief Inspector added: "Problems developed before the match kicked off when a number of fans in the Millwall section began to tear up the segregation netting placed over the empty seats, allowing them to get closer to Hull supporters. Officers moved in to form a barrier but seats, bottles and coins were thrown by fans from both teams." Around 280 police officers were involved.

He thought that no blame could be attached to Millwall as a club. "We are satisfied that those involved had made their own travel arrangements and that there was little that could have been done to prevent them coming to the game," he said. "And while it could be said that the trouble was instigated by Millwall followers, it is also true that some Hull fans did not shower themselves with glory. The arrests included supporters of both teams.

"It is unusual nowadays for incidents of this nature to take place within a stadium. This is certainly the worst incident since the KC Stadium opened. This was like going back 10 years."