Three police officers were injured and 29 fans arrested today as the spectre of hooliganism returned to English football over the weekend.
The arrests following the North-east derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland today followed disturbances on Saturday at Wembley, where 14 fans were arrested after fighting broke out during the FA Cup semi-final between Millwall and Wigan Athletic.
Police said yesterday that missiles were thrown in their direction as a group of Newcastle fans tried to confront Sunderland supporters in Central Station, Newcastle, after the home side’s 0-3 defeat at St James’ Park.
One officer was taken to hospital for treatment and the station had to be closed for a short period.
Fans emptied bins to throw bottles at police. One Newcastle supporter said, however, that some Sunderland fans threw stones in their direction and one gave a clear Nazi salute as they passed a pub where Newcastle fans were drinking after the game.
A police spokeswoman said: “The most serious incident involved a group of Newcastle fans in Central Station attempting to confront Sunderland supporters, but they were intercepted by officers from British Transport Police.
“During this incident, missiles were thrown at the officers, which resulted in three injuries to officers – one of them requiring assessment at hospital.” Police said they received reports of minor incidents, including the release of smoke canisters, before and during the match. It is believed that Newcastle fans were also involved in a series of sporadic incidents of disorder in the city centre after the match, the spokeswoman said.
Chief Superintendent Steve Neill of Northumbria Police said: “The vast majority of fans were well-behaved today.
“Disappointingly, there was some disorder involving what appear to be Newcastle United supporters following the match in the city centre, including an incident at Central Station.
“Disruptive behaviour of any kind is not tolerated. Inquiries will take place into these incidents and action will be taken against all those involved. For those who chose to get involved in disruptive behaviour they were either dealt with swiftly by officers or will be subject to retrospective action at a later date.”
On Saturday, 14 men were arrested after Millwall fans began fighting with each other during the second half of their 0-2 defeat by Wigan, in disturbing scenes which left youngsters in tears and were witnessed by millions on television. Scotland Yard said 12 of those held were Millwall supporters and two Wigan fans. Reports suggested the violence may have been sparked by two families fighting in the stands.
The FA said it has launched an investigation into Saturday’s trouble.