Wednesday, March 16

Trains not taking the strain in Manchester

Good to see that the Manchester Evening News, The Sun and Daily Mail reported the chaos at Manchester Piccadilly station on Sunday night. The problem was that with too many fans for the trains, the police kettled us behind the glass doors on to the platform. The crowd was kept behind barriers in a winding line and the crush grew very heavy threatening to knock people over and becoming positively scary. We were kept there for an hour and rather than let people with reservations on to their trains the police let people through on a first-come first-served basis. I was there at 7.20pm for the 7.35pm train, but no-one was let through at all.

Despite chants of "Hillsborough!" and "You don't know what you're doing!" the Transport Police didn't make any announcements and nothing came over the PA, so the passengers waiting got angrier and angrier. Eventually a barrier got kicked over and there was a rush for the doors when the police tried to let people through in single file. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and one woman said she was accidentally hit when a policeman aimed a punch at a man who ducked. I eventually made it on to the 8.21pm train.

It was terrible policing, though not all the West Ham fans behaved well either. The transport police on the train had to prevent some fans stealing beer from the closed bar, while the police then seemed to favour a quiet life when a group of drunken Herberts sang anti-Semitic Spurs songs for the final part of the journey.

So it was a pretty shoddy journey all round — and certainly not worth £82 as I had to stand up all the way on the outward journey from London too. The fact that there was a football match and 9,000 West Ham fans were travelling to Manchester should not have taken Virgin Trains and the police by surprise.


Paul @westhamutdnews said...

That sounds terrible. Could you elaborate on the 'anti-semitic songs'? What were the lyrics (the reason I ask is that different people have got differing views on what is or isn't anti-semitic)?

As much as I love going to West Ham games I've become increasingly sick of this (although it's not like I ever thought it was ok). I've wondered if it was mainly at Tottenham games that this went on, but apparently not.

Pete May said...

It was the one that goes, "I never felt more like gassing the Jews when West Ham win and Tottenham lose…" The blokes singing it were very drunk, but no excuse.

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