Police have condemned the “small minority of hooligans” who spoiled the first clash between Bristol Rovers and Bristol City in six years. And they have asked fans to tweet them pictures of those involved in anti-social behaviour or violence before, after or during last night’s game.
By this afternoon they had made 19 arrests and said there were more to follow.
Three police officers were injured, although not seriously, in the trouble that flared at the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match which ended in a 2-1 victory for City.
Police match commander Chief Superintendent Caroline Peters, pictured left, said there had been a “perfect build-up” to the game at Ashton Gate, with both sets of fans well-behaved and in good humour.
But as fans began to enter the stadium, small isolated pockets of anti-social behaviour broke out in and around the city outside the ground. Police acted swiftly to move in and arrest troublemakers.
At the end of the game, attended by a crowd of about 18,000 people, City fans went on to the pitch and mounted officers helped stewards to disperse them within minutes.
Chief Supt Peters said: “The majority of fans were well behaved and enjoyed the match. However, there was a small minority who came with the sole intention of trying to spoil the enjoyment for the majority.
“We warned before the match that we would not tolerate any form of anti-social behaviour or violence. We will now aim to bring the offenders to justice using CCTV coverage and other intelligence and information.”
This afternoon she added: “We have received messages of thanks and support via the media and also through our Twitter accounts for our policing of the event although we will review what we did and how we can build on this in the future.
“I would like to thank the public and the vast majority of fans who attended last night’s game for their patient and support during the policing operation.
“We’re keen to hear from fans who were at the game who may have captured images of those involved in anti-social behaviour or violence before, after or during last night’s game. Anyone able to help is asked to tweet us their images using the hashtag #BristolRedCard”
Geoff Dunford, from Keynsham, who is on Rovers’ board of directors, tweeted last night: “A big thank you to Gasheads for your good conduct under difficult circumstances. You are a credit to our team and we are proud of you.”
Rovers’ manager John Ward called the pitch invasion “ridiculous” adding: “Why people can’t behave themselves at a football match is beyond me.”
Bristol City manager Sean O’Driscoll also said the behaviour of some fans on both sides was “disappointing”.