Far too often the media pick up on a few numpties fighting and whip up a moral panic around football hooliganism.
This is despite the fact that the vast, vast majority who go to games encounter no problems whatsoever and certainly don't get involved in it. The last time we checked the stats showed only one in every 10,000 fans is arrested per match and only 10 per cent of those are for violence.
It’s about time normal fans are given a voice too - most go to have a bit crack with opposition fans, not crack them – and there’s no better example of this than the Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town fans who met up prior to their team’s Championship fixture earlier this month.
The Red Faction, a supporters group at Middlesbrough, and Section 6 of Ipswich Town hung up banners in a neutral area between the two sets of fans, stating ‘Fans Not Hooligans’ and ‘Supporters Not Criminals’.
In light of today’s news of fines for West Ham and Millwall it’s a nice reminder that the overwhelming majority of supporters have no time for those who use football as a vehicle for violence. These are society’s ills and football fans have done more than most to challenge mindless behaviour down they years.
Well done to everyone involved – this was a supporter lead initiative and full credit to those at Middlesbrough and Ipswich for it.
If you’d like to roll out something similar at your club the Red Faction would be more then happy to tell of their experiences and advise on how to get it done.