Time to tackle thug element! End the coin-throwing now, or expect some more serious damage
23:10 GMT, 10 December 2012
During a lunch with Manchester City's former winger Mike Summerbee back in 2009, he offered the following recollection of life as a footballer in the North West in the 1960s.
'The United fans hated me,' he said. 'They really got stuck in to me. I went over to take a corner once in a derby at Old Trafford and the United fans threw coins at me.
'So I picked them all up and put them in my pocket. I got 4.50 from them that day. Which was nice.'
Shocking: Danny Welbeck remonstrates as United players,
including Rio Ferdinand (right) are showered with coins (circled)
So there we have it. No longer can we pretend that what we witnessed at City's Etihad Stadium on Sunday is a new problem. A meeting of Manchester's two football clubs has long since roused extreme passions.
It has, it appears, long since prompted people standing on the terraces or sitting in the stands to do things they really should not. What made it different this time was that somebody got hit.
Rio Ferdinand didn't have the opportunity to bend down and put the smattering of 2p coins into his pocket as he was too busy holding a hand to the blood gushing from his left eyebrow. It was going to happen eventually, of course. Some idiot was always going to hit the bullseye.
Struck down: Commentators have tried to apportion some of the blame on Ferdinand for his celebrations
What matters now is not how loud
people shout about this but what football does. In the 12 hours or so
that followed the derby, there was certainly lots of shouting; lots of
pained, anxious voices.
Taylor of the PFA called for the introduction of netting in front of
some fans and warned that football is in danger of edging back towards
the dark days of mass hooliganism in the 1980s.
first suggestion has some merit and is worthy of investigation. At Old
Trafford, for example, netting hangs behind one goal to protect
disabled spectators from the ball. It is almost invisible and there have
been few complaints.
Pitch invader: Ferdinand was also targeted by a fan who raced onto the field
other, rather more sweeping, statement is categorically untrue. Taylor
was still trundling along the wing for Bury in 1980 so maybe he wasn't
aware of exactly what used to happen on England's crumbling terraces.
summarise, it was tribal, unchecked, organised and often terrifying.
Minorities were not tolerated and violence was. For a while, the 1980s
English football scene was so ugly that many stopped going.
modern game is barely recognisable from those dismal days and, given
the advances made on and off the field, there is no chance of us
days like this, wild exaggeration doesn't help. Perspective does. There
were 13 arrests on Sunday. Greater Manchester Police are satisfied with
that. I would be, too. What happened on Sunday happens often. There is
no point pretending otherwise.
United front: Ferdinand was celebrating in front of the United fans and Rooney receives abuse (below)
Europe, supporters throw missiles at each other and on to the field. In
Spain, the president of Real Madrid once forbade Luis Figo from taking
corners when he returned to former club Barcelona because he was
terrified of losing his prized asset to a smack on the head from a golf
those among the visiting supporters on Sunday, City and United fans
hurled coins at each other throughout the game and, by all accounts, it
wasn't just Ferdinand's blood that was spilled.
at the TV footage and you will see an object land behind Wayne Rooney
as he celebrates his second goal. Wind forward and you will see Rooney
standing among detritus as he prepares to take a corner.
Ferdinand not been hit, these incidents would have appeared only as
footnotes in the coverage of a splendid Barclays Premier League game.
It's only when the blood starts to run that people get interested.
meanwhile, only scour the CCTV footage for the ones with the better
aim. Maybe, on reflection, it is this that needs to change. Maybe the
stance – from all clubs – needs to be stronger when it comes to those
supporters who have more money than sense and decide to start lobbing it
towards the pitch.
the stewards begin to point out, and then throw out, everyone spotted
behaving this way then the message may begin to permeate the brains of
the idiots. Certainly to blame the players in this instance is quite
wrong. Footballers, and managers, need to understand their
Ugly scenes: The fans directed abuse at each other as well as the players
have been times when they have crossed the line of what is right and
celebration has morphed into provocation, most notably when Emmanuel
Adebayor – then of City – sprinted the length of the field to
celebrate a goal on his knees in front of supporters of his previous
Sunday, however, United's players were quite within their rights to
celebrate in front of their own supporters. Goodness me, they had earned
player Pat Crerand has been lampooned for the vigorous nature of his
comments on BBC 5 Live yesterday morning. Yet the core of his argument –
that Ferdinand did nothing wrong – was absolutely correct.
Coin: The United defender was struck in the head
who wish to deride our players over this should remember that a day out
at the football was never meant to be akin to a trip to the theatre.
Its visceral characteristics have always been part of football's unique
So, yes, let's
find the moron who wounded Ferdinand and, while we are at it, let's
view the footage and find his co-conspirators. Let's also look properly
at the issues surrounding safety netting and let's continue to remind
players and managers of what is acceptable.
all, let's be vigilant. But let's not pretend we are sliding back
towards the age of Doc Marten boots and organised tear-ups outside
train stations. Because, quite simply, we are not. We remain better than