On Saturday Stoke travel to the London Stadium, the new home of West Ham United, where there have been numerous instances of crowd trouble this season including the much publicised trouble between Chelsea and West Ham fans last week. Growing up in the Boothen End I am not unfamiliar with the mentality of a certain minority of Stoke fans and these two facts put together leave me with a sense of apprehension leading up to the match.
I know that for the majority of fans who will turn up for Saturday’s match football will be the sole consideration and I hope that my misgivings end up being nothing more than that but with the move from Upton Park, West Ham have an increased capacity to fill and I wonder if this is the reason why this season there seems to be more trouble at their home games. Football hooliganism, whilst less prevalent than in the last century has, and I am afraid will always be, around. For some football is merely an excuse to have a fight on a Saturday night and whilst not as widely popularised as some other clubs Stoke City has always had a healthy collection of dickheads wanting a rumble.
To combat any prospective trouble going forward West Ham have put together a five-point security plan and whilst most, if not all, belongs in the common sense category there are two interrelated items which I hope they stick to. One is for the stewards to have handheld cameras to film disturbances and if they do then I hope that West Ham stick to their zero tolerance banning policy. Furthermore, if a fan is banned from West Ham they should be banned from every sport arena in the United Kingdom, for life.
Some may say this may be a little heavy handed but as I have already stated there are always going to be “fans” who only really want to fight. I doubt if they are banned from attending their Saturday afternoon rallying points in ever increasing numbers that it will stop them fighting but it will, hopefully, keep them away from the game they are trying to pollute. If they then still insist on keeping kicking the shit out of each other let them, I have no problems with groups of idiotic morons converging to try and cripple each other, as long as they do it away from me and my family.
Finally, there have been calls for West Ham to be docked points if they are unable to sort out the problem of violence at the London Stadium. Whilst this may be an incentive for the club to act it is not the solution as it would be unfair to punish the majority of West Ham fans for the actions of a braindead minority. If the club are true to their word in trying to tackle this new outbreak of ground based violence we should be applauding and trying to help them not criticising them because their problems may one day be our own.