A balancing act between safety and liberty

Saints fans will be in a 'bubble' ahead of the match at Fratton Park

Saints fans will be in a 'bubble' ahead of the match at Fratton Park

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Digital Editor

Before you read the column..

This column is part of a feature looking at the bubble Hampshire Constabulary will be employing for the two matches between Saints and Pompey this season.

To understand more of the context and to learn more about the bubble, please read the special feature which can be found here.

HOOLIGANISM is not the problem it was back in the 70s or 80s, but remnants of it remain.

It’s not as if away fans travel the length and breadth of the nation any more with the aim to ‘take the home end’.

No sane person wants to be on the end of a kicking, especially just because you happen to come from Southampton rather than Portsmouth or are red rather than blue.

But at the same time, no-one likes being told what to do.

Football fans are not allowed to drink alcohol during matches, or to be served soft drink bottles with lids on.

We’re not allowed to stand up and we are not allowed to go to whichever pub we desire. Now we’re not allowed to even travel how we want.

I don’t envy Hampshire Constabulary. I wouldn’t want to have to stand in front a few hundred football fans jeering and lobbing coins at each other.

But at the same time, why should the thousands who just go to the game, sing a few songs and go home or to the pub have their freedoms curtailed just to prevent the few from causing trouble?

My personal belief is that a lot of the problems at the last derby match at St Mary’s was due the perpetrators believing they were safe – protected from the police by the crowd and from the opposing fans by the police.

It’s all very well giving it the “big I am” behind a fence and few dozen coppers, but I imagine many would think twice if there was actually a risk of reprisals.

That’s not something any police officer could ever say, but at the same time you can never guarantee you’ll weed out every troublemaker, so you have to depend on enough people policing their own behaviour to a point – that’s kind of how law and order works in a society like ours.

For those who don’t, that’s where the authorities come in.

I understand why the police and the clubs – and let’s not forget, this policy is as much Southampton and Portsmouth football clubs’ as it is Hampshire Constabulary’s – are taking this action.

They want to prevent disorder. Fine, but they have a duty to uphold liberty also.

Football fans in the UK are used to being told what they’re not allowed to do.

We all know the reasons for it and sadly the spectre of hooliganism has not yet been entirely eradicated – but it is not the problem it once was.

But why curtail the freedom of the majority to tackle a fraction?

As Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1775: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty, to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

It may sound twee, naive and utopian but a balance has to be found.

As it stands, football fans can’t help but feel we’re all under suspicion all the time, when most of us just want a pint, a laugh – and three points.

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Comments (12)

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1:13pm Mon 7 Nov 11

St.Yorkie says...

At the end of the day - it people want to scrap they will find a way, regardless what the club and police do! Whilst the bubble concept is fine - the likelihood of someone getting a "good kicking" is minimised - but a convoy of coaches make for an easy target!
I did Pompey in the 70's and won with an 89th minute (Channon) winner at a night match. Sure they wanted "it" - but they backed down if you stood your ground! Similarly in 1984 - just let them get on with it.
Sadly today there are a lot of grown men (not adolescent or pubescent lads) who still find this kind of behaviour acceptable.
Now on awaydays the last thing I
expect is confrontation. The closest I have got to that in the last 10-years following Saints has been a light hearted dispute as to who got served first!
Football is a very social activity attracting people from all walks of life - it's a great shame we can't all just have a few beers and some light hearted banter every week, and leave it at that...
At the end of the day - it people want to scrap they will find a way, regardless what the club and police do! Whilst the bubble concept is fine - the likelihood of someone getting a "good kicking" is minimised - but a convoy of coaches make for an easy target! I did Pompey in the 70's and won with an 89th minute (Channon) winner at a night match. Sure they wanted "it" - but they backed down if you stood your ground! Similarly in 1984 - just let them get on with it. Sadly today there are a lot of grown men (not adolescent or pubescent lads) who still find this kind of behaviour acceptable. Now on awaydays the last thing I expect is confrontation. The closest I have got to that in the last 10-years following Saints has been a light hearted dispute as to who got served first! Football is a very social activity attracting people from all walks of life - it's a great shame we can't all just have a few beers and some light hearted banter every week, and leave it at that... St.Yorkie
  • Score: 0

8:10pm Wed 9 Nov 11

Jesus_02 says...

Stopping people drinking beer in grounds has Zero effect on anything.

Soveling 2 pints at half time has far more effect on the atmophere under which people watch football.

Ecstacy comdowns rather than hangovers curatailed hoolaganism as much as anything.

In short if you treat people like animals they will act like animals, and yes Pompey fans hurling abuse from the saftey of a police baracade only hieghtens the sense of danger and if for some reason the bubble bursts then thats how people find themselves in places they would never imaginethemselves to be in.
Stopping people drinking beer in grounds has Zero effect on anything. Soveling 2 pints at half time has far more effect on the atmophere under which people watch football. Ecstacy comdowns rather than hangovers curatailed hoolaganism as much as anything. In short if you treat people like animals they will act like animals, and yes Pompey fans hurling abuse from the saftey of a police baracade only hieghtens the sense of danger and if for some reason the bubble bursts then thats how people find themselves in places they would never imaginethemselves to be in. Jesus_02
  • Score: 0

3:05pm Fri 11 Nov 11

costa gaz says...

Simple really, ban away fans from both fixtures.
The journey to and from the stadiums will be a much nicer experience, mums and dads with kids would attend without fear of being caught up in trouble, the clubs would save an absolute fortune on policing, the grounds would sell out.
Ok, the atmosphere inside would be a bit strange, but that would be a small price to pay.
Some would say that the trouble makers would travel anyway, very unlikely in my opinion especially if the matches were beamed live to the away sides ground.
If there is no one to fight, then a fight cannot happen.
When all 64 coaches leave the relative stadiums, it'll take most of Hampshires finest to form human shields along the routes leaving the grounds.
Next month will see how effective the bubble is.
Simple really, ban away fans from both fixtures. The journey to and from the stadiums will be a much nicer experience, mums and dads with kids would attend without fear of being caught up in trouble, the clubs would save an absolute fortune on policing, the grounds would sell out. Ok, the atmosphere inside would be a bit strange, but that would be a small price to pay. Some would say that the trouble makers would travel anyway, very unlikely in my opinion especially if the matches were beamed live to the away sides ground. If there is no one to fight, then a fight cannot happen. When all 64 coaches leave the relative stadiums, it'll take most of Hampshires finest to form human shields along the routes leaving the grounds. Next month will see how effective the bubble is. costa gaz
  • Score: 0

11:31am Sat 12 Nov 11

Scrutinizer says...

Dan, The simple fact is, that many years ago in the late sixties and early seventies the small minority began to create enough of a problem to warrant the kind of treatment imposed on the football fan scene as it is today. If more of the majority had manned-up and shown some guts THEN, by informing on the hooligan element, dishing out some manly threats to them, well then the situation would never have developed as far as it did. But no, 'we' don't tell on 'our' 'mates', our fellow 'fan's', do we? That's not the done thing, the 'manly' thing, is it? So let's all stand around laughing and taking the mick while the cops struggle to identify these guys amongst us on the terraces/in the stands. I remember standing on the terraces in the mid-seventies as a young teenager, terrified at times when there was serious trouble. Question; How many people do you think pointed out the trouble makers? Answer: Very, very few did. Then the authorities, finally after many years, bring in some tough laws and rules and with camera technology coming in with it, and some people don't like it. Well tough. The Majority have to 'suffer' for the consequences of some of the actions of the minority. All laws are like that to some extent. It's always been that way. For the most part football fans, and yes, I include the majority here, are just not like those of rugby and cricket. Way it is and probably always will be. It's STILL far too aggressively tribal. There is a LOT - no a heck of a LOT - of history to why the situation has got to where it has today today, pal. The past is still with us, albeit subdued a little more now, but it's still HERE. So try not to complain too much, won't you? I could add, lest we forget...
Dan, The simple fact is, that many years ago in the late sixties and early seventies the small minority began to create enough of a problem to warrant the kind of treatment imposed on the football fan scene as it is today. If more of the majority had manned-up and shown some guts THEN, by informing on the hooligan element, dishing out some manly threats to them, well then the situation would never have developed as far as it did. But no, 'we' don't tell on 'our' 'mates', our fellow 'fan's', do we? That's not the done thing, the 'manly' thing, is it? So let's all stand around laughing and taking the mick while the cops struggle to identify these guys amongst us on the terraces/in the stands. I remember standing on the terraces in the mid-seventies as a young teenager, terrified at times when there was serious trouble. Question; How many people do you think pointed out the trouble makers? Answer: Very, very few did. Then the authorities, finally after many years, bring in some tough laws and rules and with camera technology coming in with it, and some people don't like it. Well tough. The Majority have to 'suffer' for the consequences of some of the actions of the minority. All laws are like that to some extent. It's always been that way. For the most part football fans, and yes, I include the majority here, are just not like those of rugby and cricket. Way it is and probably always will be. It's STILL far too aggressively tribal. There is a LOT - no a heck of a LOT - of history to why the situation has got to where it has today today, pal. The past is still with us, albeit subdued a little more now, but it's still HERE. So try not to complain too much, won't you? I could add, lest we forget... Scrutinizer
  • Score: 0

2:43pm Sat 12 Nov 11

ÚTS says...

Scrutinizers comment is the biggest amount of patronising rubbish I've ever read and makes me wonder if its actually by a copper.

It is people with attitudes like that which mean the police and the government get away with treating football fans like criminals without proper justification.

Dan, complain as much as you want. Someone has to say something rather than just taking all the crap that is forced on to fans and I'm glad someone in the media is at last making a stand.
Scrutinizers comment is the biggest amount of patronising rubbish I've ever read and makes me wonder if its actually by a copper. It is people with attitudes like that which mean the police and the government get away with treating football fans like criminals without proper justification. Dan, complain as much as you want. Someone has to say something rather than just taking all the crap that is forced on to fans and I'm glad someone in the media is at last making a stand. ÚTS
  • Score: 0

5:32pm Sat 12 Nov 11

Scrutinizer says...

ÚTS wrote:
Scrutinizers comment is the biggest amount of patronising rubbish I've ever read and makes me wonder if its actually by a copper. It is people with attitudes like that which mean the police and the government get away with treating football fans like criminals without proper justification. Dan, complain as much as you want. Someone has to say something rather than just taking all the crap that is forced on to fans and I'm glad someone in the media is at last making a stand.
In denial, me thinks.
[quote][p][bold]ÚTS[/bold] wrote: Scrutinizers comment is the biggest amount of patronising rubbish I've ever read and makes me wonder if its actually by a copper. It is people with attitudes like that which mean the police and the government get away with treating football fans like criminals without proper justification. Dan, complain as much as you want. Someone has to say something rather than just taking all the crap that is forced on to fans and I'm glad someone in the media is at last making a stand.[/p][/quote]In denial, me thinks. Scrutinizer
  • Score: 0

1:21pm Mon 14 Nov 11

Redrobbo says...

Unfortunately the behaviour of many football fans leaves a great deal to be desired. It is still very tribal.If an away fan sits in the area designated for home fans and cheers if his team scores then all hell lets loose. I am not talking about someone standing amongst the Northam end, but elsewhere in the ground where the majority of people choose to sit and watch the game without wishing to engage in tribal chanting at rival fans. It addens me because although lifelong Saints fan and season ticket holder I do go to Rugby on a fairly regular basis. I would love football fans to behave like rugby fans and to be treated by the authorities in the same way as rugby fans. many go to both sports yet their behaviour at both is poles apart.Why can someone go to rugby have a few beers before and during the game and sit nect to rival fans and discuss the merits of the game, yet the same person at a football match would scream blue murder of an opposing fan even dare to sit in the same part of the ground . I used to think it was something to do with the way football and rudby players were portrayed in the press and this somehow had an influence on the behaviour of the fans, but rugby players now seem equally as boorish as the average premiership footballer.
Unfortunately the behaviour of many football fans leaves a great deal to be desired. It is still very tribal.If an away fan sits in the area designated for home fans and cheers if his team scores then all hell lets loose. I am not talking about someone standing amongst the Northam end, but elsewhere in the ground where the majority of people choose to sit and watch the game without wishing to engage in tribal chanting at rival fans. It addens me because although lifelong Saints fan and season ticket holder I do go to Rugby on a fairly regular basis. I would love football fans to behave like rugby fans and to be treated by the authorities in the same way as rugby fans. many go to both sports yet their behaviour at both is poles apart.Why can someone go to rugby have a few beers before and during the game and sit nect to rival fans and discuss the merits of the game, yet the same person at a football match would scream blue murder of an opposing fan even dare to sit in the same part of the ground . I used to think it was something to do with the way football and rudby players were portrayed in the press and this somehow had an influence on the behaviour of the fans, but rugby players now seem equally as boorish as the average premiership footballer. Redrobbo
  • Score: 0

6:29pm Mon 14 Nov 11

mansak_hunt says...

if footy fans stopped behaving like morons this wouldn't happen - name anoter sport that get these problems - oh hang on there isn't one
if footy fans stopped behaving like morons this wouldn't happen - name anoter sport that get these problems - oh hang on there isn't one mansak_hunt
  • Score: 0

9:59am Tue 15 Nov 11

Johnny77 says...

mansak_hunt wrote:
if footy fans stopped behaving like morons this wouldn't happen - name anoter sport that get these problems - oh hang on there isn't one
Ha very true!
[quote][p][bold]mansak_hunt[/bold] wrote: if footy fans stopped behaving like morons this wouldn't happen - name anoter sport that get these problems - oh hang on there isn't one[/p][/quote]Ha very true! Johnny77
  • Score: 0

5:53pm Tue 15 Nov 11

Redrobbo says...

mansak_hunt wrote:
if footy fans stopped behaving like morons this wouldn't happen - name anoter sport that get these problems - oh hang on there isn't one
Unfortunately, you are right to a degree. A small minority act like morons and ruin it for the majority, a bot like society in general! I have watched football for over 50 years and have never engaged in any act of hooliganism, and I am sure I am not alone.
[quote][p][bold]mansak_hunt[/bold] wrote: if footy fans stopped behaving like morons this wouldn't happen - name anoter sport that get these problems - oh hang on there isn't one[/p][/quote]Unfortunately, you are right to a degree. A small minority act like morons and ruin it for the majority, a bot like society in general! I have watched football for over 50 years and have never engaged in any act of hooliganism, and I am sure I am not alone. Redrobbo
  • Score: 0

3:04pm Wed 16 Nov 11

RedArmy1 says...

Bubble or no bubble ...

We will all be there.

We go for a DOUBLE WIN.

WE DEMAND SUCCESS.

We are SOUTHAMPTON's RED ARMY and WE RULE THE SOUTH. COYR
Bubble or no bubble ... We will all be there. We go for a DOUBLE WIN. WE DEMAND SUCCESS. We are SOUTHAMPTON's RED ARMY and WE RULE THE SOUTH. COYR RedArmy1
  • Score: 0

11:10am Thu 17 Nov 11

St.Yorkie says...

The bubble has burst - it's not all about hooliganism is it? The police obviously want to control the people from Southampton going to Portsmouth. It's not a place I want to visit anyway!
I think they should re-name Portsmouth..."No Scummers Aloud" or perhaps "Skatesville"
The bubble has burst - it's not all about hooliganism is it? The police obviously want to control the people from Southampton going to Portsmouth. It's not a place I want to visit anyway! I think they should re-name Portsmouth..."No Scummers Aloud" or perhaps "Skatesville" St.Yorkie
  • Score: 0

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