JUST when we all thought football hooliganism was a thing of the past, it reared it ugly head.

The last thing English football needs is to drift back to the bad old days of the 1970s and ’80s, when the game was littered with violence at grounds across the country.

To be fair to everyone involved in the game, from the Football Association downwards, great strides have been made to eradicate hooliganism.

But I just hope one night of shame at Upton Park on Tuesday will not be repeated.

It could have disastrous consequences for England’s hopes of hosting the 2018 World Cup and has worried officials here in South Africa, who are expecting as many as 50,000 English fans during next summer’s World Cup.

Of course, Millwall and West Ham have a history of trouble and maybe security was lax on the night.

The extent of the violence came out of the blue but was still a disgrace to football.

Whoever is identified as rioting during the analysis of the CCTV footage should be banned for life.

The authorities have done a lot of hard work to reduce football-related violence and a thorough investigation is absolutely necessary to encourage the progress that has been made.

We cannot allow a return to the dark days when parents were too scared to take their children to matches.