FOOTBALL thuggery came to the streets of Hampshire yesterday as violence marred the south coast derby.

Riot scenes were witnessed around the Fratton Park stadium as Portsmouth fans staged running street battles with police.

Six officers on horseback were forced to repeatedly charge at groups of yobs before and after the tense match.

They were met with a bombardment of bricks, fencing and bottles as a residential part of Portsmouth was turned into a riot zone.

Violent hooligans fought running battles in residential Goldsmith Avenue before and after the match, demolishing garden walls and fencing to use as weapons against the police.

They were forced to flee as mounted officers, recruited from neighbouring Thames Valley police, backed up by riot police brandishing shields and batons, charged and inch by inch gained control of the road.

With the Hampshire police spotter plane circling above the scene the rioting mob rampaged over cars and vans, smashing shop windows and trashing four police vehicles parked on a petrol station forecourt.

Ring leaders urged the baying mob, which included women and children as young as seven, to stand their ground despite facing mounted police galloping towards them at full charge.

Several people were injured as a result of the violence including one man who was taken to hospital after he was struck by a coin on the head. Two police dogs were also injured.

Despite the riotous scenes police only made eight arrests during the largest policing operation ever staged in the city.

It took more than an hour for some 2,000 Southampton fans, who were among the 20,000 all-ticket crowd, to be safely escorted back to their waiting coaches and the train station.

They had been kept penned in the stadium after watching their side lose the Premiership match 1-0, while riot police tried to disperse the mob of hundreds of Portsmouth fans outside.

Assistant Chief Constable and special operations officer for Hampshire Constabulary Colin Smith branded the violent scenes pure irresponsibility.

"This was a sad day for Hampshire and a sad day for Portsmouth. I would say it was a minority but, nevertheless, there was certainly a group of thugs who did not disperse after the match and who were clearly intent on confrontation.

"However, I don't think we expected this level of violence."

Pubs in the area continued to serve supporters right up until kick-off, ignoring police advice to close early. However, they enforced a strict door policy and remained closed during the match itself.

The hostile reception began as soon as the delayed train carrying hundreds of Saints fans arrived at Fratton station. They were herded into large groups and surrounded by riot police brandishing batons in a bid to keep them apart from Portsmouth fans and escort them to the stadium.

Southampton fan Brain Callum, 29, of Napier Road, Southampton vowed not to take his ten-year-old son Richard to Portsmouth matches ever again.

He said: "The Portsmouth fans were really looking for trouble. It was scary when they threw bricks and planks at us. It's a football match and this behaviour is totally unacceptable."

Risk assessor Nigel Weston, 42, of Hinton Road, Southampton, praised the police for keeping fans safe. He said: "The police did a marvellous job. They had it really well planned and I didn't see any Saints fans get into trouble. The police really put themselves in danger to keep us safe.

Builder Steve Darley, 29, of Botley Road, Eastleigh, said he was disappointed to have missed the first half an hour after police penned fans back.

He said: "I can see why they did because there were some ugly scenes. But it would have been nice if they had put kick-off back even a quarter of an hour."

Chief Superintendent Dan Clacher praised the conduct of the 400 officers involved in the operation and revealed that more arrests were expected after many of the violent troublemakers had been caught on camera.


The violence outside Fratton Park was the worst seen in the three derby clashes between Saints and Pompey this season.

Sixteen fans were arrested when the two sides met at Southampton's St Mary's stadium in the Carling Cup clash in December.

Five fans were also ejected from St Mary's that night that also saw 200 Pompey fans charging up St Mary Street in the city.

However, no serious damage was done to property and no injuries were reported.

Even fewer arrests were made when the teams met two weeks later in the league. Just three arrests were made on December 21 when Southampton beat Portsmouth 3-0.