Police chiefs today warned football hooligans who wreaked havoc in Rotherham that they will be tracked down and arrested.
Officers are trawling through CCTV footage to identify those involved in disturbances inside and outside Rotherham’s New York Stadium on Saturday, during which police officers and stewards were injured.
Millwall yobs attempted to invade the pitch after Rotherham scored an 85th minute winner and thugs then tried to reach fans in the family stand.
Violence also flared outside the stadium.
No arrests were made on the day of the trouble, but South Yorkshire Police has pledged to track down those involved.
CCTV cameras in and outside the ground are being examined as well as footage obtained by police ‘spotters’ who witnessed the scenes on the ground and captured yobs in action.
Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, Rotherham’s District Commander, said: “We have a team trawling through the CCTV. We also had spotters carrying cameras and they recorded footage too.
“We are confident we will identify those involved and when we do they will be dealt with through the criminal justice system.
“No matter what might have been said by opposition fans their actions were not acceptable. There is no place for that in football so we have to make sure they are identified and brought to justice.”
Rotherham fan Michael Frost, 29, a wheelchair user from Swinton, said he felt ‘intimidated’ by Millwall fans and some Rotherham supporters who became embroiled in the disorder.
A car which one of his disabled friends was due to be taken home in had its windscreen smashed outside the stadium.
“Those involved, whether Millwall or Rotherham fans, should never be allowed in New York Stadium ever again,” he said.
Neil Bowles, Chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said: “The hooliganism that erupted was despicable and criminal.
“Stewards and officers were injured, not seriously thankfully, but it could have been much worse.
“This was a relatively minor match with a crowd of 10,000, and the troublemakers only a tiny minority of those in attendance. Yet South Yorkshire Police could not cope normally with it.
“Rest days were cancelled, adding to the stress and pressure on our members, and we had to ask for assistance with public order trained officers from neighbouring forces.
“What’s going to happen to policing if we continue to cut officer numbers that we can not police a match like this in the normal way?”
Rotherham manager, Steve Evans, said: “Going on the footage, it’s the worst crowd trouble I’ve seen as a manager. It’s just not right, is it, especially when you see them go towards a family stand.
“We know the amount of kids in there and probably 40 per cent of them are under the age of 16.
“We don’t want one per cent of those young kids in that family area thinking that type of behaviour is what you should be allowed to do.
“I didn’t see it at the time. I’ve seen the footage since. I have to say it is a minority of Millwall fans. The majority behave as impeccably as anyone else does and they’re probably as disgusted as everyone in football is.
“To see footage of police and stewards with cut faces and stuff like that is just disgusting. That minority have to be weeded out and thrown out and not allowed near football.”
The football club behind the scenes does what it has to do. They’ve probably had several meetings with South Yorkshire Police. Looking at the footage, South Yorkshire Police and the stewards were absolutely fantastic and we’re humbled as staff and players that we get protected so vigorously.
A Rotherham United spokesman said: “In planning for this fixture Rotherham United FC worked very closely with representatives of South Yorkshire Police, the Metropolitan Police and Millwall FC to try and ensure that Saturday’s fixture passed peacefully.
“We were aware that a section of Millwall supporters were planning on attending this game intent on causing disorder.
“Contingency plans were in place to deal with this outcome with extra stewarding and police resources in place to deal with the anticipated threat. Despite the extra resources deployed this group made numerous attempts to seek disorder throughout the afternoon resulting in the despicable scenes towards the end of the match.
“Rotherham United are angered and upset at the unprecedented level of violent behaviour of some sections of the Millwall supporters inside and outside of the stadium. We are liaising closely with South Yorkshire Police to identify the individuals involved and our teams are already analysing all of our CCTV footage.
“We would like to acknowledge the work and bravery of South Yorkshire Police, our matchday stewards and the Stadium Safety Team who prevented a further escalation of a very serious situation.
“Further we apologise to the innocent supporters from both clubs who were caught up in the violence, the vast majority of whom were here to enjoy a game of football.
“Rotherham United will be in contact with Millwall FC today to seek assurances that everything possible will be done to ensure the so called fans involved in the incidents are brought to account.”
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