Unfortunately I don’t want to talk about a great performance at Barnsley and a frenzied game against Donny that could have gone either way. It’s what happened after the Oakwell match that warrants discussion.
After several recent high-profile and very public embarrassments I don’t know whether South Yorkshire Constabulary feels it has to cover every eventuality, however slight the possibility may be. The erection of siege barriers to prevent Blades fans walking towards the Ponty Road end was ridiculous and totally unnecessary. No doubt it was ‘for our own protection’, but in all the years I have been going to Barnsley I can count on one finger the number of times I have seen serious trouble near the ground. And that was in 1980.
Somebody decided it was a good idea to force 5,300 people through a five-metre wide gap between coaches and a fence, and then at the top of the car park have those same thousands of people battling for right of way with cars exiting the car park. But it was ‘for our own safety’.
After going round the houses (literally) we arrived in exactly the same spot on Ponty Road 20 minutes later than we would have had we been able to walk straight there. And for what? Good job it was a nice day and we’d won, because it’s this type of thing that antagonises people and is likely to cause trouble rather than prevent it.
It appears that the attitude of the local ‘Matchday Police Commander’ towards football supporters has not changed since April 15th 1989. We are, of course, all potential hooligans who need to be herded. Oh, and there were no Barnsley fans to fight even if we’d wanted to. They’d all gone home early.