MARTIN SMITH COLUMN: Sheffield United fans provoked? Forget it. There’s no excuse for fan violence

Violence at the Riverside Stadium. Picture: PA
Violence at the Riverside Stadium. Picture: PA
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It was the referee’s fault for disallowing Sheffield United’s injury-time equaliser.

It was the police’s fault, they were heavy-handed outside the Riverside Stadium after the game on Saturday.

It was the Middlesbrough fans’ fault for gloating after Jack O’Connell’s last-gasp goal was disallowed.

No, it wasn’t.

It was YOUR fault.

YOUR fault if you were spitting at kids, YOUR fault if you ran between cars punching people and YOUR fault if you threw stones and coins at opposing fans - even if they threw them at you first.

A key thing to remember is - and if you were one of the above you might want to read this twice and very slowly: When things go wrong in life, don’t hit people.

If you can’t stand your team having an injury-time equaliser disallowed and opposing fans rubbing it in then don’t go to football matches because disappointment, anger and hurt are all part of the experience.

But fighting can’t be.

Not even for those like-minded individuals who go looking for each other to scrap.

Some people just like fighting and are ready to go at it whenever they can, especially at football matches where tribe meets tribe.

All clubs have them and have had since the 1880s when football ‘roughs’ would occasionally beat up referees and opposing players as well as fans.

They were a curse then and they’re a curse now.

Social media footage - you’re not going to get away with it any more lads - shows spitting, punching and kicking outside the ground with kids and older people running to get out of the way - though it’s difficult to tell who belongs to which side.

But the violent are a stain on the sport and our social lives and they will always rooted out and banned.

And good riddance.


On a more wholesome note the continuing pain and struggles of Jessica Ennis-Hill’s sporting successor only serve to emphasise the astonishing levels of Jess’s career achievements.

Katarina Johnson Thompson is a fine athlete and for the last two years of Ennis’s career KJT was gaining fast on our Heptathlon gold medallist.

But it’s not really happened for her since.

The fact that the Liverpool athlete has not been able to fully fill Jess’s golden spikes is perhaps less a reflection on her abilities than it is of the 2012 Olympic champions’s own phenomenally high standards.

Jessica Ennis-Hill was and is pure class.

That kind of quality doesn’t come around too often.