Sheffield Wednesday fan column: The idea supporters are guilty before a ball is kicked is no helping derby day policing
It’s over for another season, no more Sheffield derbies.
The Owls’ did well to contain The Blades, we stubbed out their attacking threats and the defence, especially Liam Palmer again, were solid.
Yes, it was turgid but the result was fair and that’s all I’m going to say on the actual match because I’d like to address what happened after the game.
If you go with the intent of causing trouble, you are the reason the Sheffield derby is over-policed.
There is a caveat though in that over policing causes the atmosphere to change. The kettling, the riot shields, the strident use of batons, fans have been proven guilty before a ball is kicked.
This approach, in turn, causes aggression within the supporters. If you treat fans like cattle and not humans to be conversed with, then it’s hardly surprising that it gets people’s backs up. The majority of supporters want to enjoy the game and get in and out safely.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for the police; the increased police presence increases the ill feeling, there’s more trouble because of it and more officers are deployed at the next derby.
I hope that the review South Yorkshire Police conduct involves both clubs and the Football Supporter’s Federation because there has to be a better way than this. The Sheffield derby is the most expensive in the country to police and question needs asking as to why.
In times where violent crime is rising, this money being spent on football policing could be diverted to where it is needed if a more harmonious solution is applied to these fixtures.
Other cities and towns manage this with their derbies. It’s time we did too.
On a happier note, Steve Bruce has been nominated for Championship manager of the month for his unbeaten start to his Wednesday career. I think we can all agree the recognition is fully deserved.
If it helps only one manager this season has lost their following match after being bequeathed the cursed award. The majority have won the next fixture. Fingers crossed.