Returning to the Scene of the Shame

If the UEFA champion’s league draw is fixed then I think it is fair to say that the Great Manchester Police aren’t in on it.

That night in May 2008 some of their number thought that their number was up as packs of feral Rangers supporters kicked and clawed at them on the ground.

Asbo FC was in town.

If any social policy analyst or politician was in doubt that Glasgow had spawned a dangerous underclass then viewing the CCTV images from central Manchester put those questions to bed.

This pageant to British dignity and the Dunkirk spirit ended up with PC Mike Regan on the ground being battered and stamped on.

Thankfully he escaped.

Now for the rematch.

The opening match of Group C game on 14th September 2010 will see Rangers travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.

Only the most deluded Rangers supporters can think that the people of Manchester and those entrusted with maintaining the Queen’s peace there will be pleased to see them.

The 5,000 ticketed fans will, no doubt, be closely trailed, surveilled and herded to and from Old Trafford.

The operation to render thousands of Rangers fans harmless will resemble a military operation.

I’m sure if the GMP had their way there would be more draconian measures employed. However some responses are not available in a democracy.

No matter what transpires on September 14th in Manchester the reportage will be markedly different in Scotland than in the rest of Britain.

On the night of the riots in 2008 one news journalist sent there by a major Scottish title was on the spot.

He called in copy as the riot was in full flow.

He was disbelieved by the news desk in Glasgow.

The voice at the end of the phone in Glasgow challenged him that he was “exaggerating”.

He told them he was witnessing a riot between Rangers fans and the police.

He filed thousands of words of copy over the phone to a copytaker.

None of it was published.

Only when the CCTV footage became available the next day was it undeniable. Some of the Rangers fans in the city of Manchester had rioted. Several police officers had been beaten and at least two were lucky to escape serious injury.

The London based titles reported the riot for what it was, a riot.

Rangers fans rioted. They destroyed property, attacked police officers and shamed their club.

Does this look like a riot to you?

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British Prime Minister called the scenes “ a disgrace”.

The Scottish titles went into the defence attorney mode.

The spinning the next day was relentless and ridiculous.

It was Chelsea fans, only a few fans involved; it was because the big screens failed.

The police were “heavy handed”.

The subsequent arrests following the CCTV footage on Crime Watch have all been in Scotland.

The official report on the riots said that public disorder broke out BEFORE the match.

Anyone viewing the scenes of disorder would not have been surprised if the GMP had used baton rounds.

Manchester 2008 was yet another nasty chapter of crowd violence associated with the Ibrox club.

Now they are to return to the scene of the shame.

This time, hopefully, it will be different.

Perhaps this time they can all behave.

They do, after all, profess a love for Britain.

If only 5,000 (those with tickets) travel then the numbers will be more manageable for the police.

However the 5,000 will still be Rangers supporters and as the denizens of Pamplona, Barcelona, Vila-real and Manchester can testify that often means trouble.

These people who think they are “the people” are, as the GMP stated earlier this year, “the least desirable.”

They really really are.

On September 14th they return to the scene of the shame.

I’m supporting the police.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion