BLOG – Chester 1-1 FC Halifax Town. Post Match Thoughts

Some matches don’t have an obvious talking point. This match was not one of those matches. Of course, as a match did occur I’ll talk about that first, before moving on to the rather huge elephant in the room.

Two wonder strikes meant that honours were even on the pitch (if not off it) in this FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round match. A replay is scheduled for next Tuesday at the Shay, with the Chester B&Q ordering in extra safety helmets especially for the trip. The match was also even in the ‘ridiculous red card’ department, making it one of the more memorable matches in recent years at the Exacta/Deva Stadium. Here’s some stuff that occurred to me during and after the match.

1) Defenders

We need some. We ended the match with one recognised defender on the pitch. Baynes, McGinn and Linwood are all doubtful for Tuesday, Denson is cup-tied, but apparently Horan’s ban won’t kick in for a little while meaning we’ll have Clancy at left back and probably Hankin at right back. I’m worried. All the midfielders did well filling in, but I don’t like any player playing 90 minutes completely out of position against a quality side like Halifax.

2) Referee

Possibly the worst referee ever seen at the Exacta. He was inconsistent with the fouls he gave, bias towards Halifax (I use that term very carefully) and gave out two of the stupidest red cards ever seen. Neither Horan or the Halifax striker deserved to be sent off for what was essentially a rather passionate embrace. Paul Linwood tweeted that the referee’s assessor was in the crowd, so expect that berk to be refereeing in the Premier League shortly where he can’t do any harm.

3) Goals

Bloody hellfire they were good weren’t they? Sarcevic’s was wonderfully placed over Glennon whilst the Halifax player’s strike was drilled pin-point into the top corner. Both wonderful examples of how to shoot from long range. If I had to choose a favourite I’d have to go for the Halifax goal (sorry Sarc!)

4) The elephant in the room

Firstly, I want to point this out: VIOLENCE AT FOOTBALL MATCHES IS WRONG. Unfortunately though, it did happen so what should we make of it?

Well, clearly it was a small contingent from Halifax who were extremely intent on causing trouble. After five minutes of the match a group of about 6 people crossed the pitch (an arrestable offense) towards the Harry McNally terrace and proceeded to gesture and shout at the Chester fans, before trying to punch those closest to them. From where I was it looked like there were no police present at that point and that there were not many stewards in the area. After a minute or two the Halifax fans were herded back towards their end and let back into the away stand.

Clearly, this should not have happened. All of the Halifax fans who entered the pitch did so in order to cause trouble and should have been arrested for the arrestable offense of entering the field of play (I’m not sure about the proper title). However, there did not seem to be any police in the ground and the growing number of stewards in the area probably did not want to disrupt the match any more. Hopefully there is enough video evidence to identify and prosecute those involved.

The second incident happened very close to where I was sitting in the East Stand. After about half an hour of the match had been played there was a commotion to my left and it appeared that there was a fight in the stand. There were two men who subsequently jumped over the wall onto the pitch and continued to goad the Chester fans in H Block. I am completely certain that these two men were Halifax fans who had either snuck round the stadium to cause trouble, or who had originally entered the ground via the South Stand or East Stand and decided to cause trouble after a while. The two men appeared to be arrested and were escorted to the holding bay in the East Stand (which is next to the food kiosk and where fans are let out from at full time). One of the men later ran back up from the holding bay and attempted to start a fight, but was quickly subdued.

For this second incident there were police in the ground and the scuffle was quickly separated. However, the two men involved should have been taken straight to the police station. Again I hope there is enough video evidence to prosecute the two men.

As you can see, both of the incidents were started by a contingent from Halifax. The board of Halifax did warn us before the game that they had a trouble making few, but in my view there was not enough done to stop the violence before it happened. There should have been more stewards in between the two sets of fans at kick-off and there should have also been a visible police presence at kick-off too. Unfortunately though, there is sometimes little that can be done to stop really determined people from this kind of behaviour. For example, I doubt that any of the measures I recommend would have stopped the second incident from occurring (although perhaps it wouldn’t have happened if the first incident didn’t happen).

What both clubs, and indeed football in general, can do is try to get to the bottom of this kind of behaviour. There’s no use in labeling these people as ‘mindless’ or saying that they aren’t really fans, because that only serves to de-humanise them, to make it seem as though they aren’t a problem that anything can be done about. Short term these people will have to be banned and there will have to be a (expensive of course) police presence at Halifax matches. What needs to be looked at in the long term however, are the socioeconomic reasons for their behaviour, for their mindset that violence in football is ok. Only once we understand why people do this kind of thing will the footballing community be able to combat it properly. This combat however, should be in productive ways. Inevitably the reasons for this behaviour will lie in a lack of opportunities, the person’s up bringing and so on. Football is not to blame for these problems, but it is left to deal with them. The government needs to take these problems as social problems, not football problems, and apply itself to changing these people’s attitudes. Football can help. That’s the whole reason that most clubs have a community section, but it cannot be left to deal with it alone, or be left to foot an ever increasing policing bill (which will only lead to resentment amongst clubs).

That concludes the blog for today. I hope my rather rushed points make sense. I am happy to expand and illuminate them below, just comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, remember that there was a football match on today, and it wasn’t too bad either. We have another tough game on Tuesday, as Chester fans we should concentrate on showing Halifax exactly how to support their football team: peace, love and out-singing the opposition!

Richard Bellis

About Richard Bellis

Richard is a masters student at UCL who studies the History and Philosophy of Science. He graduated in Philosophy from the University of Leeds. His first Chester game was the promotion winning match against Scarborough in 2004, which he watched on top of a van outside the stadium. He has written for various websites including When Saturday Comes, In Bed With Maradona and The Two Unfortunates.

5 Responses to “BLOG – Chester 1-1 FC Halifax Town. Post Match Thoughts”

  1. Aide October 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    Great little blog about the game really.

    ‘We have another tough game on Tuesday, as Chester fans we should concentrate on showing Halifax exactly how to support their football team: peace, love and out-singing the opposition!’

    Bit harsh on the couple of hundred who made the journey and dint participate in any of the violence at all. Not sure how we could have ‘supported are team’ more than what we did.

    It was well known that 2 lots of coaches were coming to Chester, with many people who are banned from The Shay onboard. Im fairly sure your club knew about this, or atleast that these lot were expected, should have been more than a dozen stewards who would obviously be out of there depth.

    Lastly, the lads didnt go upto the stand and start punching the nearest people, they started punching the ones who came forward to them. Obviously the Chester lads took offense to the Halifax lot coming over, and so they should, and started throwing punches both ways. The Halifax lot werent just punching the nearest people in sight, only the ones who were ‘up for it’.

    And cant believe you thought the ref was on our side!!!!

    • Richard Bellis
      Richard Bellis October 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

      Cheers for the comment Aide.

      I agree I am being a little bit harsh on the majority of Halifax fans who are perfectly able to travel to a football match without feeling the need to punch someone, but I’m sure you can understand why I focused on the minority though.

      Now, you say ‘it was well known’ that banned people were travelling. In that case 1) why didn’t Halifax stop these people from travelling (as far as is possible) 2) as you and I have both identified why wasn’t the Chester stewarding/police presence adequate?

      Also, I’m confused as to why these people are banned from the Shay and not subject to a general football banning order. Surely this would sort the problem of these people travelling to away matches out?

      As for the details of the Harry Mac violence, I was the other side of the pitch. I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible with my recounting of events, but obviously I might not be completely correct. What I would say though is that it is patently obvious that this was instigated by the Halifax lot.

      And the ref was definitely on your side!

  2. Mike Morley October 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    Let’s be fair Rich these were 40+ year old thugs not young kids so your “socio-economic” mumbo jumbo really doesn’t wash! Short sharp shock is what is required but sadly no longer available in our wishy-washy justice system that sees perpetrators as victims and victims who defend themselves as criminals.

    The lack of action by both clubs to keep these troublemakers out of the ground is simply inexcusable in the light of the pre-match intelligence that made it quite evident that there were a number of louts intent on disrupting the game today.

    I didn’t think I’d see a worse referee this season than the clown on Tuesday night but was proved wrong this afternoon! Sorry Aide but he had the black shorts and socks and all he needed was a red shirt to be your twelth man.

    • Richard Bellis
      Richard Bellis October 6, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

      Cheers for the comment Mike.

      I think the ‘mumbo jumbo’ certainly does wash. Yes these blokes were 40ish, but that doesn’t exclude them from the effects of their social and economic backgrounds. If anything that makes them even more effected by it. What I mean to say when suggesting that we look at why these people are being violent, is in part to look for a long term solution. Something that is much more permanent than applying the electrodes to the genitalia (or not potentially!).

      Again, I agree with your comments that not enough was done by both clubs to stop this incident from occurring in the first place. And that the referee was a clown!

  3. Mark October 7, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    Why do I get the feeling that Halifax seem to be trying to wash their hands of the situation. If these known trouble makers are banned from the Shay only and not from all football stadia, then surely there is not much that any other club can do. If it was well known that they were attending then the police should have been present inside the stadium before kickoff. Chester often take their own stewards to away games, so why didn’t Halifax do that to help identify the culprits.

    The incident in front of the Harry Mc involved more than 6 Halifax fans, more like 15-20 although there may have actually been 1 or 2 of their older fans trying to help get them back to the West Stand.

    A harsh lesson learnt by both clubs, I feel.

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