What happened at the Derry City v Linfield game last night?
Reports of fairly serious crowd trouble following the Derry City v Linfield Setanta Cup clash emerged last night, but what exactly happened?
So there was more than just a football match last night?
Regrettably, yes. Although Derry City defeated Linfield 3-1 to advance to the semi-finals of the Setanta Cup, the game has since become more memorable for events surrounding what actually happened off the football field.
Angry confrontations, fan violence and numerous cases of vandalism it seems, with parties from both sides becoming involved. It has been claimed that Linfield fans attacked and smashed windows in a number of houses surrounding the Brandywell, while windows on at least one bus carrying Linfield fans were smashed and targeted by missiles.
Missiles were also thrown in the stands during the game, a segregating wall was damaged and one fan was arrested by the police for his role in the ugly affair.
It gets worse when you hear the personal testimonies of people who were there. Derry City director Tony O’Doherty said that fellow director Martin Mullan was forced to flee from angry Linfield fans, saying: "You could see Martin literally had to run for his life."
"It was a scandalous situation and one I never hope to see again at a football ground. I want to stress that was a number of Linfield fans, it was not all the Linfield fans.
"Some of the Linfield fans are going home on those buses absolutely disgusted."
Others still claimed that bricks and bottles filled with urine were thrown at residents in what was described by Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue as a “sectarian rampage”.
So it was all one side causing the trouble?
Not if further eyewitness accounts are to be believed. Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) leader and Linfield follower Billy Hutchinson was also in attendance and said: "Whenever we were coming out there were a number of people behind the PSNI riot squads chanting sectarian slogans and they attacked the buses with ballbearings and bricks.
"This one was hit and there was a pensioner sitting at the window who was very lucky he wasn't hit."
But trouble between those two wouldn’t exactly be anything new would it?
Unfortunately not, even though it must be said that the first leg encounter between the sides at Windsor Park earlier this month, which was attended by Martin McGuinness, passed off without a hitch.
The two sides have something of a colourful past relationship. With Linfield’s fan base being predominantly Protestant and of a Unionist slant and Derry’s being predominantly Catholic and Republican, relations between them have been strained over the years.
They went 36 years, from 1969 to 2005, without playing each other at all and with Derry competing in the League of Ireland since 1985, it is only in the fairly recent cross-border Setanta Cup (established 2005) that the rivalry has been renewed.
Wasn’t there some other trouble already this season in that competition?
Yep, not on the same scale as last night’s unpleasantness, but arguably even more disgusting. When Sligo Rovers played Glentoran in an earlier round at the Showgrounds, a Glentoran supporters bus was broken into, personal items were stolen and some idiot/idiots took a sh*t on the back seat.
God, it sounds like more trouble than it’s worth.
Well you said it, not us.