By Matt Buckler
England’s sojourn to France for the European Championships has scarcely begun and already it is marred by reports of trouble, violence and injury. For three days, England fans and French Police have been in a standoff involving topless English fools, probably many uses of the word ‘cunt’ and tear gas. While violence in the stadium after their game with Russia is clearly not a one sided affair, with Russian fans complicit at best and at worst outright wholly responsible. However, that does not excuse the rest of the violence that has been reported so far as being mainly England fans.
Unless of course you ask Ray Bannister of the ‘England Definitely Not Thugs Supporters Group’, a tall tattooed man in his forties who we interviewed as he supped a pint. Finishing the dregs, he threw the glass at a passing French infant who was taken to hospital.
“Nah, we’re definitely no trouble, mate. What it is, right, is we get passionate. We love our football.” He says, icing his swollen knuckles with a bag of petis pois from the local Carrefour. “Of course, Europe’s police discriminate against us because of the media always painting us as hooligans. All it takes is one fella to start shouting ‘England til I die’ and journos sweep down like vultures to try and paint a picture of us as this unruly militant fan army out to cause trouble.”
What of the horrible scenes in Marseille which saw English fans tear gassed by French police?
“What happened, right, was we was sitting quietly have a few pints of the local piss, right. Then some fellas coming along giving it all that. We couldn’t leave them be, so a few of our boys went and politely asked them to stop causing grief. But these fellas, they’re dumb, right? They can’t speak, so they communicate with their hands, like a sign language, and one of those signs involves putting your fist to the other person’s face like this…” Ray put his fist to my face, it was not a pleasant experience, a bit like having a bony steak rested on your cheek, “only he did it a bit swift, like, and knocked the fucker out. So more of their group started getting involved and so we had to give it back because you know, we had to protect ourselves, you see. So you see, it was all a misunderstanding.”
There are also concerns regarding the security at the England v Russia game which ended 1-1. After full time, there are reports an explosion was heard and Russian fans permeated the separating barriers to rush at England fans, most of whom appeared to just want to escape trouble. Following recent terrorist attacks in the country, security and policing was thought to have been tight, but there seemed a distinct lack of control and security during these events. French police have yet to release an official statement, but we spoke to one chief off the record.
“Well, fuck them.” Said Jacques – name changed for anonymity, “We’ve got limited resources and need to ensure they are deployed correctly so we assessed security and where it is needed and thought if terrorists are to blow anyone up let it be le rosbifs. We knew they’d come over here with a cock-of-the-walk attitude and a penchant for trouble so we just sent a few of our grumpiest police and that’s it.”
One thing is for sure, with scenes reminiscent of the worst days of footballing violence the French authorities, UEFA and the FA are going to have to come together to ensure that those innocent fans, the normal every day people, some with children, are protected from what can only be described as cretinous dickheads, like Ray Bannister.
OW! Fuck off Ray. That hurt. You broke my nose, you prick! Right that’s it! LET’S HAVE IT!
Matt Buckler was later arrested by French Police, Ray Bannister is in hospital with serious injuries, and England drew their opening game. So a disappointment for everyone really.