Children 'targeted' in Middlesbrough post-match brawl

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Media caption,

The fight started after Middlesbrough beat Sheffield United at home

Children were "targeted" in a post-match brawl which broke out between more than 200 football fans in a coach park, a police chief has said.

Trouble flared in Riverside Stadium car park after the Middlesbrough v Sheffield United game on Saturday.

Children as young as 10 were hurt in the violence, which also left one Cleveland Police officer in hospital.

Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin said it was one of the worst incidents he had seen in 25 years of service.

Mr Harwin said the majority of those involved were from Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

"The vast majority of fans accept that football is a family game, watched by children, parents and grandparents," he added.

"It's terrifying for children to witness such violence, or be innocently embroiled in it as their parents frantically try to keep them safe.

"Unfortunately a small minority of people behave in a manner which puts innocent fans at risk."

Richard Ball, 47, of Manor Oaks Road in Sheffield, has been charged with a public order offence and will appear at Teesside Magistrates' Court on 8 September.

Two men were cautioned for pitch invasion, and two more arrested on suspicion of affray were released under investigation.

Image caption,
Boro fan Chris Davey said he had never seen anything like in 50 years of going to football games

Boro fan Chris Davey was with his wife in a coach which was among several vehicles that were attacked.

He described it as "mayhem" and said it was reminiscent of the old days of hooliganism.

"I don't think that even in the bad days I saw anything like that, so close at hand, and felt quite as threatened as I did.

"The majority of people who were coming past were families, parents with one or two kids with them and it was just shocking to see the kids in tears because they were so frightened."

'Threatening behaviour'

Middlesbrough FC won the Championship game 1-0.

The club has released a statement saying it "deplored" the behaviour of those involved, and would do its utmost to ensure they were identified.

It said: "We pride ourselves on being a family club, and there is absolutely no place for the incidents of violence and threatening behaviour that occurred both inside the stadium and also in the coach and car park areas after the game.

"We are also meeting with a number of supporters today, who were unwittingly caught up in the disturbances outside, and we shall be seeking their views on the scenes that occurred."

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