Seeing extra police drafted in for derby day soccer matches is nothing new for this time-served footie fan. But I’ve never quite heard of anti-graffiti police being put on patrol the night before a big game. This is sadly the case ahead of the Manchester derby this coming Sunday afternoon.
Having witnessed everything from running battles in the Wolverhampton streets on Black Country derby day to the intense, often hostile and intimidating cooker-pressure environment that is the Old Firm derby, seeing the streets lined or teeming with the boys in blue is nothing new.
By boys in blue, I mean the Met. Not Rangers fans as the only time they’ll be near an SPL ground this season, and the next few, is if they’re drawn away in the Cup. And obviously not any European Cup. But I digress.
Manchester derby has attracted obscene graffiti the last three years
Since Manchester City have rediscovered the upper echelons of The Premiership – and an owner with more money than scruples – nights ahead of the Manchester derby have taken on a whole new criminal element.
Obscene graffiti daubed on traditional United or City pub walls by opposing fans has served to stir up feeling, nay hatred, ahead of the next day’s Manchester derby. Whether at the Ethiad or Old Trafford makes no difference as both sets of fans are guilty as charged.
Last year, renowned Manchester United pub, The Bishop Blaize, was graffitied with “Munich”, “MCFC” & “the city is ours”. The latter two references you could say fair enough, but referring to the tragedy that saw some of the greatest English players to ever lace on a pair of boots lose their lives is just feckin’ sick.
City fans not only to blame for sick murals
But The Reds fans, you have to say, have perhaps brought it on themselves. The year before, Mary D’s pub directly opposite the Ethiad had “Foe” daubed on its walls ahead of one Manchester derby.
To the layman, that may just appear as ‘the enemy’, no greater than City’s ‘the city is ours’ comment. But when you recall that Marc-Vivien Foé collapsed and died of a heart-attack in 2003 whilst sporting a Man City shirt, the comment takes on an altogether sicker and more sinister undertone.
The same pub, Mary D’s, was also attacked in 2011, the words “MUFC” painted in red onto its walls. The opportunity ahead of the extra Manc derby in the cup in January obviously too much of a temptation for United fans.
Greater Manchester Police are taking no chances ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby, with both teams way out in front at the top of the English Premiership. United hold a slender 3-point advantage that could so easily be wiped out at the Ethiad come twenty-past three Sunday afternoon.
The original allocation for United was 2,700 tickets, but fears of unrest have seen police wishes granted and a further 200 seats will be left empty to increase segregation. There will also be 400 officers on duty, almost one for every six United fans lucky enough to get a ticket.
The Manchester derby is on SKY Sports One, but don’t believe the 15:00 kick-off time advertised on the SKY Sports website. It is definitely a 13:30 kick-off as advertised on the Official Barclays Premiership site.
The game was apparently brought forward from Saturday 8th at 15:00 at the request of SKY, but they have inadvertently forgot to change the time advertised. Dipsticks.
Have your say: Who’ll take all three points on Sunday? Can anyone prevent Manchester (City or United) from claiming the 2012/2013 Premiership Title?