Football has moved on a lot since the dark, depressing days of the 1980s. Back then, fans were caged in at grounds behind huge metal fences – treated like wild animals, in a way.
There was one obvious reason for that. At times, many people who latched themselves onto football clubs behaved like wild animals. Three decades ago, football hooliganism was still a hot topic in society, a scar on the face of Pele’s beautiful game.
This newspaper carried many stories throughout the 80s regarding Pompey FC hooligans. Thankfully, apart from the infamous riot after a home game with Southampton in March 2004, such stories have mercifully been thin on the ground since the turn of the millennium.
However, as we report today, there are still pockets of Portsmouth area society who, given the chance, would happily fight rival football supporters.
The end result of lengthy running battles with police and clashes with Plymouth fans in April 2017 yesterday resulted in eight Pompey supporters being sent to prison for more than 10 years in total.
Judge Timothy Mousley QC took a dim view of the ‘prolonged’ and ‘premeditated’ violence that was a ‘throwback’ to the dark days of the ’80s, and indeed the decade before that.
The judge was right to take that view. And the fact eight people are today behind bars sends a powerful message to any potential football hooligans that their anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.
That is a message which will be heard by anyone thinking of taking part in trouble. They would do well to listen to it.
Portsmouth FC have started this season well, and could next year be back in the second tier of English football. There is a feelgood factor around Fratton Park, and Judge Mousley’s sentences have hopefully ensured that the only headlines the club’s fans write from now on are positive ones.