FOOTBALL BATTLEGROUND; How Streets of Coventry Erupted in Violence

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), April 7, 2009 | Go to article overview

FOOTBALL BATTLEGROUND; How Streets of Coventry Erupted in Violence


Byline: Emma Stone

THESE exclusive images show for the first time how mob violence exploded on the streets of Coventry when rival gangs of soccer yobs clashed.

The CCTV images of Coventry football hooligans clashing with Leicester fans, in Earlsdon, have been released by West Midlands Police to the Telegraph after the last of the supporters appeared before the courts.

Up to 100 men were seen chanting, fighting and throwing missiles at each other, as the rival gangs clashed in Earlsdon Avenue South on February 23 last year.

The violent crowd armed themselves with pool cues and balls and road signs, as they squared up to each other, forcing innocent bystanders to flee into shops and a nearby church.

A city mother also told police how she pulled her two young children to safety behind a parked car to escape the baying mob of football hooligans on the rampage.

The young family were forced to watch on in horror as Coventry and Leicester fans fought just yards away from them.

The hooligans clashed for four and a half minutes before they were tackled by riot police arriving on the scene.

Police based at Chace Avenue police station in Willenhall launched Operation Net News - which resulted in the largest number of people ever convicted in the city for one incident of football-related violence.

The police investigation led to 36 people, including four juveniles, being put before the courts. The final three appeared at Coventry Crown Court on Friday to plead guilty to their involvement in the violence.

Detective Constable Paul Parnum, based at Chace Avenue police station, spent 23 weeks trawling CCTV footage of the violent clash and soon the day's events became clear to the investigating officers.

Captured by the 24 cameras inside the City Arms pub, Leicester City supporters were seen arriving from 9.55am.

Meanwhile a contingent of Coventry fans began congregating at the Spencer Sports and Social Club in Albany Road, just yards away.

By the time two police officers entered the City Arms on routine patrols, just before 11.30am, there were already a large number of Leicester fans inside the pub.

Detective Sergeant Stu Grundy, of Chace Avenue police station, said: "There was a uniformed sergeant on football spotting duties. He is doing his rounds at various licensed premises. At one location in Earlsdon he saw the Coventry supporters. His next port of call was the City Arms.

"When he went in there he saw 80 faces he doesn't recognise..

He came out of the pub and got on the radio but the 80-strong crowd follow him outside." The men were then captured on camera using their mobile phones. It is believed they were contacting the Coventry mob and telling them they have been noticed by the police, and the clash needed to happen right away. They are then seen putting on hats and scarves before leaving the pub.

Soon after the Leicester men are seen filing out of the pub, while the Coventry mob are seen walking along Albany Road and through the Earlsdon back streets towards the City Arms, prompting numerous calls to 999 from nearby residents. …

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