City fans accuse police of derby misery

Norwich City fans who let the train take the strain before Sunday's local derby at Ipswich have accused police of making life needlessly difficult for them.

Norwich City fans who let the train take the strain before Sunday's local derby at Ipswich have accused police of making life needlessly difficult for them.

Hundreds of supporters thought they would be saving themselves a lot of hassle by using public transport to get to the game, which had an unusually early kick-off time of 11.30am.

But some of them ended up missing the early stages of the derby fixture, even though the two trains from Norwich to Ipswich arrived in good time for the match.

The decision of the police to delay the departure of City fans from Ipswich Station for around 25 minutes meant the supporters didn't arrive at the ground until around 11.25pm - and, with just two turnstiles to use, many took their seats when the action had already got under way.

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One of those caught up in the late rush was Roy Blower, chairman of Norwich City Independent Supporters Association, who will be making a formal complaint about the police tactics before the game - and also intends to take the matter up with the Canaries' Supporters' Consultative Group.

“We need to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again because it really was a totally unacceptable situation,” said Blower.

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“Our train arrived on time, but we were kept waiting for what seemed like eternity. When we were finally allowed out of the station I looked at my watch and it was 10.57. We were then marched down to the ground at a very slow pace - it felt like we were being herded around like cattle - and when we finally got there we were faced with a mad rush to get to our seats.

“We were just left to our own devices and with only two turnstiles our patience was wearing thin, to say the least. I got to my seat just before the game started - but I know a lot of people who didn't. They were understandably unhappy because they had arrived in Ipswich in good time for the game.”

NCISA colleague John Tilson was also critical of the tactics employed by the local constabulary.

“As a former police officer I can see both sides of the story. We all know some form of crowd control is necessary to prevent the possibility of trouble, but, in my opinion, the tactics used in Ipswich are too inflexible and need to be reviewed,” he said.

“The message on my ticket advised me to take my seat 30 minutes before kick-off but because we were held so long at the station that simply wasn't possible. A lot of people were getting angry and I can full understand why.”

It is understood that the delay was caused by a police desire to escort a large number of City fans down to the ground together. Around a thousand travelling supporters had been transported down to the station by a combination of train and coach and it was decided to wait for everyone to arrive before setting off to Portman Road.

The overall police operation was hailed as a success, with the game passing off without serious incident.

Chief Inspector Alan Caton of Ipswich Police commented: “The policing of the Ipswich v Norwich went very well and the fans from both sides, who already have a very good reputation, can be commended for their good behaviour. There were only a couple of minor incidents of disorder with two arrests and five ejections from the ground.”

A Norwich City spokesman added: "We take any concerns from our supporters very seriously and will be happy to pass that feedback on to the relevant groups."

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