Hundreds of police officers were drafted in to keep rival football fans apart at Sheffield Wednesday’s lunchtime derby with Leeds United today.
Around 400 officers were expected to be on duty for the Championship clash – the first time Leeds fans have been back at Hillsborough since some damaged seating on the terraces last season.
That fixture was also marred by Leeds fan Aaron Cawley, now 22, who invaded the pitch and slapped Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland in the face during the match.
It led to the Owls manager at the time, Dave Jones, branding Leeds fans as ‘vile animals’ and calling for them to be banned from away games because of their behaviour.
Superintendent Shaun Morley, responsible for the policing plan for today’s game, warned troublemakers to stay away.
He said fans with football banning orders would be arrested if spotted anywhere near the ground.
He said: “This is a local derby and there’s a long history of rivalry between the teams. Normally that rivalry is good-natured but unfortunately last year it spilled over into disorder and was highlighted by the idiotic behaviour of one individual who ran onto the pitch to assault the goalkeeper.
“Our intention is to deliver a safe environment for fans to enjoy the game – there is an early kick-off which will reduce alcohol becoming a factor in terms of the behaviour of fans, there will also be a distinctly increased visible police presence with approximately 400 officers on duty in the city centre, during the transitional phase when fans make their way to and from Hillsborough and in the ground itself.
“Those who want to cause or incite disorder or become involved in disorder need to realise that we have the capability to take action very quickly, effectively and robustly and it is likely that they will be arrested.”
Supt Morley said a large number of officers specially trained in public order incidents would be on duty and officers on horseback and with dogs would also be on standby.
He said the force could also call upon a police helicopter to monitor the football crowds from the air if needed.
Some 3,100 travelling Leeds fans were expected at today’s game.