IN October 1999, I remember Brighton & Hove Albion running out at Peterborough’s London Road and some character let off an orange distress flare in the away end.
A number of things immediately struck me. 1) How did he get it into the ground, given even back then searches were in place? 2) How did he have the courage to hold the thing throughout? 3) How did nobody have to be treated for smoke inhalation? 4) How did we never get the RAF search and rescue helicopter turning up?
But on a serious note, the incident at Sunday’s Aston Villa and Tottenham game has highlighted the very real dangers of taking flares to football matches.
It’s not hype, these things are fatal weapons and far too many football fans around the world have been killed by them.
In February this year, a 14-year-old boy died after being struck by a flare in Bolivia, while here in the UK in 1993, Welsh grandfather John Hill was killed at the Wales and Romania game in a World Cup qualifier in Cardiff.
Earlier this year, two Chelsea fans were jailed for 28 days after being caught in possession of flares at the Blues’ cup tie at Swansea.
Last week, one young Albion fan also found himself ejected and is facing further reprisals after lighting one on the terrace at Yeovil.
Those who advocate the use of flares, apart from being with the pixies, say it is about creating atmosphere.
To misquote the legendary Russ Abbott, I love a game with an atmosphere... but not at the risk of mine, Harty junior or other fans’ lives.
When the Goldstone Ground used to get rocking, we didn’t need flares, and these deadly weapons have no place at football.
After 127 years, Worthing Football Club get their first taste of ‘international’ football this weekend with the visit to Guernsey in the Ryman South Division.
Much has been written about the Channel Island club and their quest to climb the football league pyramid, and they have almost had to jump through a number of hoops, including broadcasting matches back to the mainland.
After he was kicked out of the Albion, another one of the more unsavoury episodes in the club’s history, it was always the dream of the late Mike Bamber to bring league football to the Channel Islands, albeit Jersey, but sadly his terminal illness put paid to these ambitions.
I will be interested to see how their project is developing over there, with crowds into four figures most weeks, how long will it be before the Football League dream becomes a reality?
With Worthing overseas and the Albion not in action until Monday evening, even with a horrendous weather forecast the blank Saturday still throws up a number of possibilities – none more so than a live beam back to the Rebels Tavern at Woodside Road of Guernsey v Worthing, kick off at 1pm, with the bar open from 11am.
In the evening, a change of sports is on the agenda with Worthing’s fighting pride, our very own local pro boxer, James Child, fighting on the Scott Welch-promoted bill, alongside the likes of Lloyd Ellett, Marcus Eaton, Nick and Lee Jenman at the Metropole in Brighton.
James is still chasing that elusive first win in the paid ranks but goes into the contest in top condition.
Tickets start from £30 with ringside at £60. For tickets, contact James Child on 07818098499.