Opinion: fighting Port Vale fans should be banned for life

Opinion: fighting Port Vale fans should be banned for life

Columnist Malcolm Hirst says there are simply no excuses for the fans hell-bent on violence at the Grimsby Town match…

Malcolm Hirst writes…

I hope those involved can be identified from CCTV in the ground and the police videos, and that they will be banned by Port Vale for life. Sadly, this kind of behaviour is an ongoing problem for Vale and needs to be tackled…

Following Port Vale has been a rollercoaster ride for the last few years. Little did I think that I could go from the heights of the Fans’ Forum on Thursday evening to the depths of shame of Saturday afternoon.

It was great to welcome representatives of ‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Fans for Diversity’ to Vale Park for the Fans’ Forum. Despite initially feeling disappointed with the low numbers who attend a meeting that also included the presence of Neil Aspin and John Rudge, I came away feeling positive.

The engagement of the those present with the difficult topics of racism and diversity made me proud to be a Vale fan and gave me hope for the future. It may take a while, and may need many small steps, but I believe we can build a welcoming and diverse fan base. I heard plenty of positive feedback from the evening. My thanks go to Anwar Uddin and Paul Mortimer for their input in the evening, and to Ally Simcock for organising the evening. It will be wonderful to build on this positive start.

What a contrast it was only twenty hours later when individuals from Stoke-on-Trent and Grimsby ran towards each other intent on causing trouble and bringing shame, and probably fines, on both clubs. I use the word ‘individuals’ purposefully. Let’s be clear the individuals involved in this trouble on Saturday are not football fans. I’ve seen them described in several ways on social media. The words and phrases used have been; absolute scum, hooligans, 70’s and 80’s mentality, thugs and yobs.

I hope those involved can be identified from CCTV in the ground and the police videos, and that they will be banned by Port Vale for life. Sadly, this kind of behaviour is an ongoing problem for Vale and needs to be tackled. I know people who will not go to certain away games that are likely to be targeted by the above individuals. I am uncomfortable with the idea of an ‘identity scheme’ for away matches. However, after Saturday, I am beginning to think I would be willing to sacrifice that principle in order to build a better Port Vale.

@nlvmalc

This column represents the columnist’s personal views and not necessarily those of the Port Vale Supporters Club.

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