Violence, violence everywhere

Violence, violence everywhere

It was Stone Valiant’s ovf Forum post (8.22pm 11th September) where he stated… “My second moment of disgust was seeing a bunch of youths amongst the police having a laugh about it.”…that prompted Barry to put fingers to keyboard.

Violence, Violence Everywhere
On a day when the West was remembering the terrorism of 9/11 followed by a week of further terrorist carnage of innocent men, women and children in Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel and Indonesia one could be forgiven for thinking that a gang attack on several Huddersfield football supporters on the streets of the Hamil fades into insignificance.

Don’t get me wrong because this is not an attempt to compare one with the other. The use of terrorism is designed to systematically dominate, coerce, subdue and humiliate by intimidation whether used by extremists throughout the world, gangs on the streets of suburbia, or bullies in the school yard. It goes without saying that our vigilance to stamping out both terrorism and violence must never wane because to do nothing about it simply reinforces such behaviour.

The difference between the events in Russia and elsewhere to those of gangs on the streets and bullies in schoolyards is plain: global terrorists will use whatever techniques and tactics needed to complete their assignments – including the ultimate price of laying down their lives in order to so; street gangs and bullies hit and run and would be the first to squeal when caught.

As a Juvenile Justice Officer yours truly has seen time and again the ghastly physical and emotional trauma suffered by young and old alike at the hands of marauding gangs of almost feral youth who set out with the sole purpose to terrorise the community and cause wanton destruction before running away like thieves in the night. Later when caught they would squeal on each other, or say they were forced by the group’s bully to join in ‘or else’. They would nearly always say that at no time did they laugh at the misfortunes of their victims.

When facing the Children’s Court the ‘Prosecution Sergeant would outline every gory detail of their despicable and cowardly behaviour whilst the ‘Defence Counsel would promote broken homes, substance abuse, little or no education, lack of employment and so on. The adversarial nature of this approach gives the ‘Defence a head start and before you know it many of the offenders are back on the streets laughing, yes laughing at the justice system too.

Look, I know it’s not a perfect world and I’ll be one of the first to put up my hand in saying that the continuing alienation of many of today’s youth from education and employment serves only to increase their collective frustration and hopelessness making tomorrow’s world less stable than previous. Yes I know – a chilling prospect indeed.

Where was I? Oh yes, the gang attack on the Huddersfield supporters.

My, how times have changed from the days of my youth. When standing in the Hamil Road End with my mates it was neither by chance nor coincidence that some of our dads were also standing in the Hamil Road End and even though there was no requirement for us to stand near them it was not an opportunity for us to ‘act daft’. Our behaviour was on show at all times, even though our dads pretended otherwise, with misdemeanours being dealt with later at home.

We would often applaud the goals scored by the opposition and looked forward to our near neighbours Stoke City coming to Vale Park to play friendly games against us. They were in the old 1st Division back then and all games played ended in draws. Stoke City’s generous gesture was always appreciated.

As for violence on the terraces: there was one game where several ‘Vale followers got verbally carried away resulting in our dads calling for us to stand with them and away from the ‘silly sods’ – as it was put. So there I was, standing with my dad when the last three goals went past Stockport County, a game we won 7-0.

It’s confession time. Yes it is. I was a passenger on a train from Burslem to Hanley when wanton football vandalism brought disgrace upon its cargo of youthful Valiants. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but before anyone could do anything to stop the behaviour two light globes had been carefully removed from the carriage bayonets and thrown out of the window onto the rail tracks. Several of the adults in the carriage chastened us and expressed their collective hope that our parents would find out and deal with us accordingly. Also, with our several apologies falling on deaf ears, we were reminded that when wearing the ‘black and white’ we had a responsibility to uphold the good name of the Port Vale Football Club.

It goes without saying that word of the incident filtered through to our respective parents. My dad expressed his disappointed for my being caught up in the episode. But my mum’s silent displeasure stung the most. Later, I was quietly reminded by her that it was unbecoming to behave ‘like some of those Stoke City supporters’.

How vastly different it is today with football suffering the worst of reputations with regards to violence on the terraces and in the streets. But looking to lay blame at the feet of the police is all too easy. Theirs is a difficult job to say the least. Who would want to attend the scene of a horrific and fatal road accident before having to knock on someone’s door to deliver news that none of us would want to hear? Who would want to dive into freezing cold rivers to save a fugitive who can’t swim only to be sneered at and verbally abused during the subsequent court proceedings? Who would want to be a police officer? Not this writer for sure because it seems to me that no matter what they do they just can’t win.

Unfortunately terrorism of one sort or another is daily headlined in the papers and is screamed at us day and night from our television sets. Sadly, the deep rooted social, political and economic causes for such behaviour means there are no simple solutions. Perhaps time and tide will be good to us. But don’t hold your breath.

Like all true blue Port Vale supporters I was sickened when reading that several Huddersfield fans had been subjected to a cowardly attack by a gang of marauding youth on the streets of the Hamil. Hopefully the victims are okay.

As for the perpetrators of this fowl deed I refuse to apologise for what they’ve done because that would only serve to reinforce their low behaviour. Only they should apologise: to their Huddersfield victims; to the Huddersfield and Port Vale Football Clubs; and to all genuine football followers. But will they? Okay then, if caught they will say this, that and the other in an attempt to escape punishment. As to whether they will mean what they say is another question entirely.

See you later…

Barry Edge
Western Australia
September 14, 2004

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