Championship side Millwall hosted Premier League side Everton on Saturday afternoon in the fourth round of the FA Cup at The Den.
The FA Cup tie between Millwall and Everton was marred as a pre-match mass brawl between opposition supporters left one man seriously injured. The brawl transpired on Hawkestone Road, close to Millwall’s home ground in Southwark, South London, and involved more than 50 people.
The situation started when Everton’s team bus was attacked ahead of the match by Millwall supporters as it pulled up to the ground. A relative of the bus driver, told the Liverpool Echo, that “all the windows on the bus were smashed” as he had to drive the players away and to safety.
Both fans threw bricks and glass bottles at each other and were described by the police as ‘drunk’. It is thought that this brawl was pre-arranged by fans from both teams and lasted significantly longer than footage shared on social media shows.
During the scuffle, an Everton fan- Jason Burns- was slashed in the face, causing horrific facial injuries. He was taken to a local hospital in South London by the London Ambulance Service, where his injuries were confirmed as non-life threatening.
Metropolitan Police say that the trouble started at 4.42pm, ahead of kick-off at 5.30pm. Critics have said that police and ground staff were slow to react to the escalation but the Met responded by saying they worked to “separate the groups with support from the Mounted Branch and Dog Support Unit”.
Metropolitan Police say they are fully investigating Saturday’s ‘disgusting behaviour’, but at this time ‘no arrests have been made’ and are appealing for information. The police and FA are also investigating claims of ‘racist chanting’ by Millwall supporters directed at Everton’s bench and supporters.
After the violence had been contained and the situation was de-escalated by police, the match was able to go ahead as planned, with Millwall twice coming from behind during the contest they eventually won 3-2, securing a dramatic last gasp winner from Murray Wallace in injury time causing the cup upset at the expense of Everton to secure their place in the fifth round.
The FA chairman, Greg Clarke has promised to punish those involved. After one of the London’s most brutal football related fights in over a decade, work needs to be done to avoid a repeat of hooliganism that dominated football in the 1980s and to make sure this kind of event doesn’t take place again.