English Soccer Had A Violent, Cocaine-Fueled, Horse-Punching Weekend

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The FA decided not to hold a minute of silence for Margaret Thatcher, fearing it would turn ugly. Instead, fans took it on themselves to recall the bad old days of the 1980s, with full-on brawls with opposing supporters, police, and each other.

In the second half of Saturday's 2-0 FA Cup loss to Wigan, Millwall fans—upholding their reputation as some of England's worst—gave up on the match and turned to fists. Fights broke out throughout the Lions' end of Wembley, as supporters brawled with each other, and eventually, the outnumbered police.

Striking images showed hooligans covered in blood alternating with shots of crying children. A surrounded group of police beating off fans with batons, even as one man emerged from the scrum holding a police helmet high, his trophy.


Some TV images:

And here's the view from the stands:

One eyewitness report says the trouble started when a drunken man knocked over a child and refused to apologize, and fights between two groups flared up periodically throughout the second half, culminating in what some are calling "riots" with 10 minutes remaining. Four police were injured in the fray, and fourteen people were arrested—with many more to come.


Some criticism was launched at the FA's decision to start the match at 5:15 local time. It was meant to increase TV ratings, but it also gave fans plenty of drinking time.

"Some of these people go to the pub at 10am and get blind drunk. What are they doing in the ground?"


Millwall message boards are alight with tales of fans snorting cocaine before and during the match, sometimes in the bathrooms, sometimes right on Wembley's concourses.

The violence wasn't confined to London. On Sunday, after the Tyne-Wear Derby between Newcastle and Sunderland, Magpies fans clashed with police in the city center. Twenty-nine people were arrested. This guy punched a horse:

It was a rough weekend.