DCSIMG

REVENGE FOR MILLWALL RIOT

POLICE this week blamed Luton hooligans for the violence that erupted in the town centre before Saturday s football clash against Millwall. They believe a local gang of thugs known as MIGS 2000 were out for revenge to mark the 15th anniversary of one of the worst riots in football history.Bedfordshire Police became aware weeks ago that MIGS members were planning retribution for the mayhem caused by Millwall s notorious followers during an FA Cup quarter-final at Kenilworth Road on March 13, 1985.They mounted one of their biggest operations for a Hatters home match for several years, drafting in 130 officers as well as police horses and dogs and a helicopter to monitor the crowd.Ten people were arrested, but football liaison officer Pc Peter Palmer said yesterday that contrary to a Sunday newspaper report, trouble at two pubs before the game was caused by Luton supporters.About 30 of them hurled bottles at the Duke of Clarence in Upper George Street and tried to force their way into the pub to attack Millwall fans peacefully drinking inside. Glass doors were smashed and the manager ordered his staff out of the bar for their own safety.Police had to deal with a similar flashpoint outside the Nelson Flagship in Dunstable Road an hour later at 2.30 when the Luton gang had doubled.Pc Palmer said rumours were circulating around the town that several people were stabbed, but police had received no official reports.He added that some members of MIGS 2000 are the sons of the original MIGS (Men In Gear) who formed in the 1970s when football hooliganism was at its height.About 1,500 Millwall followers travelled from South London for Saturday s Division Two game, which the visitors won 2-0. Although the two clubs have met several times in recent years, more rested on this game than any other since 1985 as Millwall are chasing promotion.Pc Palmer said: Luton v Millwall games are always volatile, but there was a greater threat of serious disturbance on this occasion. Millwall have a fierce reputation, but they did not live up to it. They were generally well behaved. The trouble was entirely due to the local hooligan element, which is quite sizeable, seeking revenge. They had remembered the anniversary and their attitude was, They ve trashed our town once they re not doing it again . The suspected ringleader was arrested during the Duke of Clarence incident and we may make further arrests after looking at video evidence from the town centre CCTV. We quickly dealt with the situation, but they swelled in numbers when they regrouped and laid siege to the Nelson Flagship on the way to the ground. They tried to intimidate Millwall supporters who were drinking inside and we stepped in to make further arrests. They were looking for further aggro after the game, but we did not give them the opportunity to do that. Terry Wood, relief manager at the Duke of Clarence, said: The place was packed and there was a good atmosphere until a gang of yobs gathered outside and started throwing bottles and glasses. I got the staff out the back, out of the way. The Millwall supporters drinking in here did not retaliate. In fact they apologised for what happened, even though it wasn t their fault. I m new to Luton and this wasn t a very nice introduction. Former boxer John Ashton, area manager for four pubs in the Luton area, including the Nelson Flagship, said: About 15 Millwall lads who are all ex-boxers contacted me before the game and asked if they could drink in my pub. They were as good as gold, but the police let a few hooligans go as they escorted them to the ground. They charged into the pub and there was a bit of a skirmish, with some glasses broken. The police operation was the biggest for a match at Kenilworth Road since Luton played Watford two-and-a-half years ago.Those arrested on Saturday are due to appear at Luton Magistrates Court on various charges, including threatening behaviour and entering a sports ground while drunk.Earlier this season, police slammed Luton supporters who could have sparked a serious disturbance, and caused a tragedy, when they set fire to the Welsh flag in the wooden main stand at the game against Cardiff City.

 
 
 

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