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BAR BRAWL: EIGHT ARRESTS
25th May 2006 6:33


BAR BRAWL: EIGHT ARRESTS
Nottingham Evening Post, 24May2006

Eight suspected football hooligans were arrested today in a series of early morning raids following a massive bar brawl.

Teams of officers set out simultaneously from Mansfield police station just after 6am.

The operation followed a fight upstairs in Yates's Wine Lodge in Nottingham that saw families fleeing in terror as 50 hooligans hurled tables and chairs.

Mansfield Town fans are thought to have pre-arranged the battle with Shrewsbury Town supporters, who were in the city while their team played Notts County on January 21.

Within an hour and a half today, police had arrested eight suspects.

One team moved on a house in Haywood Avenue, Blidworth, to arrest an 18-year-old man. They caught him on his push bike near his workplace in a country lane.

City commander Inspector Paul Winter said of the bar brawl: "It must have been horrific. Clamping down on football-related violence has to be a priority."

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FAMILIES FLED AS HOOLIGANS WAGED BATTLE

Months of painstaking investigations culminated in a series of early morning raids today to round up suspected football hooligans believed to have been involved in a violent brawl in the city centre. DAN HODGES joined police on the raids in Mansfield

Families enjoying a meal out on a quiet Saturday afternoon had no idea that terrifying violence was about to break out.

Chairs and tables were hurled through the air as 50 men waged a pitched battle in the upstairs family area of Yates's Wine Lodge in Old Market Square, Nottingham.

Pensioners and children fled for cover and one diner was left unconscious after the horrific brawl - one of the worst incidents of football violence in the city in recent times.

Police believe the fight was pre-arranged. Known hooligans supporting Mansfield Town and Shrewsbury Town met, it is believed, after a series of mobile phone conversations and emails.

"You've got people out shopping who go into Yates's for something to eat in the family dining area, and before you know it you've got 50 hooligans smashing the place up and throwing tables around," said Inspector Paul Winter, commander for the city centre.

"People were running for cover. It must have been horrific."

The scale of the violence took police by surprise. They had to focus on dispersing the two factions and leave the investigation for later.

The Shrewsbury Town fans, whose team were playing Notts County, were monitored and escorted out of the county on their coach two hours after the brawl.

But the brawl, which started at 2pm on January 21 this year, was captured on CCTV.

And early this morning - after months of trawling through that CCTV footage - seven homes in Mansfield were raided. Teams of officers arrived at each address almost simultaneously after 6.30am to arrest suspects and bring them back to Nottingham for questioning.

If charged and convicted, the suspects could face up to ten years behind bars for violent disorder and conspiring to cause violent disorder.

PC Jon Harris spent a staggering 200 hours examining the pub's CCTV footage and has been leading the investigation.

He said: "A group of about 30 Mansfield Town supporters went to the Cross Keys pub beforehand, and around 80% of those are known to me and my colleagues.

"They went to Yates's, where the Shrewsbury fans had arrived just before them, and there was a huge amount of mobile phone activity between the two groups.

"The fight was in a family area. That kind of behaviour is just not acceptable."

Mansfield Town were playing at home that day - a further indication that the gang must have come to Nottingham for a reason, police said.

Police say today's arrests will act as a warning to hooligans thinking of causing trouble in the city.

"We've got the World Cup coming up and we want to send out a strong message that we won't tolerate that sort of thing," said Insp Winter.

"Clamping down on football-related violence has to be a priority.

"There's no reason people shouldn't be able to come into town and enjoy themselves without becoming the victims of crime."

Police in Mansfield and Ashfield are also warning revellers that they could be given football banning orders if they step out of line in pubs and bars during World Cup matches.

Big crowds are anticipated and twice as many officers as usual are being drafted in to tackle troublemakers.

Mounted police, special support officers and plain-clothed "spotters" will be called on to keep order. Anyone who causes problems could join the list of 200 people who are banned from every pub, club and bar in the area.

Chief Inspector John Eyre said: "If drink is flowing and passions are running high, it could spark disorder, so we are taking no chances.

"Offences committed during televised games are deemed football-related, and will be used as evidence to support football ban applications.

"We are very pleased by the amount of support from licensees. They are all just as determined as we are to remove the thuggish element from our towns."

 

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