A n investigation has been launched after Cliftonville fans came under attack from a number of Linfield supporters in Windsor Park after last weekend’s top of the table clash.
Up to ten men broke though a security cordon after full time at Saturday’s match (March 29) and threw bricks, chairs and wood into the Cliftonville stand before making their way back into the home end.
In scenes reminiscent of the 1980s, the men – who did nothing to hide their identity – were pictured attacking the Cliftonville end, as stewards battled to keep order.
Cliftonville steward Chris Bailie said Linfield officials were overwhelmed by around ten individuals who broke through a gate allowing them to get close to the away stand.
“It seems to have been a security problem on the Linfield side. There was a gate left open and the stewards couldn’t cope with the number of people pushing through. They were overwhelmed.”
Chris, who is a Workers’ Party candidate in the upcoming council elections, said some irate Cliftonville fans were restrained by stewards from retaliating.
“It was very distressing because there were kids there who were crying but the Cliftonville fans were well contained. A few may have wanted to retaliate but we were able to hold them.”
He said those who had started the violence gave a bad name to proper supporters.
“This will just mean more hassle for the ordinary fans. Proper fans want nothing to do with this.”
Cliftonville Chairman Gerard Lawlor tweeted that he would be “speaking to the blues” (Linfield) about the incident. He also confirmed the Match Delegate reported the incident. Match Delegates attend specific matches on behalf of the Irish Football Association (IFA) to report on how games are managed.
A spokesman for Linfield said they would be making no comment until they conducted their own investigations.
The Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) issued a statement condemning the violence.
“The behaviour of these individuals is grossly unfair to the players, officials and genuine supporters of both clubs,” it said.
The North Belfast News contacted the IFA but no one was available for comment.