FA Cup - Paper Round: Millwall fans 'took cocaine in front of kids'

Paper Round concedes it is often full of flimsy transfer rumours but they are on short supply in Monday's newspapers which instead tackles the far more serious scenes that blighted the weekend's football action.

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FA Cup - Paper Round: Millwall fans 'took cocaine in front of kids'
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Mirror 15/04/2013

There was some trouble in Newcastle after the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday but most of the media attention is focused on Saturday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley where Millwall fans fought amongst themselves and the police.

The fall-out from that match has hit the front pages of the newspapers with the Daily Mirror having a particularly striking and disturbing front page that screams: "Wembley Riot Fuelled by Cocaine."

The accompanying piece says that: "Millwall fans have been accused of snorting cocaine in front of children before the shameful FA Cup riot.

"Fellow Lions supporters said they saw groups of men 'blatantly' taking the Class A drug on the Wembley concourses before the match against Wigan Athletic and again at half-time."

They quote one fan as saying: "There was no attempt to cover up what they were doing. They were openly snorting cocaine like other lads were downing lager.

While another commented: "To see grown men passing spliffs, charlie (cocaine) and God knows what else around openly in front of their own young kids was bad.”

The police confirmed that 14 men were arrested at the ground with 12 of them being Millwall fans. Offences included assault causing actual bodily harm, assaulting an officer, and possession of Class A drugs.

According to the Times, Millwall privately expressed reservations to the FA about the late kick-off time for the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday.

The match kicked-off at 5.15pm and "consumption of alcohol and drugs have been cited as key reasons for trouble flaring among fans of the Championship club."

"Some people would have been drinking from 9am, more than eight hours before the game started. Millwall had concerns," the paper says.

"The FA believes that the kick-off time was not a significant issue given other high-profile games staged at the venue have begun at a similar late hour."

The Times also says that the trouble on Tyneside was even worse. "A police officer needed hospital treatment and 27 people were arrested after Newcastle United fans ran riot in the city centre after the team lost 3-0 to Sunderland," the paper says.

"Newcastle supporters set light to wheelie bins, threw glass bottles and threw firecrackers at police officers and police horses."

The Sun newspaper meanwhile "tracked down" three of the Millwall fans caught by the television cameras causing trouble including "smirking Tony Shannon, 27, (who) was shown on TV tucking a policeman’s cap under his jacket."

He told the paper: "I thought it was funny - but now I feel like an idiot."

Again the Sun says that "Millwall louts were openly drug-taking at the Wembley match which shamed football."

Briefly going back to Newcastle and one officer is quoted in the Guardian as saying: "This is the worst rioting I have seen in the city centre in decades."

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, respected football journalist Henry Winter said the trouble at Wembley raised many issues.

"One relates to the Football Association’s lucrative relationship with the brewing industry. The FA Cup is sponsored by a lager company and the delayed kick-off guaranteed early business for pubs as well as the opportunity for supporters to drink all day," he noted.

Finally, Sam Wallace in the Independent added that there is statistical data to back up the anecdotal claim that Millwall have a larger contingent of troublemakers than other clubs.

"They might only be 18th in the Championship, but when it comes to the number of arrests, Millwall are not far off the Champions League places. Not only did they top the Championship with 18 arrests for violent disorder, alongside Nottingham Forest, but both clubs also had more arrests in that most serious category than any club in the Premier League," he writes.

"To put that in perspective, this is a club that averaged a home attendance of 11,888 last season, the fourth-lowest in the division. Yet overall, last season, Millwall fans were the subject of 65 arrests, the joint highest total in the Championship along with Birmingham City.

"To the relief of those in the top division, there is no prospect of Millwall competing in the Premier League in the near future on anything but arrest figures."

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