Linfield fans target rivals in pub attack

The Moat Bar
The Moat Bar

Marauding Linfield fans attacked rival fans in a teatime attack on a bar as they made their way home from watching their team play Coleraine.

A busload of supporters returning from the Premiership match laid siege to the Moat Bar in Harryville on the outskirts of Ballymena – known to be a haunt of the town’s football team.

As their coach skirted the Bible-belt town, Blues men ordered the driver to wheel his vehicle off the main road back to Belfast and head instead in the direction of Harryville.

Minutes later – as teatime shoppers were heading home – the bus came to a halt outside the Moat Bar in the centre of the staunchly loyalist village.

In what was clearly a premeditated assault, Linfield supporters piled off the bus and bounced into the busy bar.

The Bluesmen singled out two locals they accused of being behind an attack on two young Linfield fans following a recent cup tie match between the Belfast club and Ballymena United.

In a Wednesday night match at Ballymena Showgrounds, a 10-man Linfield side were trounced 4-1 by a well-organised Ballymena outfit under the command of former Blues favourite player and manager, David Jeffrey.

But as two teenage Linfield fans made their way back to a supporters’ bus, they were set upon and badly beaten by a section of Ballymena fans.

And on Saturday evening around teatime, Linfield supporters wreaked their revenge.

The Sunday World can reveal that using well-established UVF contacts in Ballymena, Linfield fans were able to identify the two Ballymena thugs who attacked the youngsters at the cup tie clash on October 12.

And again calling on loyalist paramilitary connections, they also learned they’d be in the Moat Bar shortly after 5pm last Saturday.

Harryville Homers, a local amateur side, had just finished playing Sky Blue Crew from Belfast’s Ardoyne district and players from both sides were enjoying a post-match pint when the Linfield bully boys sprung the surprise attack.

Eye witnesses say things got out of control within seconds as Belfast and Ballymena men went toe to toe in the bar.

Police were called when things spilled on to the street, cars were forced to swerve to avoid hitting the warring fans.

One source said: “One minute everyone in the bar was enjoying a tea-time pint and the next thing, they were all involved in hand-to-hand fighting.

“It took the police a long time to get on top of it. Eventually the Belfast men got back on their bus and left the area. And that’s when things began to calm down.”

Earlier this week the police in Ballymena warned anyone intent on violence linked to football matches would be targeted for arrest. They claimed a section of football casuals – aping football clubs in England – have attached themselves to Ballymena United.

In a Facebook post, the PSNI said officers had already examined CCTV footage of the violence which followed the recent Ballymena United/Linfield clash and that culprits had been identified.

A police spokesperson said: “Police are currently working to identify persons involved in previous disorder with a view to prosecuting them.

“CCTV footage has been viewed and officers on duty will be briefed as to who to look out for.”