Trouble Dutch | 

Linfield hooligans team up with Dutch soccer thugs to cause League-Cup-final chaos

It’s a sinister development in a season which has seen a worrying rise of violence and crowd disorder at local soccer.

Linfield and Dutch fans together in Belfast before the League Cup final earlier this month

Hiding faces at the match

Linfield fans with a flag which they made for the Irish League Cup Final

Blue Unity on the streets of Belfast

Steven MooreSunday World

Dutch soccer thugs teamed up with Linfield hooligans to launch attacks on rival fans at the League Cup final recently, we can reveal.

Our pictures show that thugs who have attached themselves to little-known VVV Venlo and Linfield have established a disturbing alliance.

A group of Dutch ‘supporters’ of VVV Venlo were pictured posing with Linfield hooligans before the Belfast showdown with Coleraine FC at Windsor Park a fortnight ago.

Shortly after this picture was taken in south Belfast, not far from the National Stadium, there was a massive punch-up between two groups of hooligans on the Donegall Road before the match.

Hiding faces at the match

It’s a sinister development in a season which has seen a worrying rise of violence and crowd disorder at local soccer.

A number of people were injured at that League Cup final and six people were arrested in fighting in separate incidents around the ground, with a group of Linfield fans — who call themselves ‘Blue Unity’ — at the heart of much of the trouble.

And we can reveal a group of Linfield fans returned the ‘hospitality’ by flying to the Netherlands last weekend to go to a match involving VVV Venlo.

Dutch football has been plagued with football violence for years and while VVV Venlo play in the second tier, they have a vociferous section of so-called ‘ultras’ who are well known for fighting and causing disorder at football matches.

Earlier this month, a crowd of just over 11,000 watched the Bet McLean Cup showpiece final, with the majority enjoying a great day out in which Linfield won 2-0.

But rival hooligans clashed before and after the game around the Lisburn Road and Boucher Road.

It is understood Coleraine fans planned to attack the First Belfast Rangers Supporter’s Club — better known as the Barrington — a well-known Linfield haunt.

But they were met by their rivals who were tipped off and a massive clash ensued.

Dutch hooligans were at the centre of that clash, we understand, and were present inside the ground when Linfield fans let off flares and smoke bombs.

Afterwards the police thanked both clubs for their efforts in keeping the peace but revealed they had to deal with “a small number of individuals who ignored police advice and appeals for common sense before the game”.

The PSNI said a number of opposing fans were involved in a public order disturbance shortly before kick-off in the Donegall Road and Tates Avenue Bridge areas, which resulted in a 43-year-old man being arrested on suspicion of public order-related offences.

Linfield fans with a flag which they made for the Irish League Cup Final

There were also separate reports of two men sustaining injuries in an assault outside the stadium.

Superintendent Christian Bradley said in the aftermath: “Our officers were in place to deal swiftly and effectively with any troublemakers. The majority of the issues were outside the venue — however, a number of flares/smoke bombs were set off inside the stadium which we are investigating.

“A total of six arrests were made for public order-related offences and, where applicable, we will be seeking football banning orders. As part of our follow-up, we will also be reviewing any available CCTV.” The violence came just weeks after Linfield fans had thrown a number of objects on to the pitch at The Oval during a 3-0 defeat to Belfast rivals Glentoran.

That game was halted twice after Glentoran players Aaron McCarey and Marcus Kane appeared to be struck by items.

Afterwards Linfield vowed to meet fans to address issues around objects being thrown on to the pitch and flares being let off in the stands.

Sources at Linfield are said to have been “extremely disappointed” with the trouble and flares that blighted the final just a few days after they had a stadium fan ban overturned on appeal and reduced to a £7,500 fine.

Last Sunday Blue Unity travelled to Holland to join their newfound friends for VVV Venlo’s derby against Roda Kerkrade which finished 1-1.

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