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Young Arsenal fan's first game ruined in Cologne anarchy

by 15/09/2017 19:00:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Europa League game between Arsenal and Cologne was delayed by an hour 
  • Thousands of Cologne fans arrived in London trying to get into the game 
  • Visiting fans managed to get access to the home supporter sections
  • Some Arsenal fans said the Emirates became too intimidating for children
  • Others were able to enjoy the spirit of the occasion and enjoy the game
  • Ex-Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski says Cologne fans improved the atmosphere
  • READ: Cologne criticise Arsenal and police for role in Emirates crowd problems  

By Matt Barlow for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:30 EDT, 15 September 2017 | Updated: 19:00 EDT, 15 September 2017

Eight-year-old Isaac was excited to be going to his first night game at Arsenal.

His father had bought Friends and Family tickets at the Emirates Stadium through his red membership but they arrived to find the gates at section P closed.

Amid flashing blue lights, riot police and dog handlers, thousands of boisterous Cologne fans were jostling to enter the ground through the same turnstiles.

There were chaotic scenes at the Emirates on Thursday night as Arsenal took on Cologne
There were chaotic scenes at the Emirates on Thursday night as Arsenal took on Cologne

There were chaotic scenes at the Emirates on Thursday night as Arsenal took on Cologne

In order to navigate the terraces some supporters were spotted clambering over seats
In order to navigate the terraces some supporters were spotted clambering over seats

In order to navigate the terraces some supporters were spotted clambering over seats

Police had to cordon off fans as they tried to enter the ground and kick-off was delayed
Police had to cordon off fans as they tried to enter the ground and kick-off was delayed

Police had to cordon off fans as they tried to enter the ground and kick-off was delayed

'It didn't feel like a family atmosphere,' said dad Alan Jones. 'They were chanting and in good spirits but the sheer weight of numbers was intimidating for an eight-year-old. People were saying the game had been delayed and it wasn't certain to go ahead.

'Something didn't feel right. I felt unsure. So we took the decision to leave. I just couldn't take a chance.

'There were others doing the same. Most of those walking away were parents with young children. My son was disappointed. We went home and watched the highlights on TV. We'll try again in the future.'

Others, without children to consider, joined in with the spirit of the occasion as Cologne celebrated their return to European football.

Cologne supporters lit flares as they gathered during the match in the away end
Cologne supporters lit flares as they gathered during the match in the away end

Cologne supporters lit flares as they gathered during the match in the away end

When the gates were opened, after a one-hour delay, it was clear the upper tier of the Clock End had been invaded by the visitors, many of them wearing Arsenal shirts.

'The seat I had been allocated seemed to have been taken over by a group of German fans and they clearly were not going anywhere,' said Barnaby Phillips.

'They were there in huge numbers, mostly men, they were raucous and many were very drunk but they were friendly and good natured. I didn't find them threatening. They sang, 'There's only one team in London' and gave Per Mertesacker some stick but this wasn't a huge hooligan firm. 

'We found some seats nearby and tried to cheer on our team. It wasn't a big deal. Inside the ground they created a great atmosphere. One guy told me he bought his ticket for £80 from a tout.'

Despite the problems with large numbers of visiting fans there were empty seats inside 
Despite the problems with large numbers of visiting fans there were empty seats inside 

Despite the problems with large numbers of visiting fans there were empty seats inside 

One Cologne fan, Roland Flessner, told Bleacher Report how one problem came when shops near Highbury Fields, where many German groups had gathered, ran out of beer. 'I am not sure English people knew how much we care about our team,' said Flessner.

'There was a time when certain sections of Cologne supporters had a reputation for violence, but in the past four or five years that has changed. It was peaceful.'

Some security staff at the stadium were pushed aside in isolated skirmishes with groups of Cologne fans who wanted to be closer to the away support.

Others knocked down temporary barriers, seats were ripped out in the away section, flares were lit and objects thrown.

Lois Langton, chair of Arsenal Independent Supporters Association, said: 'UEFA must sanction Cologne in the way that it doubtless would have had an English club's supporters behaved in such a disgraceful manner.

'It is only right that charges have been swiftly brought.'

However Lukas Podolski, a legend of FC Cologne and a former Arsenal striker, now playing in Japan, tweeted: 'The mood in the stadium was great. Cologne shouldn't need to hide or be ashamed, that was a really great atmosphere, more than the Champions League.'

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