'Poisonous atmosphere': City fans report growing violence at away games
- Credit: Archant
Footie fans in drug-fuelled rages have led Norwich City supporters to slam a new, "poisonous" atmosphere at away matches.
It comes after fans were punched, kicked and stamped on during the Canaries 1-0 FA Cup Fourth Round win at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
And although the behaviour from the home crowds at Carrow Road have prompted no issues, Canaries have said the reception from the resident team at Molineux on Saturday was "poisonous".
Robin Sainty, chairman of the Canaries Trust, said he had seen an "awful lot" of football-related violence while following the Canaries away this season.
He said: "We've picked up a number of stories of violence, with people reporting being punched in the tunnel, a guy who was kicked and there were also some nasty instances of abuse.
"It was a poisonous atmosphere - especially afterwards which seems a bit silly as neither team are going to win the cup.
"It's pointless getting worked up but it was really nasty."
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He added: "There are some really gobby fans about at away games - one came up to me and shouted in my face and then spat at me.
"I think that's down to two factors.
"One is coming away from Covid and lockdowns, people have a lot of pent up anger.
"People seem to be more highly strung at the football especially."
He added: "The other problem is the drug issue, mind you drugs only exacerbate what is already there.
"People's attitudes need to change."
Police stats show a 47pc increase in football arrests in the Premier League, EFL and National League this season so far.
This is a rise from 547 arrests in 2019/20 to 802, the highest since records began in the 2015/16 season.
Mr Sainty's concerns about drug use at football are backed up by the Baroness Casey report which followed crowd trouble at the Euro 2020 final.
The report said drug use in football stadiums across the country was a "growing concern", with cocaine described as potentially driving "unusually reckless and aggressive behaviour" at Wembley that day.
It concluded that "drunken and drugged-up thugs" were responsible for "a day of national shame".
Dr Martha Newson, an expert in group bonding and conflict with the Universities of Kent and Oxford, issued a report into cocaine use fuelling violence at football.
It found 30pc of those surveyed had witnessed use of the class a drug at football in the 12 months leading up to May 4, 2021.
She said: "Results suggest highly bonded fans were particularly likely to get tied up in aggressive behaviours – especially if they used cocaine.
"Importantly for policing and stadium management, women were much less likely to report aggressive behaviours than men. Young people were also slightly more aggressive than older people."
She also said the widespread availability of cheap but high purity cocaine may be associated with fan aggression.
But Mr Sainty noticed a number of older fans causing trouble during the recent cup tie.
He added: "The most obnoxious fans were older supporters. If you haven't grown up by then you never will."
He said issues may have been caused by tensions between the clubs, which stem from a match in December 1998 when Craig Bellamy was seriously injured by a horror tackle from Wolves defender Kevin Muscat.
Mr Sainty added: "It's getting worse, a greater police presence is needed, I hardly saw any at Wolves.
"You're getting back to the 1970s when you had large numbers of police, hopefully we're not going to see what we saw then.
"The fans need to sort it, no one else will."
Norwich City Football Club said they and Wolverhampton Wanderers were aware of the incidents following Saturdays game.
A spokesman added that violence among fans was something it was always monitoring and took very seriously.
West Midlands Police said they were yet to receive any reports from Norwich City fans and urged them to come forward to allow them to better understand the situation.
The force can be contacted by filling out an incident report here, or calling 101.