Melbourne’s shame: A Derby to forget
Last night was the lowest point for football in this state and country.
Fans attacking a player is nothing short of criminal and those who entered the pitch and assaulted him should be held accountable and severely punished.
You could feel the energy from the outset that this game was always going to boil over from somewhere, the likely money was always on the terraces being the location. Flares, fireworks and detonators were all visible for everyone to see. Flares rained down on the pitch from both ends, with the goalkeepers being forced to pick up the lit flares and move them from the field to keep the game going. Izzo had multiple around him and threw them behind the net. Glover was the same until he threw one back and, whether it was intended or not, it landed in the crowd. Luckily for Glover initially and then the people in the vicinity of where it landed that it was only a smoke flare and not a magnesium flare (which is becoming all too common again) but the damage was done. The front rows of Victory’s terrace made the decision which feels like it was made days in advance to storm the pitch.
Once on the pitch, bedlam ensued. The response from security, police and, in my opinion, Victory as a club left a lot to be desired. One security guard made the brave run out initially to get between these thugs and Glover, and he should be commended for this as that is a scary proposition. Alex King, the referee also should be commended for trying his best to help Glover when they reached him. It’s been reported that he was hit and was also clearly covered by fire retardant powder as he lead the players off the pitch.
Anyone who has been a fan for multiple years will remember the Public Order Response Team’s actions in Derbies at Marvel Stadium. Fans were routinely surrounded by these police in riot gear and some were treated extremely harshly for the most minor break, like standing on a chair. Why were there not more of them ready for this type of event? We all knew the 20th minute was going to be when any issues would arise.
Any possibility of the league-wide protest going forward and being successful is now basically dead and buried. The issues occurred in the 21st minute. It was clear to see that a large proportion of the Victory terrace did not intend to leave at the 20th - as planned - until something happened.
City Terrace are no saints in this matter; whilst they behaved well by comparison, the magnesium flares being hurled in the stands and onto the pitch are unacceptable. The smoke flares are the safer alternativen with a much lower chance of anyone getting hurt. Magnesium flares burn extremely hot and with a flame that is visible. These need to be stamped out in the fan culture.
For me, it says a lot about the clubs and the attitudes towards everything that had happened when almost 45 minutes after the incident, Victory fans on Level 3 above the benches decided to throw full bottles at City staff, players and officials.
This misbehaviour and ugly mentality is not limited to the terrace for Victory and is a wider problem.
Last night's actions are unacceptable at any level of society let alone at a sporting event. Those responsible must be punished accordingly and Victory as a club must face the toughest possible sanctions.