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England\'s night of shame

   
Rival football thugs clashed in a night of violence which shamed the North East.
Around 95 arrests were made as yobs from Newcastle and Sunderland fought each other while there were also clashes with Middlesbrough and Leeds supporters.
The Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey was marred by racist chants and supporters invading the pitch after both goals.
Police had feared that problems between England and Turkey fans, dating back to the fatal stabbing of two Leeds United supporters after a UEFA Cup game in Istanbul three years ago, could lead to violence.
But with no Turkish fans involved in trouble, about 200 Newcastle and Sunderland followers set about each other in the city\'s streets before turning on the police.

Officers were pelted with missiles including bottles, cans and wheel hubs.
The biggest single arrest of thugs from the two groups came in the Albion Pub in Southwick Street, Sunderland, three hours prior to the match, when 25 people including known hooligans were arrested.
Supt Jim Campbell, who led last night\'s police operation, said: \"There was a group of known people who are associated with Newcastle and Sunderland hooligan groups.
\"It\'s not normal to have known Sunderland and Newcastle hooligans in the same place and the interpretation my officers placed on that was that violence was imminent.
\"They acted appropriately and arrested those individuals.\"
An hour later more than 25 Leeds supporters were arrested in the Fawcett Street area of Sunderland close to Yates Wine Lodge.
As kick-off approached, dozens of riot police clashed with hundreds of supporters on the approach to the stadium.

The violent skirmishes followed numerous incidents on the Wearmouth Bridge. Thugs pelted riot police with bottles and bar stools.

Closer to the stadium, one fan was knocked to the floor and smashed his head against the pavement. He lay unconscious on the floor for around 30 minutes before being taken away in an ambulance.

When buses carrying the Turkish fans pulled up, missiles were hurled and hooligans banged on the windows, some even trying to force their way onto the coaches.

UEFA and the FA are both launching probes into the violence which marred the match.

Up to 50 fans sprinted onto the pitch after each of England\'s goal\'s and one England supporter was also involved in an altercation with Turkish defender Alpay.

Trouble broke out in the tunnel after the game involving Alpay and Blackburn Midfielder Tugay.

FA spokesman David Davies said: \"It was a very emotional night and we don\'t condone spectators entering the pitch.

\"We will ask all the right questions to discover if there was anything which might have been done to prevent it and wasn\'t, but we don\'t want to re-introduce fences.\"

Eyewitness Craig Dillon, 26, of South Shields, said: \"It was quite scary at times but I think it could have been a lot worse.

\"I think it was worse before the game but the majority of the trouble seemed to be between different England fans.

\"I think a lot of it involved Middlesbrough and Sunderland fans and there might have been some Leeds fans there as well.

\"I saw a few fights but nothing too bad. There were too many police for it to kick off properly.\"

After the game hundreds of fans were involved in a tense stand-off with police at the end of the ground housing the Turkish followers.

A line of around 10 police vans stood alongside hundreds of cops, many on horseback and some with dogs.

Within 20 minutes of the game finishing the police started charging at the baying mob after they had started hurling coins and other missiles at them.

All police leave was cancelled and 1,000 officers were on duty in Sunderland last night, and the tactic of gradually driving groups of fans down three of the main routes away from the stadium seemed to work.

Top officers say they were pleased with the overall operation.

Northumbria police Supt Neil Mackay, of the force\'s Operational Support, said: \"This was a well-planned operation which contained or prevented violent skirmishes which broke out.

\"It appeared a number of the hooligan element of rival factions of England fans from different clubs were intent on fighting, but they were arrested to prevent a breach of the peace. There were no serious injuries. Three people who were hurt included two policemen. One fan suffered a broken leg when he fell over in the ground.\"

They had to segregate fans arrested by taking them to five police stations in Newcastle, Sunderland and South Tyneside, to avoid potential clashes in the cells.

Message posted on a hooligan website

\"Well done everyone - amazing scenes!!! Proud to be English an understatement!\"

Today sick thugs were congratulating themselves on a night of violence in the North East.

Jubilant tributes began appearing on websites of soccer hooligans. The message boards of Sunderland\'s notorious Seaburn Casuals, Newcastle Gremlins and Leeds Service Crew were full of praise for the sickening scenes.

On one, Sunderland\'s Seaburn Casuals, it reads: \"All in a days work. What a day - who said hooligans were at a end? By what went on today I see its back big time.\"

Another wrote: \"Well done everyone - amazing scenes!!! Proud to be English an understatement! Real spirit the way it should be. Even Gary Lineker announced the crowd trouble at half time!\"

Before the game it was feared Leeds fans would use the match as an excuse for revenge for the stabbing of two fans in Istanbul.

\"Geordie\", who posted a message on the Leeds Service crew site, said: \"Leeds Service Crew took the Turks outside the ground and got arrested.\"

The Leeds site also says: \"A lot of your lads were arrested, but the prisons are full. Out with a tag after two weeks! Three year bans ain\'t good though.\"

The Gremlins website crowed: \"Top night chaps, taking the mick out of the Mackems.

\"OK police made a few snatches, which did not help our cause, but they say we no longer have a firm. We took it to the scum\'s backyard, good day, good result, good fun afterwards in the Toon.\"

Police were monitoring some of Britain\'s most violent hooligan \"firms\" from Leeds, Tottenham and Hull, who had posted vows on the Internet to travel to Tyneside to take on around 5,000 Turkish supporters.
Leeds fans Christopher Loftus and Kevin Spate were stabbed during street clashes the night before Leeds played Turkey\'s Galatasaray in the Uefa Cup semi-finals in April 2000. Ai Umit Demir was jailed for 15 years for murder by a court in Istanbul.
  

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