A SCHOOLBOY football match had to be abandoned when rival teenage gangs invaded the pitch for a mass brawl.
Up to 40 young thugs descended on the under-16s game in Edinburgh, wielding golf clubs and metal poles.
Police caught up with the running battle after worried spectators reported violent fighting.
Onlookers feared the teens were carrying knives, and CCTV footage resulted in a handful of the mob being arrested and charged over weapon offences.
Shaken volunteers from the two teams, Lochend Youth FC and Cavalry Park, were keen to distance themselves from the mayhem, insisting their players were not involved in the fighting.
The South East Region Youth FA division three fixture was called off at halftime.
An eyewitness said: “It was really scary, especially for the kids playing.
“They were running at each other with golf clubs, metal poles, sticks and anything else they could find.
“Some of them had found weapons at the scrap yard next door and brought them.
“One lot finally chased the other away and they all went running across the pitch.
“Four police cars arrived but they had all scattered by then.”
A gathering of teenage boys on the Seafield pitch sideline raised the suspicions of club officials, who believe the rival gangs latched on to the match as an excuse to fight each other.
“An excuse to fight”
A spokesman for Lochend FC said: “We’re not happy about this because these people have nothing to do with our club and we don’t want to be tarred with that.
“They may have latched on to the game as an excuse to fight, which is beyond our control.”
Four youths – one aged 17, two aged 16 and a 15-year-old – were arrested and charged with weapon offences at Wednesday night’s game.
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “Police stopped a number of male youths nearby, four of whom were arrested and charged with alleged weapons offences.”