Terror as ‘friendly’ football fans erupt into violence

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By Kirsty Topping

 

FOOTBALL fans as young as 14 clashed in a mass brawl after their teams’ friendly match was cancelled.

Hibs were due to play Barnsley at Easter Road on Saturday but the game was postponed after the pitch was waterlogged by torrential downpours.

Horrified shoppers looked on in horror as rival fans clashed at a nearby leisure complex, with several bottles – and punches- being thrown.

The fight began in a Lloyds No1 pub, next to Edinburgh’s Omni Centre, at around 3pm and spilled over into the beer garden before police arrived to break it up.

Lothian and Borders police confirmed that seven people had been arrested.

One male eyewitness, who didn’t want to be named and who was having lunch at another pub within the complex at the time the fight broke out, said:

“A bunch of guys who were past Lloyds started to run towards another group outside the beer garden and started hitting a group of three or four guys to begin with, then the fight moved along to right outside Lloyds bar.

“They were all different age groups, with the youngest being around 14 or 15 and the oldest in their late 30s. It just all of a sudden kicked off and there was some chanting during it.’There were two or three of them walking around with bottles of Buckfast and at one pointa guy charged towards the group with the bottle.

“People watching outside the Omni Centre were shocked and pretty scared. I thought I had something to do with the Hibs match. “

He added:

“The first part of the fight was very violent with punches being thrown. There were smashed bottles.

“Around five or six police cars arrived after five minutes and managed to diffuse it in about half an hour.

“It was pretty surreal. Initially there was panic and people rushing away from it. “

Another eyewitness, who also didn’t want to be named, added:

“All hell broke loose. Some Hibs hooligans went past and started fighting with some English guys who were outside the beer garden.

“It happened right at 3pm after the game got cancelled – they must have been looking for a fight. “

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders police said the incident was thought to be football related and seven men had been arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace.

He added that if any of the man were to be convicted then they could also face a football banning order.

Hibs declined to comment.

 

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