A Beautiful Game

I had hoped to catch a game in either Bremen or Hamburg during my trip there but unfortunately no games are being held. I'll even miss the Germany v England game in Berlin. It would have been interesting to watch the match in a German pub!

I was pleased to hear that last weekend (away at Bochum) Werder Bremen fans turned on so-called fellow supporters who unfurled a neo-Nazi banner on the eve of Kristallnacht. The Fascists were arrested and now face bans.

In light of the recent council election victory for the BNP in Boston - admittedly small beer - it highlights the fact that the extreme right is very much alive in Europe and the economic problems give them ammunition.

It reminded me of a game I attended about 10 years ago - coincidentally I was looking at the programme yesterday - Wrexham v Tranmere. With a history of local rivalry and trouble, the police were out in force and treated all those attending with a uniform mistrust. We were herded like cattle through the streets which showed that the police had not learned anything from the 1980s.

During the game there was a section of skin-headed morons with a Union Jack in our end of the ground. They were not Tranmere supporters; nobody recognised them. Some had swastika tattoos; they used chants like 'No surrender to the IRA'. They had non-Merseyside accents.

Several regular Tranmere fans joined me in complaining to stewards and then the police. Nothing was done.

Thankfully, the kind of racist chants and gestures that greeted black players in the 80s has gone from English grounds. Other parts of Europe such as Spain still appear to have this disease. Whilst the Spanish response has been less than spectacular, it is good to see that Germany is taking this problem seriously.