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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 14:12 GMT
Police 'failed' to protect fans
One of the buses attacked after the Derry City v Linfield match
Six buses were stoned as they left the Derry City football ground
Football fans attacked on their way home from a game in Londonderry have "every right" to feel let down by the PSNI, a police commander has said.

Six buses carrying Linfield fans were stoned as they left Derry City's Brandywell grounds on Tuesday.

No one was seriously injured but ten people suffered shock.

Chief Superintendent Richard Russell said the main objective of policing the fixture was to protect people, and that in this they had failed.

"I think we have let down those people, because one of the main objectives of the policing operation last night was to keep safe all the people who were going to the match, and unfortunately that hasn't happened," he said.

He added that "having got them safely into the ground, having got them 90 minutes of very, very good football without a problem that on the way out two minutes of madness has totally destroyed their evening".

It was the first time the two teams had met at the Brandywell in 36 years.

There was no police presence inside the ground, but both teams had stewards on duty for the game.

We were supposed to be going there for a game of football, we weren't expecting this
Trevor Roulston
Linfield Supporters Club

A number of times during the match, fireworks were thrown at the Linfield goalkeeper from outside the stadium. However, there were no major problems inside the ground.

It was only as supporters of the Belfast side left that trouble flared with fireworks and stones being thrown at them on the mainly nationalist Foyle Road.

Jim Roddy, the outgoing chairman of Derry City FC, said a small number of people had spoiled a great night.

"The Linfield fans came to the Brandywell and they behaved impeccably, they were a credit to their club, and everything was going so, so well until these people tried to spoil the whole thing for us," he said.

Linfield manager David Jeffreys condemned the attack.

"It wasn't a spur of the moment attack it was orchestrated, you don't get large numbers of people armed with bricks and whatever else," he said.

"What was a footballing occasion to bring people together was sadly wrecked by non-football people who made it very clear last night they do not want Linfield down in the Brandywell which is desperately sad."

Chairman of the First Londonderry Linfield Supporters Club Trevor Roulston said the problems only began after the match.

"Just coming out of Anne Street, the first row of bricks the buses and every bus that came out past us then was also attacked," he said.

"There was actually young girls and children on the bus and they were screaming. We were supposed to be going there for a game of football, we weren't expecting this."

BBC NI's Aideen McLaughlin:
"A major security operation had been put in place but it did not prevent youths attacking the buses."

Derry City 1-1 Linfield
22 Feb 05 |  Irish

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