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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 08:25 GMT
Cardiff enjoys trouble-free cup final
Blackburn fans at Worthington Cup Final
Police have praised the fans' actions
Thousands of fans enjoyed a trip to the Worthington Cup final in Cardiff on Sunday with no repeat of last year's traffic chaos.

There was no serious congestion as Blackburn and Tottenham fans arrived at the Millennium Stadium in plenty of time for the game.

Puddle outside the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Despite the rain there were few traffic problems

There was a touch of history as the game - which Blackburn won two-one - was played under the stadium's closed retractable roof because of heavy rain.

South Wales Police said they made five arrests following the match.

Three men from northern England were arrested for assaulting another man from the north of England.

One man from the Swansea area was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and another man from the north of England was arrested for a public order offence.

However, the whole event and policing operation has been hailed as a success, with officers reporting a 'carnival' atmosphere around the city and a good-natured attitude from the visiting fans of both teams.

A major traffic operation was organised following the embarrassing delays which marred the 2001 final.

Many fans missed the start of that game - the first major football event ever held at the Millennium Stadium.

Lessons learned

Senior officers said measures had been put in place to ensure there was no disruption to the build-up for the 2002 final.

The main traffic problem before the match was a tailback of around a mile on the M50 motorway in Herefordshire which held up some Blackburn fans travelling from the north of England.

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium
The Millennium Stadium is winning a good reputation

Police warned people to be patient on their way home on Sunday evening after the game.

They said the M4, rail services and all major routes heading north and east from Cardiff were likely to be busy.

But officers praised the behaviour of supporters, saying there had been no trouble and no arrests.

Last year, Birmingham and Liverpool fans held up in traffic congestion arrived angry and frustrated at the stadium having missed the first half of the match.

The police later admitted they had expected hundreds more coaches and rail passengers for the 2001 final and they were unprepared for the volume of cars.

There was speculation that any repeat of problems at the FA Cup three months later could have meant Cardiff's tenure as host for the trophies coming to a premature end.

But the 2001 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Liverpool - and subsequent games - passed off smoothly.

BBC Wales's Penny Roberts
"The Millenium Stadium has become the home of English soccer"
See also:

24 Feb 02 | Worthington Cup
Cole strike stuns Spurs
24 Feb 02 | Worthington Cup
Final goes under cover
30 Mar 01 | Wales
FA Cup anti-chaos travel plan
08 Apr 01 | UK
FA Cup sparks traffic fears
26 Feb 01 | Wales
Football fans clash in Cardiff
04 Jan 01 | Wales
FA Cup heads for Cardiff
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