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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Joint probe launched into trouble
Vicarage Road
Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes at Vicarage Road.
The Football Association and Football League have launched a joint investigation into the crowd violence at Watford's Worthington Cup tie with Luton.

Running battles were fought between rival supporters on the pitch when around 50 Luton fans jumped advertising hoardings at the away end prior to kick-off, which was delayed by 15 minutes.

One supporter was rushed to Watford General Hospital with a head wound after the skirmishes, and two arrests were made.

Police in riot gear eventually restored order, but the match went ahead and a minute's silence planned to mark the victims of 11 September was scrapped.

The FA is awaiting reports from Hertfordshire police and match referee Peter Walton, but will investigate the violence.

Spokesman Adrian Bevington said: "We have to wait for the match official's report and police reports but we are now investigating serious crowd trouble."

The Football League are also in discussions with the FA over what course of action to take.

League spokesman Ian Christon said: "We have called for reports from the teams and the police etc.


I thought we'd got rid of all this years ago
Watford boss Ray Lewington

"We are liaising very closely with the Football Association who are responsible for disciplinary matters surrounding crowd trouble.

"We understand they have also started their own investigation."

Watford are also investigating the incident, which followed disorder in Watford town centre prior to the match.

A club statement read: "Watford Football Club is currently discussing the events with various organisations both inside and outside the club, including the police.

"When we are in possession of all the facts it is our intention to comment."

Watford and Luton are bitter rivals but had not met each other for four years.

Police were called to disorder in Watford town centre before the game.

Watford manager Ray Lewington was appalled by the violence, and admitted he thought the club had eradicated the hooligan element.

Lewington said: "We don't want it. Young kids come and watch games. It's terrible. I thought we'd got rid of all this years ago."


The more you talk about the dummies the more you encourage them
Luton boss Joe Kinnear

There was a heavy police presence outside Vicarage Road, but it was left to helpless stewards to try to keep the rioters apart inside the ground after the pitch invasion.

And it was five minutes before riot police emerged from the players' tunnel to take control of the situation.

A Hertfordshire police spokesman said: "A number of individuals were able to gain access to the pitch but a heavy police presence before the game ensured the disorder was dealt with quickly."

Luton manager Joe Kinnear played down the trouble, and admitted he kept his players in the dark to help them concentrate on the match.

He said: "We didn't know anything until we were coming out and we got a message from the ref saying it was an 2000 BST kick-off.

"I told the players it was to let the fans in. They didn't need to know what was going on. They had to focus on the game. We didn't speak about it.

"No-one likes it but it happens everywhere, not just here but in most countries.

"Why should we give the 50 idiots any acknowledgement? The more you talk about the dummies the more you encourage them."


 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Gordon Farquhar
"Tensions were high before the match"
Watford chief executive Tim Shaw
"It was a traumatic experience for our supporters"

Wednesday's games

First round - Tuesday
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