John Helm: Don't bring back the bad old days
I AM becoming increasingly concerned about the return of football hooliganism.
Over the past ten days York City’s players have been put in fear of their lives at Luton, a Crystal Palace defender has been manhandled at Hillsborough, the Burton and Grimsby players were under threat in a key relegation game, and there seem to have been pitch invasions everywhere.
At Leeds and Blackpool it was good natured flooding of the pitch by fans ecstatic about a particular result, though I shudder to think what might have happened at Elland Road if Bristol Rovers had won, and Millwall had gone up instead.
I mentioned the Grimsby fans coming on before the final whistle at Blundell Park the previous week – an obvious response to the "Keep off the pitch" pre-match appeal which always seems to inspire the opposite.
Grimsby are a most hospitable club, I’ve always enjoyed going there, but a small section of their disciples besmirched the name of the Mariners at Burton and I hope they are apprehended and banned for life.
I know there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance of this happening, and realise it’s not a popular thing for me to say in Huddersfield right now, but I still question the wisdom of the play-offs.
I know we’ve got used to them, I know they are massive money-spinners, and I know the clubs know the rules at the start of the season, but I still hold fast to the belief that the three teams who have amassed the most points over 46 matches should be promoted.
In Unibond League One Lancaster City were in the top two all season – along with Halifax Town – but lost the play-off final to Colwyn Bay who finished 21 points behind them!
That can’t be right, and as someone said to me the other day it’s like a marathon runner getting to the finish 20 minutes ahead of someone else and then being asked to wait to let another runner through to take his place on the podium.
I link these last few paragraphs with the danger of hooliganism being on the rise, because the more important the occasion, and the greater the feeling of injustice, the more chance there is of trouble.