Dogs and riot police line Kenilworth Road to stop non-existent threat of violence.
When the draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup came out, everyone was stunned at the Luton v Millwall tie, as memories of the 1985 riot returned.
On that day, Millwall fans invaded the pitch and ran into the Luton stands, ripping seats off their hinges and throwing them onto the pitch. Shadows of that day are still visible now, as seats are now nothing more than a square piece of plastic with no backs to them.
Today, the threat of violence was very low. Whilst there was all the talk beforehand and the usual trading of insulting songs between fans, there was no obvious signs of violence.
The heavy presence of police that separated the fans seemed to be enough, as Millwall fans seemed happy with just celebrating their deserved win with the players.
However it was when riot police and dog handlers then lined the sidelines and pitch was when it became a joke, and an embarrassment to be at the game. The money spent on these heavy duty police officers would have been taken straight out of the funds Luton would have made during their cup run, and it is a shame that they have had to waste some of it on needless security.
There is a suggestion that had those riot police not been there, then trouble would have instantly happened. In this era though, it seemed a little excessive to have such a visible police force, when those lining the gap between opposing fans seemed adequate.
Regardless of the history of violence both of these teams have as individual clubs and between each other, football has moved on from the hooliganism of the 1980’s and is now a place where families attend as a group, with violence no longer the issue.
It is a clear indication that once you get the reputation of a violent club, it is never shaken away, and for the foreseeable future at least, Luton will always be tarred with that violent brush.