‘Hand to hand’ fighting after derby game

Police escort Coleraine fans.
Police escort Coleraine fans.

Trouble erupted after Wednesday’s quarter final game between derby rivals Ballymena United and Coleraine with rival groups clashing outside the Showgrounds and in other parts of the town.

Witnesses noted that scores of Coleraine fans- many of them with their faces covered- were escorted from the train station to the stadium and then back by a heavy police presence.

On social media there were reports of clashes between groups of fans in the old social club car park with one person describing it as ‘the worst trouble they had seen at a derby for some time.’

According to one witness there were further incidents on the North Road.

One man who saw the police escorting Coleraine supporters towards the train station said a they were surrounded by police officers and vehicles.

“I don’t know what this is costing us. Just to ensure that a crowd of stupid wee fools who think they are in some cheapo movie can act our their fantasies. It is time that the police and the rail people denied these clowns access to the trains - it is always a recipe for trouble.”

Another witness said that there had been ‘hand to hand fighting’ outside the ground as both sets of fans emerged.

The fixture which has a history of disturbances is rarely held at night and with this being an important game there was a larger crowd than usual.

Coleraine won the match 2-1 knocking Ballymena United out of the JBE League Cup.
On previous encounters, a number of premises had been damaged including one bar having windows smashed.