The Dream is Over

The English were fighting a battle on two fronts at this World Cup. One, as a team, and the other, as fans.

The latter ended tonight as the riot police charged on English fans in the Aldstadt part of Cologne.

I left my flat after the Spanish game and made my way to the the Heumarkt FanFest, where there were two big groups of fans in good song. All of a sudden, riot police brushed past all of us and toward the area outside Peter´s Brauhaus.

They formed a cordon around I´m not sure what, but in the corner close to one of the Irish bars, a lot of running was occurring.

I went towards the scene, where conversation between English fans was happening. “I can´t believe they kicked off” said one, “They started it and we´ll finish it said another”. “Spread the word” could be heard filtering through. One by one some English fans removed their shirts.

All of a sudden, game to the baiting, the riot police ran towards me and the English fans.

I ran to the side, but could not believe what I saw before me. The riot police ran 20 yards towards the English and were relentless in their clubbing. As I ran out of the way the cover to my phone fell off. After only perhaps 30 seconds of chasing that wave finished.

I was recording the events on my phone alongside a Croation news team. Then the police came back in a wave and a riot policeman knocked my to the floor as I searched for my mobile phone cover. I was wearing just a striped Puma t-shirt and jeans, nothing overtly English.

This was definitely a 2-way link. The atmosphere was noticeably worse than other matches I have witnessed. I spoke in German to a few police officers who said there had been no trouble but it could turn in an instant.

That instant happened and all of a sudden I raced to the scene. Every English person on the fringes who weren´t involved in the goading said that it happened out of nothing. The riot police appeared out of nowhere for the same minor glash-smashing-on-the-ground offences of the fans, nothing more than had happened all night.

But the sight of the riot police excited a few fans, who took of the tops and told everyone around them to “Stand your ground”.

They shouting for the riot police to run towards them which they duly did, and the rest will be tomorrow mornings headlines.

A peaceful night, turned upside down by drunk fans and over-eager policemen,.

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10 responses to “The Dream is Over

  1. I hope there would be no violence should England meet Germany in the second round.

  2. Quoted on BBC Sport article mate.

  3. Hi Joe,
    I linked to your post this morning off our world cup blog – and it’s caused a bit of debate. Fancy commenting yourself?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldcup/2006/06/eye_witness_account_of_cologne_1.html#commentsanchor

  4. Ticketless in Tilburg

    Don’t have much luck with mobile phones, do you Joe?

  5. Big Sis Julia

    Glad your ok!
    You and your mobile phone!!!!
    Keep safe (and speaking German to nasty police officers!)
    See you soon
    Julia
    XxX

  6. Hi Joe,

    working for German media in Cologne, I phoned the police tonight to find out what happened. Moreover, one of my colleagues happened to be at the Alter Markt and told me about the incident.

    The police spotted some well-known German hooligans in one of the bars. These guys seemed to be planning something and so the police decided to arrest them. Everything went fine until black-clad riot police turned up. Their appearance seems to have provoked some (English and German) fans to throw glasses and chairs. From then on it must have been over-eagerness from both sides. My colleague told me that in his eyes the police over-reacted. Guess we’ll hear more about it tomorrow. As far as I know the police arrested 45 German hooligans.

    Hope that – in spite of this ugly incident – you are still having a good time in Cologne.

    Cheers, Anja

  7. didnt the same thing happen in the 80’s where the german police and the german citizens started all the trouble with the brits? i saw it on SKY on a show about soccer hooligans. amazing how history repeats itself…

  8. hey joe,

    am a german reporter working for a daily in berlin. is there any chance of talking to you briefly today (wednesday)? we will cover a story about the new love between brits and germans.

    if possible please reply to my email.

    many thanks, michael

  9. I was in Cologne on Monday night and witnessed some trouble after an English fan fell from a monument. I was at the base of the monument just after he fell, we called the police over to help him out. Unfortunately they were dressed in full riot gear and some yobs obviously misunderstood the situation and started throwing bottles. Fortunately the police did a good job and although things were tense for a while the partying soon continued. Does anyone know what happened to the fan that fell. On Tuesday I joined German fans at the Heumarkt fanfest where I became an “Honarary German” for a couple of hours and even led chants of “Deutschland, Deutschland” during quieter moments. After making many new friends I crossed the river and watched the England game. Then the party really started. All I can say is thank you Germany and the people of Cologne, I hope to come back to your lovely city soon. By the way could you please provide cushions for people who sleep in the station next time.

  10. I thank you for your comment.

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