PUNCHES were thrown by both sets of fans during Grantham Town’s 4-2 loss to FC United of Manchester as fan violence briefly marred an excellent fixture.
The atmosphere prior to the game was electric and good-humoured, with the away side bringing an estimated 700 fans to The Gingerbreads’ 500.
The terracing at the Meres - usually home to a small pocket of hardcore Gingerbread fans - was split in half to allow both sets of fans access but the FC United contingent far outnumbered around 150 Town supporters.
Both sets of fans were chanting towards each other with FC United of Manchester fans singing “We are United” and Town supporters retorting with “You’re not United” but there was no sign of the atmosphere boiling over until Town took a surprise early lead through Paul Grimes.
Both sets of supporters were divided only by a handful of volunteer stewards and a thin line of red and white tape - neither of which could prevent the two sets of fans coming together.
Punches were thrown by a handful of supporters from either side with those from FC United coming into the less heavily populated Grantham Town section.
What sparked the violence is not clear although at least one Grantham Town fan ran to the front of the terracing to goad the FC United fans after Grimes’ opener.
The Journal spotted at least two Grantham Town fans suffering from cuts to the face after the melee, which was over in a matter of seconds, while another couple had swollen features.
Police quickly arrived on the scene and at least two Grantham Town supporters were ejected from the ground.
The remainder of the game passed without any further clashes thanks in no small part to the efforts of the stewards and the presence of police.
Grantham Town chairman Steve Boam:
“I think my stewards handled it very well.
“We have learned a few things from this fixture - putting a bigger segragation between supporters and what have you.
“I think the police handled it very well.
“We well know who these people are and they will be banned from this football ground.”
Grantham Town joint manager Jimmy Albans:
“I think foot ball at any level, when you have had a few beers and it’s the first game of the season and everyone is buzzing and the lads have been on the way down from Manchester, and our lads...at the end of the day let the authorities and people like that deal with it.
“I’m not really interested in it to be honest.”
Grantham Town joint manager Wayne Hallcro said:
“I saw that there was a bit of a scuffle at the back - not too much I don’t think.
“I think the stewards did a good job. I think it was a mixture of excitement, reflief and booze.
“The ugly side of the game so I don’t want to talk too much about that to be honest because I think it marrs what’s been a really good day for both teams, for the club and especially me and Jimmy.”
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