Police U's operation hailed a success

By Ted JeoryPOLICE claimed victory last night after their major anti-football hooligan operation resulted in only a handful of arrests.There had been fears organised gangs of hardcore hooligans would bring trouble to the streets of Colchester as the town's football team played rivals Southend United in a big derby match.

By Ted Jeory

POLICE claimed victory last night after their major anti-football hooligan operation resulted in only a handful of arrests.

There had been fears organised gangs of hardcore hooligans would bring trouble to the streets of Colchester as the town's football team played rivals Southend United in a big derby match.

More then 100 officers from across the county were deployed in Operation Polstead last night to prevent outbreaks of trouble that had been a feature of recent fixtures between the two sides.


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While the atmosphere before the LDV Vans Trophy Southern Final first leg was one of eager anticipation, the mood turned ugly after the game as more than 5,000 fans streamed out of Layer Road.

In a heated stand-off outside the Drury Arms, U's fans chanted abuse at some Southend supporters who had slipped away from the main group on the club's official coaches.

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But police officers, some of whom had been deployed with dogs, prevented any outbreak of widespread trouble.

Four arrests were made, three for drink-related offences and one for criminal damage to a door at the Layer Road pub. A number of fans had also been ejected from the ground for causing trouble.

Inspector Tony Dale, of Colchester police, praised fans for their behaviour and said the Layer Road stewards had done an outstanding job.

Mick Steele, who was in charge of the 98 stewards on duty at Colchester United, added: “We had been worried about the match, but we put in extra efforts and I'm pleased how it all turned out.”

The U's lost the first leg 3-2 and travel to Roots Hall on February 17 aiming to overcome their south Essex rivals and claim a place in the final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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