A screenshot of the brawl, via Twitter user @LiamNash1
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
A non-league soccer match in East London was called off last night after fascists started a brawl, throwing bottles, bricks, signs, and a fire extinguisher as a police helicopter hovered overhead and riot cops attended the scene. According to eyewitnesses, the attackers were chanting: "We hate n*****s."
Clapton FC were playing their final friendly of the season away at the home ground of Thamesmead in southeast London, but it was called off shortly after kick-off because of the ruckus. Both clubs have distanced themselves from the violence, saying it was down to supporters of the far right.
Clapton FC has become known in recent years for their group of left-wing fans, the "Clapton Ultras." They have anti-fascist icons on their flags, and are antiracist, antisexist, antihomophobic… basically anti all that bad stuff. Thanks to them, the atmosphere at some Clapton games can be loud and raucus, but any jokes about the opposition keeper aren't about him looking like a "poof" or whatever.
This zero-tolerance-for-being-an-asshole policy has attracted the attention of the kind of people who can't stand the idea of the soccer experience lacking a bit of pitch-side racism. A while back we informed you about the English far-right's war against anti-fascist soccer ultras. Last night, another battle took place. Clapton fans were attacked as they entered the Thamesmead ground, in what looks like a real-life version of one of those soccer hooligan films.
The above video is pretty blurry, but you can make out stuff being thrown and people generally giving each other a hard time. You can also hear the chant "We hate n*****s."
A statement from the Clapton Ultras reads: "As we arrived at the game around 15 minutes after kick off and began to enter, Clapton fans were immediately attacked with weapons and missiles by a large group already present inside the ground, who threw glasses, bottles, bricks, signs, and a fire extinguisher at Clapton fans, the vast majority of which had not been able to even enter the ground. In addition to causing minor injury the missiles damaged several parked cars in the car park outside the ground. Thankfully no one was seriously injured.
"Clapton fans have no history or rivalry with Thamesmead fans and this attack was not made by Thamesmead fans. The attackers sang racist chants as they pelted Clapton fans with missiles. This was a planned attack, orchestrated by fascists and their allies as a politically motivated assault on Clapton fans for our politics of anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-racism, and anti-fascism. Their interest was never in the football and they only attended the game in order to attack us."
Thamesmead police are clearly well on top of their intelligence game, initially blaming Clapton fans for the disturbance, something they later apologized for.
Their charmingly indiscreet social media guy then admitted maybe they did have the intel, but the guys who deal with fascist hooligans had clocked off for the night or something. Meanwhile, far-right hooligan group the Pie and Mash Squad have been celebrating the attack on their social media accounts.
In a statement to local newspaper the News Shopper , Clapton FC chief executive, Vincent McBean, said: "There was some walking wounded on both sides, cuts to the head from flying debris, but nothing more serious I understand. One Clapton fan went to hospital for treatment as a precaution.
"Thamesmead Town, the club or their fans, were not involved and were very apologetic, and Clapton would like to thank them for all their efforts and the hospitality provided. Clapton will be looking at the security of our supporters with the help of the police and other experts.
"Our stance to welcome everyone regardless of race, color, creed, etc will always remain. There is a lot of information on social media regarding last night, some are very concerning, the football family and the authorities must address this."
The Clapton Ultras are calling on all those who stand against fascism to join them this season, and to go to their home game on August 15 against Stanway Rovers.
Follow Simon on Twitter.