Investigative Journalism

What Started That Massive Brawl in a West Country Wetherspoons?

Alcohol, obviously. But what else?
15 February 2017, 3:12pm

(Top image: Screen shots from a video of the Wetherspoons fight, via)

Wetherspoons pubs, like basically every single pub in existence, have seen their fair share of fights. But this weekend saw possibly the biggest mass brawl in a Wetherspoons to date, in a branch in Trowbridge, a town not far from Bath.

This wasn't your standard "some guy's knocked over a coked-up regular's Stella and so of course he's immediately glassed him" job. This was a full on, Costco-sized platter of knuckle sandwiches. Mind you, despite the fact about 100 people were involved, there are rumours of a knife being confiscated at one point and a couple of people had to take a trip to the local A&E, no one was seriously injured.

A man named Tommy Arkle managed to film it so you can see it all for yourself:

So what sparked all the commotion?

The first piece of evidence to check out is the video itself. It's hard to see much beyond all the arms and fists and Vardy haircuts, but what's clear is that a lot of people are very, very angry. Some 80s-sounding tune appears to be playing on the jukebox. Could a dodgy song pick have started the fight? It's certainly not unheard of.

Also note the man in the blue hoody, calmly walking through the madness. Let's call him The Stroller. It appears that The Stroller is headed towards the bar, and as far as I can see he faces very little resistance – the fighting crowd parting for him almost biblically. Might he have provoked the scrap somehow as a ruse to get past the queue for a pint? It's possible, but this is all conjecture. Half-baked conclusions based on circumstantial evidence.

No. Enough of that. Instead, I needed to speak to some witnesses.

One fight attendee I found on Facebook, who asked not to be named, told me he "heard shouting, and by the time I'd turned around it had already kicked off, with about 20 people to start with. I don't have a clue why it started. My mate got bottled at the bar waiting for a drink."

Another attendee, Connor, said it started "with a couple of guys fighting, with their friends getting involved, and within seconds random people were taking hits. The fight got so big everyone was punching to protect their friendship group." Conor hypothesises that it "could have been a disagreement at the bar, by the sounds of it".

Someone inadvertently spilling a small drop of a pint on an angry dickhead's shoes? A punter squeezing lime into their Corona, and a bit of that lime juice squirting into the same angry dickhead's eye? The mind wanders.

Jess, who was also there at the time, reckons it started with a "small fight [that] didn't get broken up quickly enough", adding "there were a lot of rugby players who were involved in the fight, trying to prove that they were man enough". Thankfully, Jess managed to "hold onto" her vodka-Red Bull.

We're a bit stuck here, aren't we, lads?

No bother: The Sun reckon they've found the culprit. Pasted verbatim from their coverage:

Corey Aitken, 23, who is 6ft 4in tall, was on a lads' birthday night out when he says another punter squared up to him at the bar.

The pair rowed over each other's heights before the 5ft 5in rival dealt a blow to Corey's nose out of the blue.

Corey told The Sun Online: "I didn't feel anything so I just started laughing. Then his mates jumped me and started throwing punches."

After being whacked across the back of the head and belted on the mouth, Corey managed to duck out of the fight – and watched as his confused attacker started battering another unsuspecting reveller.

So was it a case of mistaken identity? Perhaps. But it's so hard to tell what's fact when you're reading "the nation's favourite paper".

You know what it really comes down to? The fact there were a lot of men in one room, drinking a lot of beer. Fifty-three percent of all violent incidents in the UK are caused by people drinking too much and getting into scraps, mostly over absolutely nothing at all.

Still, in a last ditch effort to find a definitive answer, I called up the Wetherspoons where the fight took place. "We will not comment on this, and you won't get any answers from us," said the voice on the other end of the line. No dice.

I guess, for now, this will just have to remain another one of life's great mysteries.