Football fans claim they saw teenagers pushed and men being hit with police batons during heavy-handed tactics by police at a Chester FC away match.
Supporters have accused Greater Manchester Police (GMP) of being over the top claiming they were left battered and bruised following ‘chaos’ outside Edgeley Park stadium before the FA Cup tie on Saturday, October 25.
Blues and Stockport County fans contacted The Chronicle following the match, with one man saying he was left in ‘excruciating pain’ after being hit several times in the legs while waiting to get into the ground with his son.
But GMP have defended the actions of their officers saying their response was ‘justified’ and ‘proportionate’, in light of a number of incidents involving fans from both clubs who they say were ‘intent on antagonising each other and inciting violence’.
Police say they stepped up their response after incidents including a man being struck across the face with a glass and fans behaving in an intimidating manner in front of families out shopping with their children in Stockport.
Fans claim the chaos ensued as police pushed supporters who were trying to get through the turnstiles before kick-off.
Alan Byrne, 52, of Huntington, claims he had to be helped into the stadium by his son after being hit across the back of the legs several times with a baton.
The company director said: “As we neared the ground, suddenly the police became agitated and started to push people around and the whole situation became chaotic.
“I started to appeal to the police officers to calm down as it was obvious the chaos was being caused by them.
“For shouting ‘calm down’ at an officer, I was physically assaulted two or three times with a truncheon across the back of my legs.
“My son ran to my aid and we managed to get away from the thuggery of the police officers.
“I was in excruciating pain and clearly could not walk.”
One supporter sent a picture of a large bruise on his backside which he claims was inflicted by an officer who hit him as he was walking close to the stadium on the day of the match.
And a 22-year-old Stockport fan said: “I have been a fan for 10 years and never seen anything like this, it was disgusting.”
Superintendent Stuart Barton said: “It was evident before the Stockport vs Chester game that a number of supporters from both clubs were intent on antagonising each other and inciting violence.
“Given the aggressive atmosphere, our policing style had to change and we adopted proportionate tactics in order to calm the situation down and prevent innocent people who were there simply to watch the game from being hurt.
“It is always a shame when people attend football fixtures looking to cause trouble and deliberately incite other fans, which ruins the enjoyment of the game for everyone else.
“Our policing response was justified and proportionate in the circumstances our officers faced, but if anyone wants to make an official complaint they can do so and it will be investigated.”