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Comment: Cardiff 2 Leeds United 1
Opinion by Sky commentator, Andy Gray, 7th Jan 2002

I was at Ninian Park on Sunday and I saw nothing to suggest that the vast majority of Cardiff fans were not very well-behaved indeed. They were understandably excited to have beaten Leeds in the FA Cup but, apart from a small minority of idiots, people were celebrating rather than looking for trouble.

Reports are suggesting that there were full-scale pitch invasions but there was never anyone on the pitch during the game, and the stewards made the decision to open the gates and allow the fans onto the pitch to celebrate as soon as they realised that a few would have been determined to do that anyway.

The chief of police in Cardiff was satisfied with the way his officers controlled the supporters, and I was satisfied that things were being handled well from my position up in the TV gantry. If the powers-that-be were sitting alongside me during the game, there would be little talk of sanctions for the so-called pitch invasion.

I saw nothing in the way of fighting between the two sets of fans, and there was certainly nothing like the rioting some newspapers would have you believe took place. A few Cardiff fans did try to bait supporters in the Leeds section but that was, like I said, a few idiots, and any problems seemed to be controlled well by the police.


People are saying that Sam Hammam contributed to the problems, but Sam was only doing what he has been doing for the last 20 years. I watched him walk around the outside of the pitch and he didn't gesture, he didn't taunt, he just walked around. If that is against the rules then someone should have told him before now, because he does that every week.

The only thing I saw that I wasn't comfortable with was the throwing of coins and bottles at players - when they are only two yards away from the crowd there's a real danger that they could get hurt. If there's going to be any action taken at all, then it should be against those responsible for those acts of violence.

The good thing about all the fuss is that it reminds you how unusual scenes like Sunday's are in modern football. When I was at my playing peak in the early Eighties that was how football fans behaved all the time. But thankfully, the fans have been re-educated and most realise that it is not the way to behave.

That's something we can all be thankful for. When you get a big English club going to Cardiff there is always the possibility there will be some trouble. Although the atmosphere wasn't frightening, there was certainly an edge to it right from the off.

But the picture being painted in some quarters was a far cry from what I saw - and I was at the ground for four or five hours. What is sad to see is the sight of fans running onto the pitch during a game, as happened at Villa Park, but I think the manner of the comeback simply saw the Manchester United fans get a little over-excited.

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