A couple of weeks ago, Villa supporter James Myers posted on MOMS Facebook a collection of pictures documenting the making of a Villa-themed St Georges flag, that he and his partner Fay Bryant had made to take to France for Euro 2016. Fast-forward to England’s first game in Marseille and Fay got in touch with MOMS, when the trouble went down to give us an account of what happened on the day of the match, after she wasn’t happy with the English authorities initially blaming England fans for the ruckus.
The couple had travelled out aiming for a fun few days in Marseille for the Russia game, but experienced some unexpected unsavoury events.
‘I am glad I went to France for the Euros but it was intensely scary, running from an attacking Russian mob, hurling missiles.’
By Faye Bryant
I was in Marseille, where English fans had been subjected to violent attacks by Russian and local French (Olympique Marseille ultras) yobs, who both really belong in the 80’s. What happened is being put on the English fans, but the English are being targeted by these other groups and then getting tear gassed by the Police for the privilege.
Russian Surprise Attack…
Yeah, England fans were surprised. [England fans] were loud and boisterous before it happened, but it was mostly all in good fun. All the local French people seemed to be really enjoying it all, coming up for photos and taking pictures with flags etc. Russians came up too, lots of nationalities in fact, and it was like a carnival atmosphere (see video below, 10-15 minutes before attack).
We then just saw a mass of people running towards us, then saw bottles coming over and landing about a metre away from our feet. At first, we wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, but then run to the safety of a nearby cafe. We were in the cafe for about 25 minutes. Then we tried to move to a side street to get away, then more tear gas was fired and we could feel our eyes start to water. We retreated further away and found a bar probably 15 minute walk from a metro station. It had probably been an hour before we saw a convoy of police arrive down the road to the problem area.
Did the Villa St George Flag Survive?
Yes. after James got me into the cafe (brown cafe in main top picture), he then ran back out to get the flag! One rope had been torn off, but it was ok.
Police Indifference to Russian Attack
The police didn’t want to know about it and their main action was just to gas everyone. It felt very menacing and I was worried about going to the game later. Everyone was aware that the Olympique Marseille ultras were also going around causing trouble too.
There was an air of fear, but that possibly created even more camaraderie.
At the Stadium
I couldn’t take my sun cream into the ground, yet the Russians got flares and explosives in there, and their MMA gloves and gum shields. When getting into the ground, a Russian guy behind me started on some French guys and I pointed him out, in French, to the police, and the police man just shrugged his shoulders at me. I think England fans felt generally demonised and unsafe.
When the flares were let off by Russian fans, they were blatantly stood holding them and the French police did nothing. At the end of the game, we stood at the other end and watched Russian fans fight through stewards and attack English fans. What followed was English fans frantically running away and climbing off the end of the stand to escape them, it then started moving throughout the ground.
The police/security presence inside and outside the ground was minimal and generally rubbish.
They didn’t attempt to manage or communicate with people, they just tear-gassed them. Even if they wanted to steer them down a particular street, in the absence of any trouble.
There were Russians absolutely kicking the cr*p out of a French guy on the floor and it was English fans who pulled him out. Also how dare the Shadow Home Secretary say in light of the terror alert in France, English fans should be ashamed; the English didn’t attack the Russians and bring explosives into the stadium.
In light of the terror alert in France, the French authorities should be thoroughly ashamed as should the Russians that caused the problems.
I am glad I went to France for the Euros but it was intensely scary, running from an attacking Russian mob, hurling missiles, and having to seek shelter in a café, whilst tear gas came through the doors. French people, who were also sheltering in the cafe, were saying between themselves that the English weren’t being aggressive, they were just having fun and playing. I experienced tear gas four times on the day of the Russia game and it was awful.
Thanks to Faye & James for the words and pics, and hopefully they’ll have a less stressful time when they return to France for England’s final game against Slovakia.
Follow MOMS on Twitter at @oldmansaid