WORLD Cup football fans in Redditch watching the England in Tuesday night clash against Colombia were on their best behaviour – with all the high tension and skulduggery on the pitch rather than in town.
Redditch’s top cop Inspector Mark Chappell led an organised and committed group of officers out on patrol for the evening fixture, shadowed by Redditch Standard reporter Harry Leach and borough Mayor Juliet Brunner.
But instead of all the trouble, such as the ‘bus surfing’ that flared on Unicorn Hill the previous Sunday after their 6-1 victory over Panama, on this occasion officers were hugged by delighted England fans who danced with them in the street.
However the evening went well by design rather than accident.
To set the tone, before kick-off, officers visited various pubs in the town centre and offered plastic beer mugs to the landlords in a bid to avoid having glasses smashed by overzealous and emotional fans.
Once the game started, the Safer Neighbourhood Teams split up to cover more ground – travelling by car and on foot.
A wide range of pubs were visited – including The Old Sticky Wicket, Golden Cross, The Woodrow, The Winyates and The Royal Enfield.
Insp Chappell said: “It was important to increase the numbers of officers after England’s game against Panama.
“I was very upset to see that kind of behaviour in Redditch town centre.
“I want to make it clear that we have a zero-tolerance policy and any disturbance to the peace will not be tolerated.”
For the majority of the match it was fairly quiet and the people of Redditch responded well to an added police presence.
With the game almost finished, officers re-grouped and positioned themselves back in the town centre for the final whistle.
Everyone appeared to be in high-spirits until Colombia equalised with a goal in the 93rd minute to take the game to extra time.
The mood of the town quickly fell flat – with one man being ejected from the Royal Enfield by bouncers for being too rowdy.
With support from the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, the situation was quickly dealt with and the young man was sent on his way home.
Royal Enfield manager, Rob Browning, said: “We added a few extra doormen but generally everyone has been really positive.
“It’s been much better this week.
“I really appreciate the extra support from the police.”
In typical, tense English fashion the game went to penalties – but this time with a twist – England were actually victorious in the shootout.
Even the officers on patrol were able to watch the dying moments of the game through a resident’s nearby window – showing true community spirit.
This was followed by various drunken hugs from customers leaving the Royal Enfield, who began thanking officers for their hard work.
Mayor Councillor Brunner said: “We want people to enjoy themselves, drink responsibly and have a good time.
“Tonight has shown that Redditch is perfectly capable of doing that.
“I have no doubt that we had less trouble tonight because of the great policing carried out by Mark and his team.”
Councillor Gareth Prosser, portfolio holder for community safety said afterwards: “Congratulations to both the fans and the officers. I’ve been impressed by the level of police staffing and their high profile patrols. Excellent work.”