By Tim Harrison
There was something disturbing, yet oddly nostalgic, about the aftermath of Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with West Ham at the weekend.
The Blues deserved nothing from a game that the Irons comprehensively bossed. In fact, it appeared the only possibility of Chelsea scoring was from set-pieces.
So it proved. A magnificent curling free kick and a sly penalty from Cesc Fabregas provided equalisers to far classier goals in open play by the Hammers – including a goal-of-the-month contender from Manuel Lanzini; a breathtaking scooped shot.
The penalty, awarded when Reuben Loftus-Cheek was tripped by Michail Antonio, came in the 88th minute, then Chelsea clung on for the point.
Come back with me to the 1970s and 80s, when terracing still ringed the ends of Stamford Bridge. Had West Ham been winning with two minutes remaining, only to have victory snatched away, there would have been uproar.
The Chicken Run boys would have streamed out and round the stadium for toecap-to-toecap discussions with their oppos from the Shed.
The boys in blue would have steamed in, order would have eventually been restored, and everyone would have repaired to their respective boozers to write folk songs about the occasion.
The Met Police’s accepted tactic, if a confrontation between rival fans is likely, is to hold the away fans in for a quarter of an hour, to allow the home supporters to disperse, then release the detainees.
For some reason it didn’t happen last weekend. Perhaps the bobbies felt that fighting was a thing of the past.
But skirmishes were breaking out all over the place in Fulham Road as everyone whooshed out together, and the parents of some of the younger fans were understandably concerned.
A straggling line of coppers in hi-vis jackets is simply inadequate when set against a long and serious history.
Someone miscalculated, and we were briefly back to an era that most thought we’d left behind.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham