Fans’ ugly behaviour is not just about football – it’s about society | Jonathan Wilson

Pitch invasions could be joyous eruptions of glee if not for idiots who reflect a Them and Us world of rising violent crime

Roker Park, the final game of 1989-90. Sunderland were sure of their place in the playoffs; Oldham knew they would miss out, largely because of the strains of an extraordinary season in which they had reached the League Cup final and the FA Cup semi-finals. Oldham won 3-2 and, as the final whistle went, home fans invaded the pitch.

Slowly they made for the corner of the Roker End where the away fans were housed. I was on the terrace a few yards away and remember clearly the sense of sudden anxiety as my dad gripped my arm and started to make for the exit. But then something remarkable happened. The invaders stopped a few yards from the corner flag, raised their hands above their heads and clapped, a salute for Oldham’s extraordinary season that would end with nothing.

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