Friday, May 19, 2006

Finsbury Lark

Finsbury Lark
It was like escape from Finsbury Park starring Kurt Russell last night. Just after the final whistle that ended Arsenal’s hopes, police blockaded the traffic junction by the bus station at Finsbury Park, minutes from Highbury and right in the Arsenal heartland, with a number of crew vans and a CCTV unit. No southbound traffic could get through on Seven Sisters Road. Excuse me for talking outside my Forest remit, but I think this needs reporting.

Coming out of a flat just by the tube station and trying to make the ten minute journey back to my house was like entering a terrorist incident – all flashing blue lights, sirens and chanting. Gooner chanting. The police were being typically spurious with their advice. When asked how long until they moved their vans from one of north London’s busiest thoroughfares, “not very long” was the answer. Which out of walking home or waiting for the 259 bus, which I could see stranded behind the jam-sandwich vans, was the best option? I was told it was better to be “anywhere than here.” As you may have spotted the reply didn’t quite answer my question.

On the whole most Arsenal fans around Finsbury Park were in a jovial mood, given the circumstances, mostly celebratory at their sides’ impressive ten-man display, even if they didn’t return with the silverware. No doubt things would have been different if any rogue Tottenham fans had strayed through the crowds; the only one I knew of was keeping his feet, and his perma-grin, firmly inside the aforementioned flat.

The reasons behind this massive traffic mess was some people throwing “glasses and allsorts” according to one attending officer. I don’t want to give any support to violent football fans or the idiots that cause trouble after a result doesn’t go the way they want, they deserve everything they get, but very little actual trouble could be seen, the police really needn’t have parked five vans in the middle of the junction suspending all road based transport away from the scene. In effect they concentrated rather than dispersed the problem. On the Holloway Road some transport users reported waiting 35 minutes for a bus coming from Finsbury Park. My trip home took me the best part of an hour.

It appears the police had their post match battle plan pre-prepared and when a few misfits started acting up they put it into action. All of it. Britain is sending some coppers over to Germany this summer to help with World Cup policing, a good move I think. Lets just hope they take a more even-handed approach than was seen in North London last night and return looking less foolish than the idiots they’re trying to crack down on.

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