Birthday treat marred by football violence

Morecambe fans celebrate the Mark Hughes goal
Morecambe fans celebrate the Mark Hughes goal

A birthday treat for a 13-year-old Morecambe fan turned into horror after fighting broke out between fans after the game.

Paul Aspinall, who lives in Heysham, took his son Jack and two of Jack’s friends to watch Tranmere Rovers v Morecambe at Prenton Park on the Wirral on Saturday.

The trip was a treat to celebrate Morecambe High School pupil Jack’s birthday two days’ earlier.

But at the end of an ill-tempered game which saw Shrimps captain Mark Hughes sent off and Morecambe lose to a last minute goal, Morecambe fans were faced with a gang of home supporters looking for trouble as they tried to leave the ground.

An incident had already flared up during the game involving Tranmere fans sitting close to the Morecambe bench.

Mr Aspinall said: “It was meant to be a special day out to celebrate my son’s birthday.

“We have been to all the Morecambe home games for the last couple of seasons but this was the first time, other than Fleetwood, that we have travelled to an away game – what a mistake.

“I thought football hooligans were a thing of the past and that it’s safe for families to go watch football games, but definitely not at Tranmere Rovers.”

As Mr Aspinall and the boys joined the 350 Morecambe fans leaving the ground, they spotted a group of around 30-40 Tranmere fans blocking their exit.

He said: “As we came out there was an angry mob of Tranmere supporters blockading the exit from the outside and attacking anyone who dared step outside.

“This very quickly descended into a mass brawl as the Tranmere mob attempted to charge inside where all the Morecambe fans were trapped.

“I pushed the boys to the back and was considering escaping back up into the stand, however the police arrived and slammed the exit doors closed, locking the Morecambe fans inside.

“When the doors re-opened 10 minutes later the outside street was being heaviliy policed and the Morecambe fans were told to head immediately to their coaches, which were in the safe direction away from the Tranmere supporters, who were still there in some numbers.

“Unfortunately I had travelled by car and it was parked in the same direction as the Tranmere supporters!

“Both my son and myself were wearing our new Morecambe football shirts and we hadn’t brought coats so couldn’t cover up the shirts.

“I decided to hang back for another 10 minutes to give us a chance, but was told by Tranmere club officials to leave the area immediately.

“So we set off, fearing for our lives, walking towards where the car was parked.

“Fortunately we only encountered two Tranmere fans who shouted a few insults but ignoring this we found the car and made a very quick escape.”

Mr Aspinall said the incident left them all shaken up.

He said: “The boys were clearly scared. I didn’t even stop to set up the sat nav – the boys just told me to go so we got the hell out of there.

“This isn’t an experience I’d like to repeat and spoiled what was otherwise an enjoyable game of football.

“I definitely wouldn’t go back to Tranmere, and I think from our experience there’s some logic in going with the official coaches because there’s safety in numbers.

“I am sure this was only a minority of Tranmere fans and most will have gone home happy with the result but unfortunately some of them decided to come around and cause trouble.”