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Brawls halt football match

THEY are two junior football teams with a history steeped in rivalry.

But the scenes of violence which marred a local league match between Cumnock Juniors and Auchinleck Talbot at the weekend was something people had hoped had been consigned to the past.

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Last night a meeting was arranged involving police, representatives of the two teams and league officials following a riot at the Scottish Junior Cup fourth-round match.

Three arrests were made at the match at Townhead Park in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, where some 2000 fans were in attendance.

The game, attended by mounted police officers, was stopped 10 minutes ahead of full time because of supporters encroaching on the pitch.

Those at the game, where Auchinleck Talbot won 3-0, described seeing men, women and children as young as 12 become embroiled in the violence.

As well as punches and kicks being thrown, some reported seeing people being assaulted with glass bottles.

Officers had already intervened when fans threw missiles into one corner of the crowd.

In a letter to the Scottish Junior Football Association (SJFA) and others, Auchinleck Talbot club secretary Henry Dumigan wrote that his team committee would be taking action against those who caused trouble.

He said: “Following the crowd disorder at the recent Cumnock Juniors v Auchinleck Talbot Emirates Cup Tie, the committee of Auchinleck Talbot FC would like to suggest meeting at the earliest possible date between representatives of the two clubs, the SJFA, the West Region and police in an effort to put an end to this disgraceful behaviour.

“The guilty persons are not junior football supporters but are troublemakers attracted to these games for the purpose of confrontation and disruption on a stage.”

One fan said: “I’ve never seen anything like this at a football match. Those involved are just mindless scum. Men, women and children from both sides were attacking each other and there were bottles flying.”

Another said: “I counted 15 police officers inside the park, four mounted police, three motor cycle officers and others outside and they did nothing to stop the neds from both sides clashing and both sides were as guilty.”

Cumnock Junior FC secretary George Morton said the two near-neighbouring East Ayrshire teams have a long history of violence linked to fierce rivalry.

Mr Morton said: “Violence like this hasn’t happened in years. There has been some trouble after the games in the pubs but there hasn’t been trouble on the pitch for years.

“It used to be common. We’re just hoping it’s not back, we were all really surprised to see it.”

Mr Morton put it down to insults getting “out of hand”.

He said: “It’s just the young folk I think. Young people just taunt at one another and it just gets a bit out of hand.”

He added: “I don’t think the police overreacted, they might have known something that we didn’t know before the game.”

A Strathclyde Police spokeswoman said there was an increased presence at the game due to historical issues of violence between fans and added that the arrests were related to breach of the peace, street drinking and drugs procession.

The clash has created a debate among football fans. Some posted internet comments on Scottish football forum, Pie and Bovril.

One post read: “The committees of these two clubs need to do far more to discourage the dregs of society that seem to be attracted to this kind of game.”

Another replied: “I really cannot see how any of the two committees can be blamed for this, if neds want to go and have a fight then they will.”

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