THE mass brawl which erupted on the Royal Mile saw Hibs casuals ambush football hooligans linked to Rangers and Hearts, it was revealed today.
An advance guard of Hibs fans were sent to the pub where the Rangers and Hearts fans were drinking – to act as bait and lure them to a CCTV blind spot.
They were then jumped by a rearguard of Hibs fans who laid into the fans who only seconds before had been chasing their “prey” with glee.
A source said: “This was a ploy so nothing would get caught on CCTV.”
Witnesses said that a number of Rangers and Hearts hooligans had been drinking in The Mitre Bar on the Royal Mile, including some notorious “faces” from the Glasgow casual scene.
A group of up to 30 young Hibs casuals are understood to have learned of their presence in the city centre and quickly assembled in nearby Niddry Street.
Some of the Hibs hooligans “lured” the Rangers and Hearts fans out of the pub by shouting at them from the street, challenging them to a fight.
The ensuing melee, caught on camera by a passer-by and later posted on YouTube, saw bottles hurled, punches thrown and one combatant kicked in the face as he lay on the ground on the historic thoroughfare.
But the Rangers and Hearts fans then disappeared off camera down Niddry Street where the worst of the fighting allegedly took place with the waiting Hibs thugs.
Witnesses said that a number of men were knocked unconscious during that savage street battle.
A witness said: “The Rangers and Hearts casuals were nothing to do with the march, they were just looking for bother.
“The Hibs casuals found out about it and they must’ve had quick ring round to get together a group to confront them.
“The Hibs guys lured them out the pub and there was bottles and other things being thrown about. But the Hibs casuals wouldn’t come on to the Royal Mile because they know there’s CCTV cameras up there.
“They stayed in Niddry Street and the worst of the fighting took place down there. There was maybe 20 or 30 from each group involved and when it ended there were five or six people lying knocked out.”
The shocking incident occurred at around 4.30pm Saturday in an area usually popular with tourists and families. The Hibs casuals were primarily in their teens and 20s, while many of the Rangers and Hearts hooligans were middle-aged.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “During any demonstration, Police Scotland provides an appropriate response to ensure the event passes peacefully. Any incidents that arise will be deal with proportionately.”
Four men, three aged 18 and one aged 21, were to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.
Established military tactic
AMBUSHES have been a long-established military tactic. In the Battle of Trebia in 218BC, Carthaginian leader Hannibal hid cavalry and infantry near the battle zone. When the Roman infantry became entangled in combat, the ambush force then attacked the legionnaires from the rear.
Another famous ambush was sprung by Germanic leader Arminius at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest more than 2000 years ago. His forces attacked the Romans when they left their fortified camp and were marching in a rainstorm.
During the Vietnam War, the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley saw American’s 1st Cavalry Division ambushed by the 8th Battalion of the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment.