Hibs ‘saddened’ over Nottingham Forest clashes

Danny Handling in action for Hibs against Gibraltar in their previous pre-season match. Picture: John Shephard
Danny Handling in action for Hibs against Gibraltar in their previous pre-season match. Picture: John Shephard
Share this article
Have your say

HIBS have condemned violent clashes between fans which hit the side’s pre-season friendly against Nottingham Forest in Portugal.

The match in Vila Real San Antonio’s Estadio Municipal descended into violence after 35 minutes, when both sets of fans clashed in the main stand after repeated nationalist and sectarian chanting.

Makeshift metal barriers separating the 500-strong crowd were used as missiles, while baton-wielding riot police were called in and struck several Hibs and Forest fans.

Although some supporters were left bloodied during Saturday’s match, which Hibs lost 2-1, there were no reports of serious casualties.

Hibs bosses said they were “saddened” by the violence.

In a statement, they said: “The club was saddened to note that an altercation took place at the Estadio Municipal VRSA during the first half.

“The incident was quickly dealt with by the authorities and the rest of the match passed without incident.

“Hibernian Football Club cannot condone any form of antisocial behaviour or intolerance between rival groups.”

The violence has been slammed by other Hibs figures.

Supporters Club chairman Mike Riley called the clashes “unbelievable” and said it was not the first time Forest fans had caused trouble.

He said: “We had texts saying there was an awful lot of fighting. I thought we had got away from that and it’s a worry as we have the Scotland-
England game shortly.

“I have a whole family of English folk and the last thing you want is something like that happening.

“But these things creep into the game. Notts Forest have always been a bit raucous over the years – they’ve had their problems with Leeds and Millwall as well.

“It’s disappointing if the Forest supporters were involved in that. Like everybody else, they’ll probably have a core of trouble-making supporters and would probably rather they supported someone else.”

He added: “Hopefully it’s an isolated incident and won’t grow – especially with the big international game coming up.”

The violence overshadowed events on the pitch, which saw Forest take the lead after 26 minutes when Dexter Blackstock scored from the penalty spot after being brought down by Lewis Stevenson.

Hibs drew level in the second half when Owain Tudur Jones leapt on an incisive Danny Handling pass to score his first goal since joining the Edinburgh side from Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

But Forest went ahead again when fleet-footed striker Ishmael Miller broke through the Hibs back line and netted the English side’s second goal.

Hibs returned to Edinburgh yesterday to continue preparations for their Europa League tie against either Drogheda or Malmo.