Plans to keep fans apart

POLICE are drawing up plans to try to wipe out the threat of football hooliganism next month after a fixture clashwith rival fans in London.

Hartlepool United travel to Charlton Athletic on Saturday, May 7, as the curtain comes down on the League One campaign at The Valley.

On the same day, arch-rivals Darlington are also in the capital having reached the final of the FA Trophy where they meet Mansfield Town at Wembley Stadium.

The last away game of the season is traditionally popular with Pools fans, with many taking the opportunity to get kitted out in fancy dress to cheer on their team.

But with up to 15,000 Darlington fans also expected to be making their way south for The Quakers’ big day, police are aware of the potential for flashpoints between rival fans on trains heading to London.

With Darlington now playing in the Conference, the local rivals have not met in the league since 2007.

But despite the gulf in status, the rivalry among fans has remained and police from Hartlepool will liaise closely with both the British Transport Police and the Metropolitan Police in London to make sure they are prepared for any trouble.

PC Mick Hume, Hartlepool Police’s Football Intelligence Officer, said: “We are aware of the potential for disorder, and will be working closely with our colleagues from the BTP and the Met to ensure the day hopefully passes off without incident.

“There was a large following for Hartlepool United for the final game at Brentford last season, and there is always a carnival atmosphere among the Pools fans for the final game.

“With Darlington also in London on the same day, we will be monitoring the travelling arrangements to reduce the risk of any disorder.”