POLICE have warned any troublemakers that they will be ready for them should any violence kick off at Hartlepool United’s home game at the weekend.
High-flying Pools play host to Sheffield Wednesday at Victoria Park on Saturday, a fixture which was marred by violence when the teams met in a League One duel last August.
Sheffield Wednesday fan Kevin Taylor was left critically ill in hospital with serious head injuries after violence flared around Hartlepool train station and in Church Street an hour after the Owls’ 5-0 victory.
The 51-year-old spent 10 days in a coma and now needs round-the-clock care because of the long-term affects of his injuries.
Hartlepool man Paul Bennett, 24, from St Oswald’s Street, was jailed for three years and banned from football matches for six years after admitting malicious wounding, inflicting grievous bodily harm and affray.
Bennett’s father, Paul Clark, 46, of Kendal Road, Hartlepool, received a 12-month suspended jail term for his part in the trouble and for driving his son away from the scene.
Stuart Hurst, 26, of Riverston Close, and Ashley Harwood, 21, of Oxford Road, both Hartlepool, also admitted affray and received suspended jail terms of six and eight months.
Philip Bailey, 49, of Turnbull Street, and Kieran Readman, 24, of Murray Street, also both Hartlepool, admitted using threatening behaviour and were given community orders.
The return fixture in Sheffield last April, which took place on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, passed without any disorder.
But Hartlepool police will be working closely with their colleagues from South Yorkshire this week in an attempt to prevent any trouble at the weekend.
PC Mick Hume, football intelligence officer for Hartlepool Police, said: “There will be a strong police presence around the town before the game.
“We are not anticipating any disorder – but should any occur then we will be well equipped to deal with it and avoid any repeat of the scenes we witnessed last season.
“Pools are doing well in the league, Sheffield Wednesday are going well too, and with the visiting section of The Vic sold out and Pools’ attendances a lot bigger this season, it should be a good game with a good atmosphere.
“The incident last season has been dealt with through the courts. I would urge fans to forget the past, and make Saturday an enjoyable occasion.”