doc

HEREFORD FC director George Webb is urging supporters to take more responsibility for their own actions, adding that the behaviour of some fans has caused the club embarrassment.

The Bulls had to submit a lengthy report to the Football Association following last week's abandoned game at Didcot after crowd trouble led to the match being abandoned.

The club are now awaiting the results of the investigation and what possible punishment may be imposed.

"Although in the main our supporters are great ambassadors for this football club and behave extremely well both home and away, there is no getting away from the fact that on a number of occasions a small minority have behaved in a way that has caused the club embarrassment," said Webb.

"We are continually working to address this problem and will never stop doing so.

"However, there has to be an element of self-policing from supporters and some individuals do need to take more responsibility for their own behaviour."

Webb added that he was pleased to hear reports that Hereford fans managed to restrain themselves after being faced with a huge amount of provocation following the final whistle of last Saturday's game at Bideford.

"I’d like to thank supporters for that restraint and also thank any supporters who put themselves forward to stop the situation escalating," said Webb.

"While we openly acknowledge the problems we need to deal with, we also need the clubs we are visiting to ensure they are properly prepared for the arrival of seven hundred of our supporters – which of course can often be more than five times the number of fans they are used to dealing with.

"We offer clubs as much advice as we can – calling upon our knowledge of the number of the supporters that are expected to travel and experience of what has worked well for other clubs we have visited – but decisions about security and safety at away grounds are not ones that we can make," said Webb.

"We try to exert an influence and offer as much support as we can – offering guidance on the sale of alcohol during games and the number of stewards required for example, but there is only so much we can do as the final decisions and the overall responsibility for the safety and security of all supporters – home and away – is down to the home club.

"Many clubs have taken on board the information we have provided and made sure they have everything in place to ensure matches pass off without incident.

"Sadly though, there are some clubs who are not so willing to go the extra mile to accommodate our supporters and this is often when problems occur.

"As a club we are not going to claim that there aren’t a small number of supporters who have caused problems on more than one occasion – encroachment onto the field of play to celebrate goals being one of the most obvious issues – but equally we do feel that better preparation by our opponents would actually have prevented some of these problems occurring in the first place.

"On a few occasions we have had requests to provide our own stewards at away games, but this often comes with a demand that we pay for them.

"This is something we feel we simply cannot agree to, as it is the host club who is responsible for ensuring the safety of all supporters who attend a game.

"We pay for stewarding at our home games, we would expect our opponents to pay for adequate stewarding at their home games too.

"To agree to pay for stewards at an away ground would set an incredibly dangerous precedent and would be an open invitation for other clubs to make the same request.

"It would just not be sustainable for us from a financial point of view.

"Our belief is that the size of our fantastic away support provides enough of a boost to opposing clubs that they should be able afford to steward our matches properly.

"Even if clubs increase admission prices slightly across the board for our visit it is not the end of the world as long as it’s clear the money has been well spent on resources to ensure supporters are safe and well looked after so that football is the only thing being discussed at the end of the game."

Hereford chairman Ken Kinnersley added that dealing with off-field issues is 'very frustrating' and there is no excuse for encroaching onto the pitch or throwing things onto the field of play.

"Decisions have been made at board level after the Didcot game, but until we get feedback from the Football Association and Southern League on the documentation we have provided, we believe it is inappropriate for club officials to make public comments about the events of that day," said Kinnersley.

"All we want is for all supporters to behave like the majority, which basically means offering the same levels of vocal support and encouragement without overstepping the mark.

"Everyone at the club wants to see fans enjoying themselves at games, but please remember that your actions have consequences, not just for yourself, but also for your fellow supporters and the clubs we are visiting.

"We believe that everyone who cares about Hereford FC has a huge amount to be proud of and if we can all work together to manage the poor behaviour that occurs on occasions away from home, then we can then just focus on getting this club to the higher level we all want it to be at."