Police investigate fighting as Motherwell fans visited Airdrie
BY BRIAN YULE
CCTV footage is this week being studied by police investigating a flare-up of violence before last Saturday's Scottish Cup tie when Motherwell fans visited Airdrie.
Five men were arrested when fighting broke out before the match.
The arrests followed a brawl in Airdrie town centre as supporters made their way to the stadium. The flare-up terrified shoppers and one fan was taken to hospital.
The CCTV footage may provide enough evidence to allow police to make further arrests.
Around 70 men had arrived at Coatbridge Central railway station from Motherwell and visited a pub before boarding a train from Coatbridge Sunnyside to Airdrie.
From there they were met by police who set about escorting them to the Excelsior Stadium. But in the shopping precinct the Motherwell visitors were confronted by another group and fighting broke out.
There are reports that the encounter was pre-arranged by people with a background in football violence.
The battle was broken up by the escorting officers with the help of colleagues from British Transport Police. No one involved was wearing club colours.
The five men held in custody are expected to make an appearance at Airdrie Sheriff Court. One man was taken to Monklands General Hospital in Airdrie but his injuries were described as minor.
Chief Inspector Jim Sweeney at Airdrie police office said: "We had some intelligence that there could be trouble but clearly not enough detail.
"These weren't youngsters fighting. It was men in their 30s and 40s and obviously came about due to the rivalries
surrounding a local derby.
"This was deplorable conduct and I know there were a few scared people in the town centre but there were plenty of officers present who made sure the fight was over very quickly.
"We will now be reviewing CCTV and making further inquiries. Anyone indentified as being involved will be arrested."
There were a further two arrests at the game, including that of a man who tried to invade the pitch.
There were no incidents after the game but police provided an escort for Motherwell fans to leave Airdrie via Drumgelloch railway station.
Dave Wardrope, of Motherwell Supporters Trust, said this week: "The Trust Board is not in a position to comment about any alleged incidents on the day of the Airdrie cup game.
"However, it condemns violence of any kind and urges all supporters to fully back the club but in a law abiding way."