Chairman Freddy Shepherd said Fenerbahce will enjoy a friendly Geordie welcome to Tyneside, but the Toon Army have been given a warning by West Ham fans about the trip to Italy.
Shepherd: ‘Fenerbahce may think they can create a hostile and electric atmosphere, but just wait until they come to St James’ Park. We will show them how good the Geordie support is.
‘The Geordies know how to raise the roof as well – they’ve done it in the past when we played Barcelona and there were also the games when we were fighting for our Champions League lives against Juventus and Dinamo Kiev. It promises to be an amazing European night and I think it will be a full house.’
The Toon Army have a superb reputation on their travels across Europe, but a West Ham fan who travelled to Sicily for the UEFA Cup tie with Palermo last week has warned the Newcastle fans to take care. (*Story taken from www.TalkOfTheTyne.net)
Jason Kenney (West Ham fan): You would never have witnessed violence like it.. and I have been to many England games over the years including Italy. This is out the ordinary. I agree and sure you will take thousands with you but this lot are different gravy, they have no fear using knives, chains, bottles, pitchforks anything and the worst thing is the police let them do it. This is not football violence it’s war – do not take woman or children…
Below is a true account of what happened on the Wednesday night.
‘On Wednesday night about 300 West Ham fans were drinking peacefully in a square close to the ground. At about 10.30 we saw ‘spotters’ with mobiles on the rooftops and balconies above us’, he said.
‘After another half-hour or so bottles began to be thrown at us from an alleyway. Some of us chased them away before another group (around 50 in number) started throwing all sorts from one of the (two) major exits.
‘We were then pelted from the other exit. Meanwhile, the local police allowed them to throw whatever they liked at us.
‘By this time there was probably around 1,000 Italians covering all exits. We ran towards the exit where the police were, hoping they would help us out. But the police decided instead to baton-charge us.
‘We subsequently backed off and retreated into the bars where they penned us in until removing us by bus. Dozens of West Ham supporters had been injured. We eventually left via a number of buses – under a rain of bottles and bricks, tools, flares and rockets. By the time we left the vicinity there was barely a window left.’
And if that wasn’t bad enough, there was worse to come. The same supporter adding:
‘We were eventually taken to a police compound where we were arrested and had our details taken. They detained 14 people, while the rest of us were eventually ferried to our hotels – but not before having our passports photocopied.’
That version of events, which couldn’t be more at odds with the majority of news items published in both the English and Italian media on Thursday morning, has since been verified by a number of fellow supporters – one of whom also cited police indifference as a reason for the number of injuries to travelling fans.
‘Walking towards the ground we were attacked by locals on mopeds throwing bricks and other things,’ he told us. ‘We were lucky to escape in one piece.
‘After the game the police sent the West Ham buses to different locations. Ours and one other bus was driven to the town center where bottles were launched at us. We had nowhere to go, were totally surrounded – and the riot police did nothing to prevent it.
‘The police told us it was safe; clearly it wasn’t. As we were trying to get to our hotels locals were running out from alleys throwing all sorts of things.’