The official supporter’s groups of Port Vale and Crewe Alexandra are firmly behind the prohibiting of pyrotechnics at football matches, as the two clubs clash in Sky Bet League Two later today.
Mark Porter is the chair of the Port Vale Supporters Group, while Tom Kural is the joint head of media and press at The Railwaymen Supporters Society. Yet, despite occupying opposing seats at The Alexandra Stadium this afternoon, both know the potential dangers of pyrotechnics.
Clubs across the UK, including The Alex, have released statements this week drawing attention to such dangers and the various consequences that could be imposed if the laws are broken, such as a minimum three-season ban from attending your club’s matches.
The warnings could not come at a better time, as Guy Fawkes celebrations begin this weekend in Staffordshire and continue through the coming days.
Furthermore, the last meeting between these two local sides back in April saw multiple flares ignited in the stands, something both supporters’ groups will not stand for today.
Porter said: “It’s just idiotic. If people want to see fireworks, go to a display that’s organized. Don’t bring them to football matches; you’re not welcome, ever.
“I go to about 50% of the away games and all the home games, and I’m proud to say I haven’t seen any incidents with pyrotechnics from Vale supporters wherever we go.
“Nobody likes to see silly business going on and we don’t want to go back to the old days; we want football to be inclusive for everyone.
“Banter is fine between teams, but you don’t want to be overstepping the mark, and if somebody breathes in smoke from a flare and has an asthma attack, you are potentially putting someone’s life in danger.”
Flares can burn at 1600 degrees Celsius, which can cause a considerable amount of damage to both people and infrastructure.
Back in 2013, a 14-year-old boy died after he was hit by a lit flare during a football game in South America – an eye opener to the world.
Kural said: “There are plenty of other ways to show your passion for the team without breaking the rules and bringing along illegal objects and pyrotechnics.
“Sing, clap, wave your scarves and flags, but making people’s lives a misery, and even endangering them, has no place in this game.
“We all want a good atmosphere and we want it to be exciting, but the first priority has to be for the supporters and for the players.”
With the Railwaymen sitting pretty at the top of the table and the Valiants looking healthy in 11th, in addition to the close proximity of the two teams, it’s expected that over 7,500 people will flood through the turnstiles this afternoon, with almost 2,500 visiting fans.
Yet, Porter hopes the electric atmosphere will not get to supporters’ heads.
He added: “All we want is a good day out. If you look at the news every week, you’ll know there are far more important things going on in the world than football.
“I understand that for 90 minutes today, it will be the most important thing in everybody’s life in that ground, but when you go home, there are a lot of other things going on. So, let’s enjoy the day and get behind the team.”
Meanwhile Kural, who is helping the supporters group raise £250,000 for a chance to have a shareholding at the Alex, believes that more can be done to rid pyrotechnics from football.
He explained: “I have seen flares at games within the last 18 months, so there needs to be something done in terms of spreading awareness in the press, widely disseminating it to supporters so they know it is illegal and that they can be penalized, let alone put people in danger.
“With the game against Forest Green Rovers being rained off last week, the anticipation has been building and building ahead of today, and its nice to have something positive to talk about on the pitch.
“But we actively discourage any fans to bring flares or pyrotechnics to the game today.”