30 September 2014

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Regional daily newspaper confiscated as “offensive weapon”

A football fan was forced to sacrifice his copy of the local paper after stadium security guards decided it could be used as an “offensive weapon.”

West Ham United fan Chris Barmby had travelled to Stoke City Football Club for the teams’ Premier League clash earlier this month, armed as usual with a copy of his local daily, the Worcester News.

But when he got to the ground, the retired firefighter was stopped by guards who said he could not take the paper through the gates into the Britannia Stadium as it was the club’s new policy to ban newspapers.

They told him it was due to concerns over people setting them on fire and using them as a torch.

Deputy editor of the News, John Wilson, said: “The Worcester News has always packed a punch, but we have never been called an offensive weapon!

“While security at football matches should, of course, be taken seriously, I really don’t think the crumpled copy of the paper in Chris Barmby’s back pocket could have harmed anyone.

“The idea of his turning it into a flaming torch beggars belief.

“We are just delighted it has become such an indispensable part of Mr Barmby’s day out at the football.”

The story made a splash for the News, which also dedicated its Leader column to the story which branded the decision “absurd”.

The splash for the Worcester News - which was deemed an "offensive weapon" by football security guards

It read: “Most rational people can understand the need for safety precautions at football stadiums in light of the violence that has blighted the game in the past.

“But banning newspapers for fear they are turned into the sort of burning brands wielded by horror movie mobs? It is an absurd overreaction that is in danger of colouring the club’s reputation more than its famously rugged style of football.

“Meanwhile, we hope this incident does not prevent Mr Barmby continuing his splendid custom of carrying the Worcester News in his back pocket to every game he attends.

“We admit we have been called many things, but ‘offensive weapon’ is certainly a first!”

John said despite numerous requests for a comment, Stoke City Football Club had yet to respond.

On the club’s website the list of banned items does not include newspapers.

However, it does state that any article that might be used as a weapon and/or compromise public safety would not be allowed into the grounds.

Mr Barmby himself said he was baffled by the “ridiculous” rule.

“What is stopping someone setting light to a club programme?” he said.

“I’ve been following football for years and years and go to a lot of home games and as many away games as I can and I have never heard anything so ridiculous.

“I always take a copy with me to read on the train but we end up having a bit of banter and I stick it in my back pocket to read later.

“I told them I hadn’t read it but they said to stick it behind the fence and pick it up on the way back. I left the grounds out of another gate so I didn’t even get it back.”

12 Comments

  1. Observer

    Brilliant. What a bunch of muppets the Britannia staff are.

    And Mr Barmby looks your archetypal football hooligan, doesn’t he?

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  2. Proofer, Exeter

    I can sympathise. Many years ago I’d been shopping when I fancied, at the last minute, watching Exeter v AN Other Utd as there was a good crowd gathering. When I tried to take my small Tesco bag in the ground, one of the ‘bouncers’ confiscated a tin of tuna and a pack of spaghetti. He let me keep the six-pack of crisps (sharp edges?) and, I kid you not, five minutes into the match, a fan to my right then launched a yo-yo at the linesman. It missed and went back in his pocket quicker than you could say ‘where’s-the-64-page-property-section-gone?’ It’s only a shame that this Stoke chap wasn’t arrested as the paper could have had a good ‘Police Nick Barmby’ line.

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  3. How dare you call me old hack?, Berkshire

    Nothing new there! A mate was hauled up for attempting to carry a copy of The Guardian into a Mansfield Town v Leyton Orient game 15 years ago!! Same reason given. Shows how slowly the football authorities have reacted to this threat!

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  4. Voice of Reason

    World gone mad! Gratifying to hear the jobsworth security team acknowledging that regional newspapers still have some use in society though. Mind you flaming torches are so last summer!

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  5. davy gravy, The Kop

    If memory serves, newspapers in the ’70s were banned from grounds thanks to the use of the so-called ‘Millwall Brick’. Get a really thick paper (say a South London Press back in the days of 128-pagers), fold it over a couple of times and you can create a hard edge with which to hit someone. The effect (apparently) is similar to being hit with a bit of wood. These days, of course, most newspapers paginations are too low to be truly effective. And a tablet computer like an iPad would be way too flimsy for the average football hooligan….

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  6. seenitallbefore

    Older, wiser heads may recall the Millwall Brick – you can do a lot of damage to someone’s face with a carefully folded newspaper.

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  7. Amazed

    Clubs therefore for the same reason will need to ban football programmes- Oh they make money from those sales, so they aren’t an offensive weapon?

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  8. Fresh coriander

    My friend John the sub and I went to a Southend/Portsmouth match once (he’s the Pompey fan, not me). There was a huge line (for Southend) of police waiting to confront the Portsmouth fans. John and I were the only people allowed through without being frisked or questioned. When you’ve lost it you never get it back.

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  9. Keir Hardie's Cap

    As others who know what they are talking about have pointed out, the Millwall Brick, a newspaper folded to produce rock hard corners, is a serious weapon.

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  10. Mike T, Ipswich

    Brings to mind the Monty Python sketch where John Cleese was an Army PT instructor showing his charges how to defend themselves against attack by someone carrying a variety of fresh fruit.

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  11. Marty McFly

    I always thought it was the Chelsea brick – when you try rolling up a paper tightly you can se what they mean. But clearly doesn’t stop them selling programmes that you could do the same thing with!

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  12. Fencehopper

    Most newspapers wouldn’t burn for long, the pagination is so low!

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