FOUR teenagers have been banned from attending football games for three years after admitting their part in a terrifying pre-match brawl.
The mass fight took place outside a busy city centre bar on a Saturday afternoon.
The three 16-year-olds and one 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted charges of violent disorder when they appeared at Sunderland Youth Court.
Andrew Waters, prosecuting, told the court that trouble flared between rival fans outside Revolution Bar in Sunderland, before the Black Cats took on West Ham at the Stadium of Light on January 12.
The violence was captured on CCTV, which led to a large-scale police operation and 27 people being charged.
Four of those arrested, from Sunderland, Washington and Spennymoor, appeared at the city’s youth court.
Andrew Waters, prosecuting, said the youngsters were part of the Sunderland Youth Firm – which met in The Fort pub in Roker – and was associated with the Seaburn Casuals.
They were drinking in the pub before walking up to the city centre. Some were seen using their mobile phones and, shortly after 2.15pm, a number of West Ham supporters left the pub and violence erupted.
Mr Waters described how one of the youths was at the front of the violence, throwing an object at rival fans, before swinging punches at them.
Another was seen kicking a man while he was on the floor.
The defendants, who have no previous convictions, did not accept the violence had been organised, and one also denied he was part of the youth firm.
Text messages from another’s phone discussed how the firm operated and how they would “run the city”.
And messages on Twitter revealed two of them discussing media coverage of the brawl.
One read: “If the police put as much effort in to catching murderers as football violence, the world would be a better place.”
All four defendants apologised to the court. Alistair Graham, defending, said his client, who was 15 at the time, handed himself in to police after the fight was reported in the Echo.
Michael Henderson and Heather Bolton both said the teens they represented did not know a fight had been planned.
Defence barrister Will Byrne said the experience had been “salutary and chastening” for his 16-year-old defendant.
The boys’ parents told the court they had punished their sons by grounding them and stopping their pocket money.
One mother had refused to renew her son’s SAFC season ticket.
Sentencing, chairman Clifford Jones said: “Sunderland AFC is a proud club. It always has been, and I hope it always will be.
“You are part of a group that brought shame on the club and on the city itself, and we will not condone such actions.”
He imposed a nine-month referral order and three-year football banning order on each of the defendants.
Their parents were ordered to pay £85 towards court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.