Sunderland v Coventry: Fans tell radio phone-in of missile throwing inside and violence outside ground

Sunderland fans have been sharing horror stories of being pelted with missiles by a section of the visiting Coventry City support at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland v Coventry City was an action-packed encounter on the pitch - but things turned ugly off it.Sunderland v Coventry City was an action-packed encounter on the pitch - but things turned ugly off it.
Sunderland v Coventry City was an action-packed encounter on the pitch - but things turned ugly off it.

Sunderland lost yesterday's League One game 5-4, but events on the pitch were overshadowed by goings-on off it, as many home fans complained of having to dodge objects thrown by a small number of the 2,800 visiting supporters housed in the upper section of the North Stand.

They said the objects being thrown included glass bottles - some filled with human waste - coins and even flares, and many claimed it was allowed to go on for most of the game before stewards and police did anything about it.

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Sunderland owner Stewart Donald said he was 'distraught' at the reports, which included some fans taking young children out of the seats below the Coventry fans to keep them out of harm's way.

Related: Sunderland AFC owner Stewart Donald 'distraught' as angry fans say bottles, coins and flares were thrown at them by rival Coventry City supporters at Stadium of LightOne fan, who gave his name as John, rang BBC Radio 5 Live's phone-in programme after the game and told presenters Robbie Savage and Jason Mohammad of his matchday experience.

He said: "I want to have a chat about the behaviour of some of the Coventry fans that were at our game today.

"I was there with my partner and godson, and his mother. I’m all for fans being really passionate when they score and about the whole game. I love it, the Coventry fans sang their hearts out today, they were brilliant.

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"There was just a minority of them that thought it would be a brilliant idea to chuck glass bottles off the top of the North Stand down to the Sunderland fans below.

"Bottles filled with water, I’m sure there was a few bottles filled with human excrement, smoke bombs, glass bottles, all chucked down on to us, with a couple of people having their heads split open.

"I just thought with the way English football is going at the moment, with all these people encroaching the field, when’s the line going to be drawn on all of this? Are Coventry going to be punished for this?

"They travelled really well, the majority of them were class, sung their hearts out, really loud. Just a minority of them that were idiots.

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"As a lot of people know, Sunderland are very passionate fans, and we’ve had a couple of last-minute equalisers this year which resulted in some Sunderland fans encroaching the pitch and people have slated us for it, but you know, taking glass bottles and throwing them from 30ft in the air, it’s a bit too far for me."

Related: Sunderland fans blame West Midlands Police for trouble at end of Coventry City gameAnother side of the story was given by another caller, James, who said violence flared outside the Stadium of Light as fans left the ground.

He said: "I was in the away end with the Coventry City fans. I saw someone chuck some kind of alcoholic drink down below at the Sunderland fans, and then once the game finished there was quite a bit of activity outside. There was fighting amongst the fans, police were everywhere.

"I was quite surprised, I didn’t expect any trouble. I know there’s a bit of history there between Sunderland and Coventry fans because of the Jimmy Hill stuff, but to be honest with you there was no need for it really.

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"I saw beer being chucked down yeah, that’s the only thing I saw. Obviously we set a few flares off in the away end, I think there might have been one that went down, but as soon as we got outside the turnstiles there was fighting straight away.

"It was all happening outside and then as you’re queuing to get in to one of the park and ride there was a couple of scuffles there.

"One bloke was showing he got stabbed, whether he did or not I didn’t ask, but it wasn’t a nice or pleasant experience."

Yesterday was the second time there has been trouble at games between Sunderland and Coventry this season.

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When the Black Cats visited the Ricoh Arena in September, Sunderland fans criticised West Midlands Police after their coaches were attacked with rocks as they left the ground.

Some messages on social media blamed Sunderland fans for inciting the trouble, for apparently threatening to damage a statue of Coventry legend Jimmy Hill.

The late club chairman was unpopular with older supporters, who blamed him for their relegation from the old first division in 1977.

Related: Why Sunderland fans of a certain age still don't like Jimmy Hill.Fans also took to the Sunderland Echo facebook page to tell of their experiences at the match.

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Michelle Howe wrote: "My husband had to leave early with our 5-year-old as bottles were being thrown. Disgraceful."

Gloria Lowdon added:"I sit in North Stand behind goal, coins, drinks and bottles were thrown down on our fans. I’ve never seen away fans behaving so disgraceful in a long time."

Ely Carla said: "It was absolutely disgusting. There were all sorts being thrown down. I saw a young woman completely drenched when a bottle was thrown. Another family in front of me were hit with a blue flare. A number of bottles landed in the crowd around me and on the stairs. Coins were being thrown at us. And what did our club stewards and the police do - nothing!! It took until 77 mins when the police finally decided to come and and make a presence."