Fanswere locked out of the Champions League final at the Stade de France after ticketless thugs attempted to storm and jump over gates
It was meant to be a thrilling day out in the Parisian sunshine, a game to mark the culmination of a high-achieving season for Liverpool and the opportunity to be crowned champions of Europe.
What should have been filled with memories for Liverpool fans to cherish turned into a nightmare that some feared would turn into another stadium disaster.
Liverpool fan Edward Lynch, an A& E doctor, said: “It was a shambles. The whole thing was a mess.
“Fans were really scared it was going to end in another stadium disaster.”
Dr Lynch added that he had helped treat a man in his 70s who said he had been hit by a police baton or shield during a melee outside the stadium.
I left my seat inside the Stade de France at 7.25pm – 35 minutes before the planned kick-off time – after hearing there were huge queues outside and thugs had tried to storm gates.
AFP via Getty Images)
I saw large numbers of ticketless men trying to get through the stadium’s secure perimeter. Some succeeded in breaking through and ran into the stadium.
I watched as others goaded baton-wielding police and threw missiles.
Despite what the French interior minister said, from what I saw – and from what others told me – these weren’t Liverpool fans causing trouble. It was actually local gangs of lads.
Moving between gates X and Y at the Liverpool end, I witnessed dozens of men mobbing together on the other side of the metal fences before repeatedly trying to climb over them and storm gates.
Offside via Getty Images)
Police officers were being ordered to run between different areas in a bid to quell the erupting trouble.
One young steward told me Gate Y had been closed minutes earlier after 40-50 thugs forced their way through it.
Thousands of men, women and children – almost all wearing Liverpool gear – were left in the middle of the chaos outside Gate Y, pleading for help.
Some were in tears and pain due to police officers repeatedly firing CS gas near them.
Kop legend Kenny Dalglish laid a wreath inside the stadium to mark the 37th anniversary of the Heysel Stadium disaster, which caused 39 deaths.
Speaking to me through the security fences, some supporters feared they were about to witness a disaster like Heysel – or even one closer to home.
Jan Charlton, who has supported Liverpool for more than half a century, said: “This is shocking. It could be another Hillsborough.
“It’s the worst organisation I’ve ever seen. We turned up two hours before the game, none of us are drunk, and we’re getting treated like this.
“We got to the turnstile and they wouldn’t let us in. Local lads are trying to pick people’s pockets and cause trouble so they can try and force their way in.
“We’ve done nothing wrong, but all the police have done is be aggressive with us.
“This shouldn’t be happening and there should be more security outside here to stop it.
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Another fan approached me believing I was an official due to my media lanyard.
He thought I would be in walkie-talkie contact with stadium security and police. He pleaded: “People are going to get killed here.
“There are Algerians out here with knives and weapons and all kinds.
“This needs to be sorted now. We’re getting tear-gassed for no reason. It’s rank incompetence.”
And another supporter added: “Liverpool fans will get the blame for this, but we are behaving and just waiting to get in.”
Liverpool fan Giles Green, 43, was among many ticket-holders who were unfairly denied entry to the Stade de France on Saturday night.
He said: “Everyone was queuing up peacefully.
“But they wouldn’t let us in and then when some people started trying to get in through other means they started tear gassing us all.”
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Darren Nicholl, from Belfast, was in tears inside the gated perimeter after getting separated from his 14-year-old son Reuben when a surging crowd of thugs pushed him through a gate against his wishes.
Darren, 40, said: “Local people started trying to charge.
“Reuben was shouting at me ‘Daddy, Daddy, help me’, but I couldn’t get to him to help.
“It was terrible and then the next thing I didn’t know where he was. Some of them did get in.”
At 9.37pm local time, seconds after the delayed kick-off, I watched as scores of young men locked outside angrily tried to storm gate X.
I saw Darren again, now reunited with Reuben.
Darren said: “I don’t care about the game now. I don’t even want to watch it.
“Whenever we come to games in these foreign countries it’s always hassle.
“I’m just glad Reuben is OK. I thought he’d been trampled.”