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100 years ago in Salford: City’s ‘first hooligans’ batter one another in front of train station crowd

Trouble between fans at sporting contests is no new phenomenon.

Hooliganism in England was recorded as far back as the 1880s, when ‘roughs’ stirred up aggro at football matches.

Almost 100 years later, in 1974 when Manchester United were relegated to what was then the old Division Two, the ‘Red Army’, as their fans became known, caused mayhem and trouble the length and breadth of the country.

And to show you how nothing in history ever really changes, Greater Manchester Police are on high alert for Thursday’s return match in the Europa League between United and bitter rivals Liverpool, after Van Gaal’s men suffered an embarrassing 2-0 loss in the first leg.

But you may be interested to know that one of the earliest newspaper splashes in Salford on fan violence came not from the world of football, but from its distant cousin rugby league.

Despite the odd-shaped balls it’s not a sport associated with firms of hooligans or persistent crowd trouble.

Read: 50 years ago in Eccles: Pie fight turns ugly at Tripe Works

Police caught two men fighting in March 1916 after a match between historic rugby league teams Leigh and Swinton.

Both men were from the Clifton area (which now comes under the City of Salford, rather than Lancashire) but bizarrely enough, one was a Swinton rugby league fan, and the other a Swinton player!

Samuel Hamer, 24, and John Holder, also 24, stood in the dock while the story unfolded at Leigh County Court.

Magistrates heard the whole sorry tale as both men attempted to explain away their disorderly conduct.

Inspector Braithwaite, who was representing the Lancashire and North West Railway Company, told the court that a an earlier match that day between Leigh and Swinton had finished at 4.45pm.

Six hours later, the two men were spotted at Tyldesley train station at 10.35pm rather the worse for wear.

They were then seen shouting and quarreling on the platform about the match.

This would appear not to have been a suitable venue for their fighting so both agreed to go into the station’s waiting room and had “a stand-up fight which lasted for several minutes” with both men throwing punches.

Inspector Braithwaite tried to step in to end the all-out brawl but sadly to no avail.

This was perhaps – as it was revealed in court – because he only had one arm, so he sent for the police to stop the two combatants.

PC Trafford arrived on the scene some 15 minutes later and the two men were still “going at it hammer and tongs”, much to the delight of women and children who had not vacated the waiting room, which sounds more like a boxing ring to be honest.

Mr Braithwaite told the court that he saw Hamer take off his hat, coat and collar before throwing the first punch, obviously concerned that his clothing was not damaged in the bout.

Samuel Hamer, in his defence, said that when PC Trafford separated the pair the people in the waiting room began to boo PC Trafford and cried out, ‘Shame!’

Obviously a display of pugilistic skills from our two rough and ready men was a good way to pass the time.

The PC denied this and said that both men were using bad language and their conduct was “very disorderly”.

The Magistrate was certainly not as amused as the crowd by the two men’s actions and fined them 22 shillings, each with 10 shillings and sixpence court costs and warned them of their future conduct.

Main image: Bury Station © National Railway Museum and SSPL

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SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.