Brighton fans’ European joy cut short by tear gas

2 months ago 67

Albion fans affected by tear gas in AthensImage source, George Batchelor

Image caption,

Tear gas was used in the AEK Athens stadium after the final whistle

By Christian Fuller

BBC News, Athens

Brighton & Hove Albion supporters' joy was short lived after fans were inadvertently affected by tear gas.

However, flash bangs and tear gas were used towards the home supporters after the final whistle, a Sussex Police representative said.

"The gas wafted through to the away end, and a few fans were left feeling distressed," Darren Balkham said.

"It's not a nice feeling, especially if you have respiratory problems. And if you've not had that before, it is quite scary."

'A lot of frustration'

The Sussex Police Football Officer said he hoped the trouble after the match would not dampen the spirits of supporters.

"There has been quite a lot of frustration," he added. "The fans will reflect quite angrily with what's happened, but hopefully tomorrow and going forward they will remember the win."

Despite the aftermath, supporter George Batchelor "never thought it possible" he would watch his side qualify for the knockout stages of a European competition.

"I never imagined 10 or even five years ago we'd play in Europe, let alone qualify for the knockouts," he said.

"It did turn a bit sour between fans, and the match was stressful at times, but it was all worth it.

"The celebrations will go on long into the night."

Image caption,

Only half of the Challen family in Athens had tickets to the match

Super-fan Sue Challen, who is a member of the Seagulls Over London supporters group, said visiting the Greek capital was the "perfect reward" for attending every match last season.

"We saw a dad at the Acropolis with his little kid, and [my son] Jimmy said, 'he's having a very different Brighton experience to me'," she said.

"I used to drag him to Leyton Orient, and now we're here."

Jimmy said the experience was "something I've been dreaming of since I was a kid".

"And we've bumped into people we know from Albion matches up at the Acropolis, which is a sentence I never thought I'd say as a Brighton fan."

Earlier this week, Hollingbury pub landlord Pat Matthews returned Joel Veltman's missing GPS tracker.

Image source, Matthew Bishop

Image caption,

Hollingbury pub landlord Pat Matthews returned Joel Veltman’s missing GPS tracker earlier this week

The Albion defender threw his shirt into the travelling supporters after Saturday's victory at Nottingham Forest, but it was not until he had returned to the changing room that he realised his tracker was still inside.

The club invited Mr Matthews to meet Veltman, and to receive a signed shirt in exchange for the device.

"One of our locals died from Parkinson's disease, so we will auction the shirt off for a Parkinson's charity and hopefully raise a few quid for that. And I'll hang up the other one in the pub," Mr Matthews said.

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