A CRICKET final victory for Accrington was overshadowed when police had to separate 50 supporters in a booze-fuelled brawl.
Drunken Accrington and Todmorden fans clashed in a ‘Roses riot’ during Sunday’s Worsley Cup final, which followed chanting exchanges and banter among the 1,000-strong crowd.
Play had to be stopped for a few minutes after flashpoints followed the fall of a Todmorden wicket.
A police riot van was called at around 6.30pm and 10 officers were drafted in for the end of the final, at Todmorden’s Centre Vale ground, with trouble starting in front of the clubhouse.
One witness said: "Apparently a bottle was thrown at Todmorden fans and a scuffle started and everyone was charging around. It settled down, then flared up and something was thrown at the Accrington fans."
Other spectators reported punches being thrown. A 20-year-old man was arrested and fined for public order offences.
Lancashire League chairman Burt Hanson said: "I was some 50 yards away and there was plenty of noise going on. You had a suspicion something could kick off. I don’t know if it was Accrington or Todmorden supporters, I just saw bodies swirling around and the gentleman on the tannoy was telling them to calm down."
Tannoy announcer Philip Wood said: "You don’t expect this type of thing at a cricket match. It was disgusting. I shouted ‘Stop it you stupid people. There are kids about!’ I think the loud blast of the tannoy brought them back to their senses."
The match ended in a win by 104 runs for Accrington, the side’s first trophy for 22 years.
Accrington’s former England batsman Graham Lloyd said: "There was a bit of over-excitement and a scuffle. It’s regrettable, but a great result."
The matter is set to be raised at the next league meeting at the end of August, but Mr Hanson believes it is unrealistic to introduce a Test-match-style ban on alcohol being brought into games.
He said: "I’ve been to quite a lot of finals and cannot recollect it happening before. It’s pretty disappointing but you tell me how we stop it.
"We hope they buy alcohol on the premises but they don’t, they bring it in, and we haven’t got a system to stop that and to take it off them would spark more trouble."
Click on the video window to see the unrest at Sunday's game