Move over River Plate! - 12 arrested as chaos ignites at rare English JUNIOR football derby (PHOTOS) Not every day England‘s East Midlands looks more like Buenos Aires, but when Port Vale U21s met Stoke City, it provoked violence reminiscent of ugly scenes that forced the postponement of the Copa Libertadores final last month.
November‘s decisive 2nd leg of South America‘s most prestigious football tournament in the Argentine capital was suspended after fans of River Plate ambushed the team bus of arch nemisis and city rival Boca Juniors with bottles and bricks, causing players to suffer injuries from broken glass and tear gas fired by police.
On Tuesday night, Stoke and Port Vale fans did their best to reenact those surly scenes, at one of the rarest derbies in English football - known locally as the ‘Potteries derby‘ - in the U21 EPL Checkatrade Trophy second round.
The two cross-town clubs have not met in 16 years as Port Vale play in League Two, England‘s fourth tier and a couple of divisions below Championship side Stoke.
Making up for the lost animosity, 4,000 Stoke fans bought tickets to the game at Port Vale‘s Vale Park, making up around half of the 7,940 present, but things turned ugly when the away side went 4-0 down to their arch rivals.
Bottles, chairs, beer and flares were thrown onto the pitch and at the players, with 180 police officers in the area‘s biggest operation in a decade tried in vain to keep order inside the ground, even spraying fans with pepper spray.
Port Vale‘s Luke Hannant even grabbed and celebrated with a bottle of beer lobbed onto the pitch after netting his side‘s third goal of the game in the first 45 minutes, before chucking it again out of play.
During the interval, Stoke fans smashed windows and toilets, and it was reported after the game that 12 arrests in total were made.
“The behaviour of a significant section of those in the away stand was unacceptable and I would like to reassure the local community that we will do all we can to bring those responsible to justice,” Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones said, local newspaper the Stoke Sentinel reported.
Although the original unrest of the Copa Libertadores final happened far from England‘s shores in Argentina, the postponed match will take place a short flight away in Madrid, Spain, at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, home to European champions Real Madrid this Sunday.