Meet the man trying to make amends for England’s hooligan shame

Meet the man trying to make amends for England’s hooligan shame
By Chris Harris
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An expat in Amsterdam says he was left so ashamed by English football hooligans he went to great lengths to put things right.


An expat in Amsterdam was left so ashamed by English football hooligans he went to great lengths — or depths — to put things right.

Englishman Lance Roberts was spurred into action after seeing an online video of rowdy fans throwing a bike into one of the city’s canals (see video, below).

It was part of what police chiefs described as "appalling behaviour" ahead of the friendly match between England and the Netherlands on Friday (March 23).

Roberts, who has lived in Amsterdam since 1991, later took his boat on the canal and fished out the sunken bicycle with his seven-year-old son, Sander.

“It was mainly shame, I felt ashamed and I wanted to do something positive,” said Roberts, 48, talking about what sparked him into action. “It was one of these small acts of diplomacy, I wanted to put the bike back.”

Roberts’ good deed saw a friend contact Dutch media and he did an interview on the canal with Amsterdam broadcaster AT5.

“It’s been a positive reaction from people in Amsterdam,” the father-of-two told Euronews. "I think everyone needed a good news story after that.

“The English people who are living here can feel like they can hold their heads up a little bit higher.

Credit: Lance Roberts
Lance Roberts with son Sander and daughter Nora.Credit: Lance Roberts

“There’s at least some evidence of another side of the English nature.”

The self-employed carpenter said he was also moved to act because his two-year-old’s creche is near where the incident happened.

“I went down to pull the bike out because my kid goes to a creche there and we’d walked past them the night before on the way home,” he continued. “The bike had a kid’s seat on it and I saw that and thought: ‘that could be someone I know or one of the other parents’. In Amsterdam, that’s a family’s transport.”

The violence saw more than 100 arrests over two days, the largest number of detentions of England fans for a single game in several years.

"The behaviour of a large number of England supporters was appalling," said deputy chief constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) head for football policing. "Any attempts to downplay it are wide of the mark.

"The sad fact is that the drunken mob's behaviour reinforces the negative stereotype of England supporters, and will impact on the treatment all fans can expect when they follow the team abroad."

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