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Rioting outside St James' Park and in-fighting amongst Lions fans at Wembley brought English football's long and bloodied relationship with hooliganism back to the fore

Police made 43 arrests over the course of a weekend where Newcastle and Millwall fans brought fresh shame on British football in scenes painfully reminiscent of the darker days of English hooliganism and violence.

On afternoons where football should have been the talking point – progression to a first ever FA Cup final for Wigan, the end of a 13-year wait for a derby victory at St James’ Park for Sunderland – it was bloody off-field scenes that stole the headlines.

On Saturday, police arrested 14 people following a mass brawl amongst sections of the Millwall support at Wembley, with offenses ranging from affray to possession of an offensive weapon.

Faces in the crowd were bloodied, children wept and police were forced to intervene; it was dubbed a one-off, an increasingly rare altercation by a minority of fans, but similar scenes followed in the North-East on Sunday.

After watching their side lose 3-0 against local rivals Sunderland, fans of Newcastle rioted in the city centre, clashing with riot police barely 24 hours after infighting Millwall fans had soured the FA Cup semi-final.

Missiles, from glass bottles to bricks, were thrown, firecrackers were set off, wheelie bins were set alight and one Newcastle fan even punched a police horse before being wrestled to the ground.

CCTV footage is still being reviewed and evidence still being gathered, with more arrests expected in the coming days.

The trouble was a throwback to the hooliganism and riots more closely associated with the sport in the 1970s and 80s, and suggests that English football’s ugly past has yet to be fully eradicated, overshadowing the weekend’s action.

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