Sunday, 20 February 2011

Football Fans Hammer The Windows - But There's No Alcohol Allowed On The Buses

As we traveled down the M6, there was always a temptation, to avoid the monotony, by thinking of other subject matters. That's why I thought about the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc) Act 1985 and amendments from the Public Order Act 1986.

Well, no that was a lie. I had no intention of thinking about these two Acts of Parliament which involved reading through the reams of paper to see how much a bus driver might be fined if he didn't obey them.

I was prompted by the amazing sight of a convoy of what must have been around thirty buses from the same company flying up the motorway in the opposite direction. They were a firm from West Sussex who were hauling Crawley Town FC supporters to watch their side play in the FA Cup at Old Trafford against Manchester United. The press had been buzzing over the past few days over the possibility of the minnows from the lower league putting up a giant killing performance against the Champions.

The other driver started chatting about the responsibilities of drivers when taking football fans. He had been in some bad scrapes with several fans from the North. "They're animals, man," he said. "They get paralytic, argumentative then they get frustrated and start hammering on the windows. Some were so bad - no driver would volunteer to drive them."

"Trouble is - all the onus is on the driver. It is abundantly clear that alcohol is not allowed on buses on the way to 'designated sporting events' and you can't stop anywhere within a 10 mile radius on the way to or on the way back from the ground."

He knew of a driver who was forced to stop on the way to a football match. He finally managed to cajole the fans out of the pub and back onto the bus, but arrived late at the football ground.

"Why are you late?" asked a Policeman, who boarded the bus. The driver was just about to launch into a well prepared speech, littered with excuses when the Policeman added:

"I'll just stop you there, sir. Before you say anything, I think you should know that we have noted that you were viewed on the CCTV at the Such-and-such pub, between the hours of ... and..., so I suggest that you turn this vehicle around and take this vehicle from whence it came."

The driver was stunned. But he had just been let off by a generous Policeman. It could have been a hefty fine. He turned the bus around and retreated in a cloud of smoke. Frantic hammering on the windows was heard as it disappeared out of the city.

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