|100 years on - The remains of Middlewich Station in 1989, a century after football supporters caused mayhem on its platforms.|
by Dave Roberts
Many years ago someone told me that he had read somewhere that Middlewich railway station was once 'the scene of one of the first reported football riots in history' and the information has lodged somewhere in my mind all this time.
So I thought it was time we got to the bottom of the story and recorded it for posterity in the Middlewich Diary. After all, Middlewich, and Middlewich station in particular, don't have so many claims to fame that we can afford to ignore one of them.
The information about the 'riot' originates in a book called The Roots of Football Hooliganism written by Eric Dunning, Patrick J Murphy and John Williams and published by Routledge in 1988, a time when such unsportsmanlike behaviour was a growing problem in many parts of Britain.
The book attempts, as its title implies, to get to the root causes of football violence (and, I imagine, though I haven't read the book, suggest some remedies for it).
Although this incident has been touted as an early example of such behaviour, the authors are at pains to point out that it was by no means an unusual occurrence in those days, and probably only made it into the press because a newspaper reporter 'happened to be there at the time'.
That reporter was from the Liverpool Echo, and this is what he had to say:
|Liverpool Echo 1st April 1889/The Roots Of Football Hooliganism (Routledge 1988)|
Whatever the truth of the matter, it's fascinating to hear that our own humble railway station was once the stamping ground of such ne'er-do-wells.
Facebook Feedback (January 2018):
On the Memories Of Cheshire group, Pete MC Hough added this comment, which may (or may not) make the situation clearer -
'In 1889 Middlewich station was a single line; a second line was added in 1900. The station was located on the north side of Holmes Chapel Road (A54) which passed over the line on a bridge. Being a passing point Middlewich station was provided with two platforms. The down platform (Northwich direction) was on the west side of the line and was linked to Holmes Chapel Road (actually King Street - Ed) by a driveway. The up platform (Sandbach direction) had an almost identical building housing waiting rooms and toilets. The up platform was connected to from its southern End to Holmes Chapel Road by a set of steps (there were also steps on the down side - Ed). From what I can gather, one lot of supporters were transported away in one direction, and the other group had to wait for the line to be clear for their train to arrive!'
First published 10th January 2017
Amended and re-published 10th January 2018