Derry City appeal to fans amid 'worrying trend' of violent attacks at Brandywell Stadium
There have been reports of skirmishes among rival fans inside and outside the ground at the St Patrick's Athletic match on April 28th and again at the Shamrock Rovers fixture on May 1st where a number of spectators were ejected from the stadium by stewards following clashes in the South End Park Stand.
Speaking on the Journal's 'Talking Derry City' podcast Mr Martin described instances of drunken fights, youths throwing bricks, glass and eggs at away supporters and claimed the 'ugly' scenes at Brandywell in recent weeks have left young families 'terrified' and caused concern for 'genuine supporters' and residents of the area.
The club's Commercial Manager also revealed how the club was recently contacted by Drogheda United on behalf of Gardaí who were requesting profiles of supporters to help them identify potential troublemakers ahead of the fixture at Weavers Park last week.
Mr Martin warned that the actions of a minority of supporters at both home and away fixtures is bringing the club's reputation into disrepute, endangering 'innocent supporters' and souring the matchday experience for others.
There will be an increased presence of community leaders in and around the Brandywell on matchdays and the club has pleaded with the people responsible for outbreaks of trouble to cease.
"Recently we've seen an uptake in poor behaviour (in stadiums) all over the country," began Mr Martin. "We'd love to encourage the younger supporters to come along, buy season tickets and support the club but we appeal to them to do it in an orderly manner. Support the club. Don't be bringing the club into disrepute.
"Don't be putting other fans at risk. Don't be scaring families from bringing their kids to the matches because without that younger generation, we won't have a club in the future.
"We need to make it safe for them and need to work with all the authorities to make sure that this happens."
The club has been hit hard by fines from both UEFA and FAI for unruly behaviour of fans including pitch incursions and use of pyrotechnics and despite the enforcement of lifetime bans and other stringent security measures, there continues to be issues home and away.
"It's up to us to address it. And it's up to us to ensure that our fans travelling to away matches will also behave; not take pyrotechnics into the ground; not try and pick drunken fights with other supporters because it just brings the name of the club into disrepute. And it's also endangering innocent supporters that are travelling to matches.
"We've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes and our security company (Pulse), Council and ourselves will continue to do that in the future to try to stamp this out and educate people into the way of enjoying the match and whole match night experience without fear or causing fear for other supporters.
"There are some elements there in the last couple of weeks and it seemed to have gotten out of hand at the St Pats match on April 28th. That was ugly. It caused a lot of concern for residents. It caused a lot of concern for genuine supporters.
"And it seemed to carry over to the Monday night against Shamrock Rovers on May 1st. Again, police were on standby outside. Police don't want to be there. The police have been happy for 30 or 40 years that Derry City have been dealing with security on match nights on our own without any police interference.
"So they don't really want to be there but they have a duty of care to the citizens and residents and the supporters. They've stood back and let our security company deal with it. Pulse has been excellent with it but we really need everybody to take a step back, have a look at what's going on and make things improve and encourage those people causing the trouble to cease from it.
"We're playing Dundalk on Monday night and you'll see another presence of community leaders outside the ground.
"If you're not going to watch the match or if you're not there for the football then stay away because to be throwing bricks and glass and eggs over the wall into away supporters, it's only antagonising things and only making them want to retaliate.
"So we're going to get community leaders to go out to the streets and persuade those younger people, if they're there, to cease what they're doing and just make the match night experience better for everybody inside."
The club was contacted indirectly by Gardaí to help them track troublemakers, an unprecedented and alarming request, explained Mr Martin who is worried that Derry's reputation around the country is being tarnished by a small minority.
"Last week before we travelled to Drogheda we had contact from Drogheda United Football Club asking us if we have any profiles of anyone who was travelling because the Gardaí wanted to know.
"That has never happened at Derry City before where a club we're going to visit is asking for information up front about who's travelling.
"And it's very difficult to provide that information. You can profile people who are troublemakers but it's very, very difficult to get them identified at an away ground so that's a bit of a worrying trend going forward.
"There's people removed and barred and told they weren't welcome back. They've come and apologised, they've worked with our security company to try and convince younger people the error of their ways so to speak and that seems to be working.
"For some reason there were these physical attacks which took place during the last two matches and that is just not acceptable. Come and enjoy the match and make it a good experience for yourself and everybody else."