The son of Wolves legend Mike Bailey says he was hit by riot police at the game in Braga.
Father of two and lifelong Wolves fan Andy Bailey, 50, claims he was one of dozens of supporters hit by baton-wielding riot police for no reason as they queued up to gain entry to the Europa League tie in Portugal.
Wolves have launched a formal complaint to UEFA over the treatment of their fans in Braga after receiving scores of messages from angry fans.
Some had phone chargers, flags and even tickets removed at various checkpoints close to the ground after being forced to queue in a muddy field in torrential rain, missing the first 20 minutes of the game even though they arrived in plenty of time.
Wolverhampton-born Andy is the son of 1974 League Cup-winning captain Mike, a mortgage broker who lives in Chislehurst, Kent, and travelled to Portugal for the game with his wife Lorna.
Mike Bailey is a Wolves great, recognised as one of the club’s finest captains who was part of the successful and fondly remembered early 1970s team who won the Texaco Cup in 1971, reached the first UEFA Cup final in 1972, won the 1974 League Cup and achieved two top-five finishes.
The tough-tackling midfielder also skippered Wolves to promotion and played 436 games for the club from 1966-77. Twice capped by England, he was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2010.
Andy and Lorna were two of the 4,000 Wolves fans who collected their match tickets in Braga, out of a 6,000-strong visiting contingent.
Andy was hit as he waited to get inside the ground as thousands of Wolves fans missed the kick-off because police prevented them from gaining entry at a third checkpoint outside the stadium. Fans started pushing from behind and he was forced forwards.
“The police were holding us unnecessarily. There were a small amount of police at the third checkpoint letting about 20 to 30 people through at a time – and there were 6,000 of us,” he said.
“I got a whack – the line split in front of us and people were pushing from behind as the game had started, so when it split in front, the police tried to hold us back, and that’s when they started whacking us left, right and centre,” he added.
“I got hit on the arm and the back. I was OK but my main concern was getting into the game because it had been such a trek to get there.
“Missing the start of a game in the UK is bad enough but when you’ve travelled all that way at that expense, it’s annoying.”
Like all of the other fans queueing up to get to their seats, Andy insists he was an innocent party.
“I’m a 50-year-old husband with two daughters – I’m no troublemaker,” he said. “It was such a joyous occasion in the city but we were treated like hooligans.”
Lorna wasn’t exempt from unwanted attention from the police either, while Andy says he saw four or five children in the crowd outside who would have witnessed the police lashing out.
“She had a baton pressed against her,” said Andy. “She asked why and they eventually pulled it away.”
The couple encountered only hospitality in the city, but their problems started with the walk to the ground, where they got separated.
“The game kicked off at 5.55pm so we left Cafe Vianna, where all the Wolves fans were drinking, at 4pm for a half-hour walk to the ground and yet we ended up being 20 minutes late for the game,” said Andy.
“As we walked down the hill to the ground, Wolves fans were being sent back up the hill, saying the police had told them to go back.
“So we did, but then we were sent back down again, then held by police at the bottom, and that’s where I got split up from Lorna, who had our tickets.
“I couldn’t get a mobile reception to contact her, then I eventually found her.”
The worst problems came as they got closer to gaining admission to the ground.
“The police were taking umbrellas and mobile phone chargers off people, even though there was a net in front of us in the stand, so you couldn’t throw anything, not that we would have wanted to,” said Andy.
“People were tripping up over the umbrellas, then we had to queue across a muddy field which was so boggy, and we thought ‘this can’t be right’ – even now, our shoes are still covered in mud.
“Then a lot of us were held at a second checkpoint and people were starting to get angry because it was getting near kick-off time and the rain didn’t help because everyone was getting soaked.
“People started pushing, ‘saying we’ve come a long way to see the game’ and one of the riot police said ‘I don’t give a s**** if you get in or not’.
“There was another checkpoint and this is where people starting rushing forwards and that’s when they were hitting people with batons.
“It didn’t start getting really aggressive until Wolves scored – that’s when the batons came out.
“They were just whacking people to keep them in line, but when you’re being pushed by 2,000 people behind you all wanting to see the game, everyone was bound to move forward.
“It seemed like the police were definitely looking to provoke and antagonise people to justify their presence.
“There was no reason why there had to be three or four checkpoints.
“We were then pushed through and that’s when we had our tickets removed and I got split up from Lorna again. It was horrendous.
“It was bad enough when Braga had scored but when Wolves equalised (after 13 minutes), this was when people started getting really angry.”
Asked about the treatment of fans, Andy said: “It was disgraceful. There was no justifcation to it – there was no tension at all and no nasty atmosphere, it was caused by the police.”
Andy previously travelled to the Turkish capital of Istanbul for the Europa League game against Besiktas and said everything passed off fine, and says there was no trouble in the city of Braga or inside the ground.
“In the stadium it was fine and we were segregated from their fans,” he said. “All the 6,000 Wolves fans were in the top tier and there was no trouble between the two sets of fans in the ground or in the city centre.”
Yet fans were prevented from leaving the ground afterwards as well.
“We left reasonably quickly after the final whistle because we thought we were going to be stopped again and we got to the bottom of the stairs of the stand and we were held – the riot police wouldn’t even let people go to the toilet.”
Andy’s friend, Steve Brown, a Wolves Fans Parliament member who runs Wolves Facebook page Raised By Wolves, has written a letter of complaint to the mayor of Braga Ricardo Rio about the treatment of the fans he witnessed.
He wrote: “For the attention of Mr Ricardo Rio – Mayor of Braga
“Dear Mr Mayor, This email has been written to bring to your attention our experience in attending the Europa League match between Braga and Wolves last Thursday evening.
“As a regular supporter from Wolverhampton and having followed Wolves for 47 years I have to say the behaviour of your Police (meaning in particular the Riot Squad officers) I witnessed prior to the match was a disgrace.
“They have seriously let the good people of Braga down and yourself as Mayor with over aggressive attitude and violent brutal behaviour against innocent football fans who just wanted to get inside a football ground to watch a match.
“The weather was appalling and obviously added to everyone’s frustrations of the evening but all that said what we saw was unacceptable and you should launch an enquiry or at least so should UEFA.
“I saw batons being used against elderly fans over 70 years of age and against women and some youths of around 16 so they are classed as minors.
“A 70 year old gentleman suffered a major cut to the side of his head and blood was pouring out whilst his wife was upset and crying and no first aid at hand to assist.
“There was no signposting and no one knew where to send us when we arrived at the ground. We were eventually sent over a completely muddy waterlogged field where everyone’s shoes went under water and all our feet were soaked – why were we sent this way ?
“Then major hold ups and poor crowd control and this is where riot police got rough with anyone – fortunately not with me personally but plenty were.
“I got separated from my 19 year old son which was a worry as they snatched him away and made the sniffer dogs test him for drugs of which obviously he had none as he doesn’t use them.
“His phone charging device was confiscated and thrown in a bin and his ticket taken off him so he didn’t know where to sit and what block he was in and couldn’t contact me as the mobile signal was jammed.
“Flags were being taken off fans and thrown into bins. Our friend from Norway who we met up with later had his 150 Euro flag taken off him but we did manage to recover it later on the ground in the mud – this was disgusting and there was no need for it.
“I would like to commend the people of Braga we had contact with as fans during our very short stay but it won’t be a place I would ever wish to return to or recommend to anyone to visit and you can thank your Police for that.
“I suggest a review of policing is drawn up as the Police Commissioner in charge of the evening should be severely reprimanded or better still sacked first thing Monday morning. Yours faithfully, Mr Stephen Brown.”