Haydock a 'ticking bomb' since expansion of drinking areas, says member
A Haydock member who has been going racing for 47 years has claimed the track's policy of allowing people to take alcohol onto the lawns in front of the stands made Saturday's violent scenes inevitable.
Andrew H Jones contacted the Racing Post in the wake of the violent brawl which erupted on Saturday before the final race on the Grand National Trial card.
Jones is a member at both Haydock and across the Pennines in York, and believes the different attitude to where racegoers can take their drinks employed by the two tracks means trouble was always more likely to occur at the St Helens venue.
"If you compare the members' area at Haydock with York, there's a similar set-up, with the lawn out the front," said Jones on Monday. "I am a member at both courses, and I suppose you pay for that extra bit of comfort.
"It's probably going back eight or ten years now that you've been able to take your beer out with you at Haydock. The big difference is they don't let drinks onto the members’ lawn at York.
"What happened at Haydock on Saturday has been waiting to happen, especially in the summer when you get big groups of lads and they put pints on the floor. Anybody could just walk through and accidentally knock some drinks over, and then the fuse is lit."
Jones says that fear of drunken or antisocial behaviour is a factor in which days he opts to utilise his annual membership at Haydock.
"I choose not to go on a Saturday between May and September," he said. "I'll go on a Friday or whenever but I just don't feel comfortable on those Saturdays.
"Racecourses are less interested in the likes of me who are interested in racing but aren't going to spend any money. They want groups of lads who are going to spend £5 a pint and who'll drink all afternoon. That's what happened on Saturday. It's been a ticking bomb."
Around ten to 12 men were involved in the fight, which began in the Centenary Stand and spilled onto the members' lawn and in which a mother and her toddler were caught in the melee.
Merseyside Police detained a 26-year-old man on suspicion of affray and possession of a controlled drug, while both Haydock and the Racecourse Asscociation issued strongly-worded condemnations of the violence on Sunday.
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