Having successfully exported cholera, colonialism and the Cross to the New World, Blighty is now making an attempt at sending hooliganism Stateside, too: a friendly match between West Ham United and Major League Soccer side Columbus Crew was marred by a scuffle between supporters on Sunday.
The Hammers, on a pre-season tour of America in which they will play in the MLS All-Star Game, won the match 3-1, but local newspapers reported that in the stands it was manbags at twelve paces as rival fans took a few pops at each other, with at least one West Ham fan arrested. The London club played down the incident, stressing the "positive" nature of the trip and describing as "excellent" their reception in Columbus.
Yet the details don't look pretty. The Columbus Dispatch reports that West Ham fans entered the Crew section during half time,chanting "East! East! East Lon-don!" as they marched. As the second half began, a banner reading "ICF, 30 Years Undefeated" was unfurled - ICF being the notorious Inter City Firm that ruled terraces throughout the Eighties. For their part, the Hudson Street Hooligans, local Columbus fans who apparently "model themselves on the east Londoners", fought back, before police intervened.
West Ham, whose team boasts such pacific stars as Lee Bowyer (once charged with GBH), Craig Bellamy (attacked a teammate with a golf club), and Kieron Dyer (fined for on-pitch brawl), will face the creme of the MLS in Toronto this Thursday.