Eleven people have been arrested after the first local derby between Stoke City and Port Vale in 16 years descended into violence, with chairs ripped from the stands and thrown towards police officers and stewards.
Although Stoke only took their under-21 side to Vale Park for the Check-a-Trade Trophy match, more than 4,000 of their fans bought tickets for what has been a rare clash in recent times.
Video on social media showed supporters of both clubs trading blows in the streets before kick-off and the hostilities continued inside the ground, which hosted a total attendance of around 8,000.
Staffordshire Police said “considerable damage” was caused to sections of the away stand, with seats, toilets and windows all broken.
More than 150 officers were deployed and they used public order tactics in a bid to restore peace, but were targeted with coins and flares thrown from the terraces in response.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones said it had been a “challenging” night and condemned the “despicable behaviour” shown by a “large number of fans”.
“We are taking this very seriously and I expect there to be more arrests in the coming days as we examine CCTV coverage and gather evidence of the crimes committed,” he continued.
“My officers have shown bravery and dedication tonight and the support from stewards and partners has been first class in ensuring that those intent on fighting each other were unable to do so.
“This kind of behaviour is not acceptable and I would like to reassure you that we will do all we can to bring those responsible to justice.”
Pubs in Burslem – one of the six towns making up Stoke-on-Trent – had to close early as a result of the clashes, with some of the troublemakers having converged on the town centre after the game.
It ended 4-0 to Port Vale, although the violence will likely outlast the result in the memories of those who were there.
Port Vale supporters’ club chairman Mark Porter told Stoke On Trent Live: “It was absolutely appalling. Some of the away fans clearly came simply to cause trouble. They were throwing bottles, lighters, coins, seats – you name it.
“Dozens of seats have been wrecked. They are an absolute disgrace to their club and should be banned.”
Stoke have not yet commented on the unsightly scenes, which have so far seen 11 people arrested for a mix of public order and violence offences.
Police said they age between 18 and 61 and are all from the north of Staffordshire.