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'The climate has changed' - Pallister doesn't expect repeat of '95 troubles at the Aviva

The ex-England defender was on the pitch when riots broke out at Lansdowne Road 20 years ago.

David Kelly Republic of Ireland v England 15/2/1995 Pallister alongside Irish goalscorer David Kelly and Paul Ince on that night at Lansdowne Road. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

FORMER ENGLAND INTERNATIONAL Gary Pallister is hopeful that this weekend’s friendly international between Ireland and England can pass without the kind of trouble which marred the last meeting between the two teams in Dublin.

Pallister was picked to start in defence by Terry Venables when the Three Lions visited the Irish capital in February 1995 and it was the Manchester United defender who played David Kelly onside in the 21st minute — allowing him to score via the arm of goalkeeper David Seaman.

The game wasn’t long restarted when unsavoury scenes broke out in the Upper West Stand as away supporters began rioting and hurling missiles down onto the fans beneath them.

Dutch referee Dick Jol signalled for the players to return to the dressing rooms and the match was soon abandoned. Pallister recalls reading about the possibility of violence in the run-up to the fixture and, unfortunately, the predictions proved correct.

“I think we were all aware of what was being said in the press,” he said during a visit to Dublin yesterday. “I remember reading the papers on the morning of the game that there was talk of the chance of trouble.

“Going to the game, you were hoping that everything would be in place to prevent it because there had been so much talk. But there wasn’t enough implemented to stop it as it broke pretty early in the game.

We were aware that there was something happening in the stand and I can remember looking up and seeing things being thrown and immediately you think ‘well, that’s not good’.

“It escalated and spread. I think we all knew we would get taken off and eventually then the referee had no choice. We sat in the dressing room for about a quarter an hour while they all discussed whether the game would go ahead or not and eventually the decision was taken that it would be cancelled and we would head off home.

“I think you’re disappointed as you want football to be the winner after all the troubles that there had been. Everyone felt the same way, disappointment that that wasn’t going to be the case and as players you are disappointed that you cant finish a football match.

“You’re representing England and if it’s English fans causing the mayhem then you’re disappointed and let down by the people who provoked this kind of trouble.”

Gary Pallister Pallister at the Ford event in Dublin yesterday. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

20 years on, however, the atmosphere is sure to be dramatically different when Roy Hodgon brings his team to the Aviva Stadium for a meeting with the Boys in Green on Sunday afternoon.

“I think you get the sense (that a repeat of ’95 is unthinkable),” adds Pallister. “It’s a new stadium as well. Maybe things can be better organised as well. Lansdowne was an old stadium and probably didn’t lend itself to good segregation and what have you.

“I think the climate has changed and I don’t think there’s any talk in the papers of trouble in the offing or any hangover from ’95. I expect it to go off pretty well.”

Ex Manchester United footballer Gary Pallister and Celtic legend  Tommy Boyd yesterday announced Ford’s exclusive ‘152’ Summer Sales Event. Further details are available at Ford.ie or at participating Ford Dealers nationwide.

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Ben Blake

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