A reminder of the situation we currently face in this country appears in today’s Bristol Post where, our local rag reports, Bristol Rovers fans are being “issued with (a) terrorism warning” ahead of this week’s game against Peterborough United. The club is urging fans (the Post actually refers to fan, but I suspect they realise that tomorrow’s crowd may be a little bigger than that) to arrive early and be prepared for bag searches. This, the Post reports, is in response to the fact that “no specific threat (has) made against Rovers or the Memorial Stadium.”
It appears that the reason for these extra precautions is because the club, doubtless in common with clubs up and down the country, have been contacted by National Counter Terrorism officers and told to sharpen up their act, which is all fair enough. But I never like to read that “no specific intelligence” relating to terrorist activities has been received. The way my brain works is not to say,”Thank God for that, nothing to worry about” but rather if the authorities have not received “specific intelligence” maybe they have got some vague, unspecific intelligence and thought they’d better tell us to mind how we go just in case.
Well, you really can’t be too careful these days, can you, following the murderous attacks in France? After all, no one at the Eagles of Death Metal gig at the Bataclan in Paris could possibly have anticipated the sickening mass murders carried out by a group of islamic terrorists. Or at Charlie Hebdo, or in Bruges. There seems to be no obvious typical modus operandi for these terrorists, which makes all of us potential targets.
The Post quotes Bristol Rovers safety officer Dave Parker (whatever happened to Dave Harper?) says this: “We do not intend to allow terrorism, or fear of terrorism, to impact unnecessarily on our match day operations at the Memorial Stadium.” Now, far be it for me to trivialise matters of terrorism, or to ridicule hardworking staff at the Memorial Stadium. However, I do agree that whilst the fear of terrorism should not affect matchday operations, I suspect terrorism itself just might. Believe me, I am not joking when say this. We are all potential victims of these madmen (and occasionally women) who have rather different ideas of how our country should be run.
Now and again, I have to admit, I do look around me and look at someone and think, what if they were terrorists and then I reattach my brain and get on with my life. But I do look out for unusual items such as left luggage, or unattended bags and so on. This is what the terrorists want us to do so I am glad it’s only ever a passing thought.
Personally, I am very pleased that the Rovers are increasing matchday vigilance and I praise both the club and the security services who are trying to keep us safe. We have to be lucky all the time whereas the terrorist only needs to be lucky once. Mind how you go tomorrow, but don’t let the very bad guys ruin your day.