We are within a hundred metres of the turnstiles when there's a guttural roar from behind. I turn: forty, fifty huge, pumped-up men in balaclavas run towards us in black t-shirts despite the cold, eyes full of a fury almost surreal, carrying clubs and hammers. Without orders we fan out and they're on us: fists, boots, bottles and clubs rain down and though some of our number are hard men we have no chance. They growl, snarl, muttered curses in unfamiliar alphabets. In seconds we're down, out, these men kicking, pummelling, until there's the hiss of a gas canister and they disappear as quick as they appeared, leaving us to cough and rub our eyes and our wounds. A few of the lads laugh about it.