THE trouble which flared up at Saturday's game at Gillingham was largely caused by Swindon Town fans.

That is the view of the Gillingham club safety officer, former policeman Malcolm Rous.

Swindon Town fans were held in the Priestfield stadium after the game in order to prevent further trouble.

He believes the trouble was started by Town fans going around the ground to get at Gillingham supporters.

He stressed that those responsible were a group of 40 to 50 people and that the majority of Swindon fans did not get involved.

He said: "There is no place for the violence that happened at the end of the game and Swindon fans were responsible for it. There is no doubt about that.

"It was a testing afternoon for us. When you get grown men, Swindon supporters, threatening women and children it's totally outrageous.

"The people they confronted were decent people going to the football with their families.

"When people are clamouring to get back into the ground because they are so frightened, what's the world coming to?"

Despite Swindon Town now having a black manager, Mr Rous believes Gillingham's goalkeeper Jason Brown, who is black, was racially abused by a Swindon fan during the match.

Mr Rous said: "That person's details were taken and will be dealt with. Police are looking at evidence gathering tapes and seeing whether anyone will be charged for any offences."

Mr Rous also rejected claims by Swindon Town fan James Bye in yesterday's Advertiser that glass beer bottles were hurled across the stands.

He said: "We don't have glass bottles. The bottles we sell over the bars look like glass but they're made of plastic."

Mr Bye told the Adver a young boy had been hit on the back of the head with a rock.

Mr Rous said: "If a child did get hurt I would obviously be mortified but nothing like that was reported to us."

Roger Bunce, chairman of the supporters' club said: "I didn't hear any racial abuse from where I was sitting but I do think there were Swindon Town fans at that match that don't normally go to away games. The people who usually go to away games wouldn't cause any trouble like that."

Five people have appeared in court charged with violent disorder following the game.

All five defendants were arrested in Medway after Gillingham's 3-0 win over Swindon in the League One clash.

One of the defendants, a 17-year-old from Swindon, cannot be identified for legal reasons but he was charged with violent disorder and released on conditional bail.

The other four defendants, who were also charged with violent disorder, were Darren Crew, 28, from Grafton Road, Swindon, Paul Telling, 21, from Barnham Court, Swindon, Anthony Betterton, 26, from Amersham Road, Swindon and Kevin Meiklejohn, 28, from James Close, Chippenham.

All appeared at Medway Magistrates' Court on Monday morning to confirm their names, ages and addresses and were released on unconditional bail. They will appear again before Medway magistrates on February 16.