ENGLISH football thugs burned the Welsh flag, hurled racist abuse at police and sexually harassed a heavily pregnant woman as they ran riot in Wales.
In one of the worst scenes of hooliganism witnessed in Wales in recent years, police described the Carling Cup rampage as "something out of the 70s".
Now they are hunting the gang of yobs who terrorised Wrexham town centre then frightened passengers, smashed windows and let off fire extinguishers on a 90-minute train journey as they made their way home to the Midlands. The Walsall supporters became so disruptive on-board, dog handlers guarded platforms along the route to stop them escaping the train.
The incident occurred as football hooliganism again comes under the microscope. The English FA is currently investigating crowd trouble at two of this week's Carling Cup matches, between Milwall v Liverpool, and Chelsea and West Ham.
The hooligans have been condemned by Walsall FC's owner Jeff Bonser and threatened with lifetime bans from matches.
Writing in a match programme following the incident, Mr Bonser said the fans had brought shame on the club by leaving a "trail of havoc" behind them.
"The train was trashed; they caused bedlam in a Wrexham public house; local police were forced to use dog handlers to prevent them leaving the train at Shrewsbury," he said.
"They burned the Welsh national flag in the doorway of a pub.
"Once at the ground, they threw coins at police and opposing fans. At half-time they left the ground - this shows how interested they were in the match - and went to a local pub to wait for Wrexham supporters to arrive.
"One of the most distressing telephone calls we received...was from the father of a girl travelling on the train.
"She was eight months pregnant, yet these louts proceeded to harass her.
"I am disgusted by behaviour of this kind. It brings shame on the club, on all Walsall supporters and on the town itself."
The trouble began when around 65 Saddlers fans travelled to Wrexham for a Coca Cola League One game at the Racecourse.
Police believe some visiting fans then went to a town centre pub where a Welsh flag was set alight in a doorway.
At the match, coins were thrown at officers and home fans, and many Walsall supporters left the ground at half time.
After the game, which ended in a draw, the Walsall fans arrived at Wrexham General railway station for the 17.46 train arriving from Holyhead and heading to Birmingham New Street.
"It was at Wrexham station that this group from Walsall went over the top, shouting racist and anti-police abuse," said Detective Inspector Tony Bennett, who is investigating the incident for British Transport Police (BTP).
"Then on the train it became extremely unpleasant in a carriage where a fire extinguisher was set off and passengers were subject to abuse. We are investigating verbal sexual abuse which was directed at one woman who was eight months pregnant."
Det Insp Bennett said dog handlers were sent to platforms along the route.
"A number of police forces came to our aid, keeping the trouble-makers on the train at Shrewsbury and other stations on the journey," he added.
"This was major disorder which caused distress to passengers and staff on the train, in addition to the totally unacceptable abuse aimed at police officers.
"It is unusual to see this level of football-related incident now - although I hesitate to call the people involved fans as they left the game at half-time.
"It was like an incident out of the 1970s and none of us want to go back to that."
Peter Strachan, managing director of Arriva Trains Wales, said: "This was a particularly nasty incident that caused distress to our customers and damage to the train.
"We take violence extremely seriously indeed, however, this kind of incident is rare, and we work closely with the BTP to ensure our customers and employees can travel in safety."
Det Insp Bennett said North Wales Police were investigating the flag-burning claim, although the force was this week unable to comment on the inquiry.
The BTP revealed that two arrests had been made on the day but that a major inquiry was continuing from an incident room in Birmingham.