CHELMSFORD, England (AP) _ Eight Englishmen who took part in a riot aboard a North Sea ferry bringing rival soccer fans to the Netherlands have been given prison sentences ranging from four to eight years.

Judge Brian Watling described the bloody 45-minute battle aboard the ferry Koningen Beatrix sentenced Wednesday at Chelmsford Crown Court in southeast England.

The fans of two English First Division clubs, Manchester United and West Ham United, clashed while traveling overnight to exhibition games in the Netherlands aboard the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland.

The disturbance ''was quite beyond the captain and his crew to control it - indeed, the evidence is that the crew were as scared as everybody else,'' the judge said. ''It would have needed a large-scale naval boarding party to quell this riot.''

More than 2,000 people, many of them holidaymakers, were traveling on the ferry, and the clashes caused an estimated $45,000 damage to the ship, the judge said.