Red card for fan’s pitch invasion

PUBLISHED: 12:09 04 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:06 06 May 2010

A FOOTBALL fan faced being banned from grounds throughout the country after he was arrested at a soccer match. York City fan Mark Smithson, 18, from York, was arrested during the match between Stevenage Boro and York City at Broadhall Way on Saturday, Ap

A FOOTBALL fan faced being banned from grounds throughout the country after he was arrested at a soccer match.

York City fan Mark Smithson, 18, from York, was arrested during the match between Stevenage Boro and York City at Broadhall Way on Saturday, April 22, after running onto the pitch and making gestures at home supporters.

A-level student Smithson pleaded guilty to a charge under the Football Offences Act 1991 when he appeared at Stevenage Magistrates' Court last Thursday.

Robert Allen, prosecuting, said that after York City scored Smithson ran onto the pitch and hugged the goalscorer.

He was said to be on the pitch for about 30 seconds. On his way back, Mr Allen said, Smithson made gestures at Stevenage fans.

Pc Barry Townsend arrested the defendant who swore at the officer. During a police interview Smithson admitted to drinking six pints before the match and didn't realise he was breaking the law.

The Crown Prosecution Service applied to the court for Smithson to receive a three-year banning order, which would have prevented him attending all football grounds.

Mr Allen said Smithson's actions could have provoked violence from Stevenage Boro fans whether he intended that to happen or not.

Smithson, representing himself, opposed the banning order.

He said: "I am a regular supporter of York City. It is my main hobby. I travel around the country following the club and I wish to continue to do so."

Regarding the gestures at Stevenage fans he said: "It is just something that happens at football matches. There was no malice behind it."

In regards to the pitch invasion he said: "It was total excitement and exhilaration. I just got carried away in the heat of the moment."

Smithson said after his arrest he was released from Stevenage Police Station at 1.15am with no money and no way of getting home. He said he was forced to sleep in a photo booth at the train station until the morning.

He told magistrates: "I feel this has been a harsh lesson and I have fully learnt my lesson."

The chairman of the bench Lou Sharman told him: "What you did was a very silly thing but there was no violence involved and we do not believe what you did was a deliberate act of provocation. In future you must behave sensibly or you will receive a banning order."

Smithson received a 12 month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £70 costs.


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