CHAD: DERRY RESPONDS ON STEWARDS
CHAD front page 02 May 2007
Fans' disgust over stewards' actions
CHAD, 02 May 2007
By Jonathan Schofield
MANSFIELD Town chairman James Derry has assured supporters the club will fully investigate the 'heavy-handed' reaction of stewards to young fans who ran onto the pitch at Saturday's final whistle.
Disgusted fans have described seeing teenage supporters being punched, kicked, rugby tackled to the ground and grabbed in headlocks after rushing onto the pitch to celebrate the team avoiding relegation.
Club officials are now sifting through CCTV footage to ascertain exactly what happened –– with the Stags vowing to dismiss any steward 'who has acted inappropriately'.
Said Mr Derry: “This has been an ongoing theme and we have put training into place to try and improve the situation. The stewards were specifically instructed not to be heavy-handed at Saturday's game but it would appear they have gone against what was said.
“Entering the pitch is a criminal offence but in that situation common sense needs to prevail. It was a nice sunny day, the atmosphere was good and Barnet only had about 100 travelling supporters –– so that was never going to be an issue. It got completely out of hand and we are very disappointed.”
But irate mum Nina Hibbert has blasted the club after seeing pictures on the Chad website of her 15-year-old son Jordon being led from the pitch in a headlock.
“We want to take this further,” she said. “We've been to the police and they told us to contact the club but we've had no feedback. As a parent it's very frightening to see this happen.
“We didn't know about the photos until we put on the internet and when I saw them I just felt sick. Jordon is a season ticket holder and he wants to go back next year –– if his dad lets him.
“I don't agree with them going on the pitch but they weren't running on to fight, they were only celebrating. Jordon was quite prepared to walk off the pitch and when he asked the steward to let him go his grip just got tighter.”
The trouble kicked off after the Stags ensured their survival in the Football League with a 2-1 win over Barnet, and one angry fan told Chad tensions had been building all afternoon as stewards intentionally provoked the crowd with hand gestures and tried to intimidate supporters.
But a steward at the game, who asked not to be named, has defended her colleagues –– labelling the fans that stormed the pitch as 'hooligans'.
She said: “If people go to the ground to watch the match they will be treated with respect but on Saturday they went planning to run on the pitch even though they were told again and again not to. They were acting like hooligans.
“It wasn't heavy handed, all we were doing was restraining them which is difficult to do when they're fighting you back. If they want to act like hooligans they are going to be treated like that. If anyone is to blame it's them.”
l See page seven for an open letter to Keith Haslam and James Derry from concerned fans about the stewarding at Field Mill.
For all the pictures go to our website http://www.chad.co.uk where you can also take part in our online vote: 'Do you think the stewards at Field Mill were heavy-handed on Saturday?'
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