STEWARD: IT GOT OUT OF HAND
It got out of hand, says Stags' steward
CHAD website, 15 May 2007
By Jonathan Schofield
A MANSFIELD Town steward involved in the ugly crowd scenes at the end of the Stags' last home of the season has apologised for his behaviour –– but insists the majority of his colleagues work hard to protect fans' safety.
His apology comes after stewards were criticised for 'heavy-handed' treatment of young fans who had run onto the Field Mill pitch after the Stags' secured a 2-1 win against Barnet to preserve their Football League status on 28th April.
The fall-out from the incident led to club safety officer John Sidney resigning and the dismissal of several stewards.
But one steward, who has asked not to be named, has stepped forward to give his side of the story and told Chad his colleagues' first concern during the pitch invasion was the safety of players and officials.
"It did get out of hand, but we were trying to control the crowd and protect the players, which is a very difficult thing to do when 300 people run on to the pitch," he said.
"We knew it was coming and we had our eye on people we knew were very capable of causing lots of trouble. Some of them were 15, 16-and 17-year-olds but a lot of them have been causing trouble all season and been given a number of cautions.
"That doesn't make it right and I apologise for my behaviour. I had been a bit too heavy-handed and the job I have done has not been up to the standards the club has required, so I have handed in my notice.
"I have been at the club for the last nine years and this was the first time it has occurred. The club is like a part of my family, but I was out of order and I will not be coming back next season."
The steward admitted a small number of his colleagues intentionally provoked the crowd and tried to intimidate supporters, which has created a feeling of distrust on both sides.
"Some were causing nothing but trouble all season and that has got the rest of us a bad name," he said. "You get nothing but grief from the first minute and at that game I was threatened by two big blokes.
"A lot of the stewards are frightened there are going to be consequences, like if someone recognises them in the pub. This incident has damaged the reputation of the club and people who work for it.
"I want the supporters to realise that the stewards are there for the fans' safety and most of them do a very good job."
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