Everything we know about attack on Swindon players after Port Vale pitch invasion

·6-min read
Everything we know about attack on Swindon players after Port Vale pitch invasion
Everything we know about attack on Swindon players after Port Vale pitch invasion

There has been widespread condemnation across the footballing world of the violence which erupted on Thursday night after Swindon Town's play-off semi-final defeat to Port Vale.

Police are now investigating the incident after Swindon players claimed they were attacked, punched and kicked by "a minority" of the hundreds of Vale fans who stormed the pitch.

The Football Association is investigating all the incidents of "anti-social behaviour" involving pitch invasions this month and warned that these scenarios "simply cannot continue".

The Robins were defeated by Port Vale 6-5 on penalties in the League Two play-off semi-final on Thursday.

The match itself has been rather overshadowed by the events that followed afterwards. Here is a run-down of everything we know so far:

What happened: "It was a free-for-all out there"

Home Vale fans flooded the pitch after their team won the penalty shoot-out and secured their place at Wembley for the League Two play-off final.

But footage aired live on TV appeared to show some Vale fans surrounding Swindon players before punching them.

 

Swindon stars Harry McKirdy, Mandela Egbo and Jake O'Brien all posted about the events on social media.

Right-back Egbo shared a picture of a cut on his nose which he says was caused by the attack.

He tweeted: "How you scummy fans get two free shots and only manage a scratch? And I'm supposed to keep my cool - if I react I'm the bad guy right?"

 

Striker McKirdy claims bottles and lighters were thrown at him.

He said: "I'll take the stick and the songs. But bottles, coins, lighters thrown at me and running on and hitting and kicking me and my team-mates. Too far. Something's got to be done EFL."

Head coach Ben Garner branded the behaviour of Vale supporters "disgusting" and "dangerous" but was proud of how his players responded.

He said: "Players were being hit, kicked, spat at, verbally abused. It’s just not on.

"Fans think they can come on and have a free hit, a free pop, knowing the player can’t react to it.

"If a footballer hits back, that would be it for them. They’d be tainted with it for the rest of their career.

"In any other profession, you wouldn’t have to put up with that abuse so why are they having to put up with it?"

Swindon Advertiser:
Swindon Advertiser:

Multiple Swindon fans told the Adver they were also subject to abuse and assault.

Chanté Charlotte was there with her autistic son, who was a mascot for Swindon Town.

She said: "We had to be escorted onto the pitch to get to safety. I saw two children who couldn't have been more than 10 being treated for head injuries. One was hit by a bottle and the other hit in the eye by something; all because of the action of more than a minority of Port Vale fans," she said.

 

What the police said: A "thorough investigation" is now underway

Staffordshire Police confirmed in a statement that it was working with the two clubs to investigate the altercation.

"Police attended Hamil Road, Burslem, where a Swindon Town player was reportedly assaulted following a pitch incursion after the conclusion of the game," the force said.

"Officers are working in partnership with both football clubs to identify those responsible."

Superintendent Gemma Ward, head of force operations, said: “Staffordshire Police and Port Vale are committed to ensuring that events at Vale Park are safe and enjoyable for everyone in attendance.

“Anyone seeking to ruin this will be firmly dealt with – such actions have no place in our local community. A thorough investigation is now underway.”

The clubs respond: "It is incredibly worrying and saddening"

A spokesman for Port Vale FC confirmed that the club will not tolerate such irresponsible behaviour and remains committed to taking the strongest possible action against anyone found guilty of being involved in criminal activities – including barring individuals from future games.

A STFC spokesman said: “We are incredibly disappointed and upset to see our players, our staff and our fans put at risk by the actions of a small number of Port Vale fans who acted in an appalling way.

Swindon Advertiser: Credit: PA
Swindon Advertiser: Credit: PA

Credit: PA

“It is not acceptable that members of our playing and coaching staff’s safety was put at risk.

“There is no place for behaviour like this in society, let alone on a football pitch, and it is incredibly worrying and saddening that there have been multiple examples of this inappropriate behaviour at matches this week.

“We as a Football Club have reported the events of last night to the police, and we urge all relevant parties, including the FA, EFL, and Port Vale to fully investigate what happened on Thursday night and to take action against those involved.

“Again, our players and staff should not feel at danger at their place of work, and our fans should feel safe going to support the team they love.

“What happened on Thursday simply has no place in football and cannot happen again because it is unacceptable that people have been seriously hurt attending a football match.

“We will now be letting the investigations take their own course and we won’t be making any further comment at this moment.”

What the FA and EFL had to say

The English Football League condemned the incidents as "unsavoury and unacceptable" and said that, although pitch incursions are dealt with by police and the FA, it would offer its "full support" to the investigations.

The EFL confirmed that measures to kerb the pitch invasion trend would be considered over the summer, including the potential use of "capacity reductions".

In a statement, the FA said: "We are very concerned about the rise in anti-social behaviour from fans as we reach the end of the season.

"Football stadiums should always be a safe and enjoyable space for everyone, and these incidents are completely unacceptable and have no place in our game.

"It is illegal to enter the pitch area in any stadium and these actions are putting players, fans and people who run the game at great risk.

"This simply cannot continue and we can confirm that we are investigating all of the incidences.

Swindon Advertiser:
Swindon Advertiser:

"Clubs play a vital role in addressing this issue and they need to prevent pitch invasions from occurring, as well as taking their own action against those that break the rules and the law.

"The FA will be seeking to do all that it can to work with clubs as well as addressing the issues from a disciplinary perspective.

"We are also reviewing our regulations to help stamp this behaviour out and to ensure the safety of everyone inside a stadium."

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