Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bangor City Pitch Invasion

It's difficult to get too pompous about the Bangor City fans pitch invasion when they scored their last minute equaliser in the Welsh Cup Final against Llanelli on Sunday. We've all done it. Yes we have, come on admit it.

Pitch invasions are thrilling. they allow you to be part of the action for a second. To get right up close. to lose your head and run round a pitch wild in celebration. My last pitch invasion, away to Halifax in 1991 was just that. But that was way back then when we were all more innocent, when we ran on through gates left open by dozy stewards.

The removal of fencing in the nineties relied on some shared responsibility. We'll take that ugly fence down from your section of the ground if you promise not to run on the pitch. The stakes were raised. These days a pitch invasion is much more serious, and is treated as such. Cardiff's post-match celebration against Leeds on the pitch in 2003 was seen as some sort of riot, when in fact very little happened. I was on the pitch that day, as were 4,000 other normal people.

But really, any fan understands now that the touchline is sacrosanct. All sorts of problems are caused if you get over that line. You know the score. You go on the pitch and you are basically inviting the authorities to take action against your team. And I can't think for the life with me why anyone wants to celebrate with in-your-face aggression. The Mick Channon arm-twirl is plenty good enough for me.

Bangor's pitch invasion was ugly. There's no doubt it was spontaneous. Two men who should no better sprint into the net to kick the ball and fall over each other like Laurel and Hardy. Elsewhere, unbridled joy was released like a champagne cork and out fizzed the fans, ejaculated onto the pitch by their own powerful exhultation. The patchwork appearance of Latham Park, and the disorganisation of the yellow jackets just made the whole thing look a real mess. Bangor fans who went on the pitch to help remove their mates unfortunately added to the general air of chaos.

One bloke went straight to the Llenelli keeper and squared up to him. He turned round and went to square up to Andy Legg. He is alleged to have spat at him. Spitting at a cancer survivor. Nice. He poked him in the face for good measure.

Meanwhile the youngsters have seen their chance to be involved in something a bit naughty. Off they go. they hurtle around the pitch and one of them pushes the keeper in the back. He went down like Andy D'Urso when pushed by Paulo Di Canio. He lies down for a bit and then thinks better of it.

But here's the best bit. Watch the video . There's an act of voodoo that takes place 31 seconds in. In this series of pics, you can see Duncan Roberts, the big Llanelli goalkeeper. In Pic 1, he is standing up and having a word woth a steward. In pic 2, we can see the white shirted Peter Nicholas approaching - the Llanelli. What happens next is magic. Nicholas obviously says something to the 6ft 3" keeper to make him collapse like a fallen tree. Wow! Who needs David Blaine? I wonder what he could have said?


Rhys Wynne said...

I've almost had enough of going tpo watch matches live - being asked to fork out £15-20 and forced to sty in your seat or face being ejected from the crowd. We as football fans are fools at letting ourselves being treated like this.

When fencing was removed, it made you fell a little less than an animal (just a little), so it's sad that some abuse this by running on the pitch. I (and the authorities to be fair) see the difference between people leaping onto the grass to celebrate - but those who squared up to Llanelli players, in what had been until then a thrilling match, played with lot's of commitment and in good spirit made me switch off and I didn't bother watching extra time.

This incident has only given the authorities an excuse to carry on treating ALL football fans like thugs IMHO.

It ill be sad if Bangor are punished, as those who went on the pitch were probably piss heads on a day out rather than true fans.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your sentiments. Squaring up to Andy Legg was the worst; although I hope the authorities draw a distinction between these fans and the ones who just were on the pitch and not confronting the playing staff.

Although in some respects it makes a refreshing change to read about pitch invasions with Welsh Premier clubs. Whilst I cannot condone the actions of Bangor fans, numerous other clubs in that league couldn’t even muster the fanbase for such antics!

Although Eric - you say your last pitch invasion was Halifax 1991, and then confess to being on the hallowed Sloper Road turf some eleven years later...!

Eric The Red said...

Well yes. The Halifax one was a proper "invasion" if you like. The joy of a goal, and the explosive celebration that terraces allowed just catapulted me onto the playing area.

The Leeds things wasn't an invasion really. It just felt like an afternoon stroll after the main event. I had no idea I was taking part in a riot. I think I had my hands in my pockets.

The Jet Set said...

I must admit I feel deeply ashamed of the actions of some of the Bangor fans who invaded the pitch, part of me also feels anger.

It's anger that some of those people on the pitch, and behind the goal, managed to share the glory without any prior effort.