Alfreton town face stadium safety probe

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POLICE are being urged to probe crowd safety at Alfreton Town FC’s stadium following trouble during a match against Grimsby Town.

Football banning orders were imposed on three hooligans by Chesterfield magistrates who viewed CCTV footage of their part in disorder at the Impact Arena.

The court heard that fans kicked and pushed temporary fencing segregating rival supporters on the Alma Street enclosure on January 7.

Young ballboys had to be moved to safety from a “no-man’s land” section of terracing after Reds fans rushed towards the 1100-strong Grimsby contingent behind the barrier. Police eventually managed to move back the home supporters and re-establish the divide.

“We are very concerned about the adequacy of the segregation. The fencing was flimsy and, had it given way, there could have been a much more serious incident,” said presiding magistrate David Sobjak.

“We would appreciate it if the police would speak to Alfreton Town Football Club about supporter safety.”

Ten men were charged with using threatening behaviour or disorderly conduct after police studied crowd footage from the Blue Square Premier League clash, which Grimsby won 5-2.

PC Richard Marshall, who was on duty that day, stated that many away fans appeared to be more interested in looking towards Reds supporters on the other side of the fencing than watching the game.

He added: “The atmosphere was changing totally during the match. It got more heated as Grimsby took the lead. Fans ran towards the fencing, shouting abuse, and my fear was that it would give way.

“Every time a goal was scored the atmosphere got more intense with items thrown by away supporters during goal celebrations. I feared for my own safety.”

Steward Pamela Adams, who had worked for the club for four years, felt scared for herself and ballboys when rival fans charged towards the fence, kicking and pushing it.

She told police: “The behaviour of a small number of Alfreton and Grimsby fans was awful. It wasn’t normal banter between fans.”

Joseph Ellis (22) of Market Place, Ironville; Kelvin Swindell (20) of Adelaide Walk, Ironville; and Anthony Woodward (48) of Sedgwick Street, Jacksdale, all pleaded guilty and received three-year football banning orders, with £85 costs.

Swindell, who had previous convictions for non-football related disorder, was fined £215 while Woodward and Ellis were fined £220 and £88 respectively.

A further seven men have denied the charge and await trial in August. They did not attend the hearing with the court’s agreement.

Peter Jones, for Woodward, a county council driver, said he was a Nottingham Forest season ticket holder who had attended games for the past 35 years and had never been in trouble before.

“There was considerable provocation from the away fans but the response wasn’t acceptable. He’s fed-up of the whole situation and he doesn’t want to go to football anymore,” said Mr Jones.

Swindell, a Derby County season ticket holder, said he watched Alfreton that day because it was a big game for them against a former Foootball League club and he “got carried away”. He added: “I have to grow up.”

Ellis, who had no previous convictions, told the court: “It was a one-off game for me. I don’t really go to football. It was a spur of the moment thing - I was shouting and I got involved.