Violent incidents are “damaging the reputation” of Merseyside amateur football clubs
VIOLENT incidents risk damaging the reputation of Merseyside’s amateur football scene, it was claimed.
Club officials and police raised fears after a spectator was run over by a car during a row in Kirkby last weekend.
The trouble among fans came just weeks after the shooting of a player before a match in Woolton – with both incidents leading to calls for calm.
Concerns are mounting there could be a knock-on effect on the thriving network of amateur leagues across the region.
Police remain unsure of the reasons behind Sunday’s row – which flared during Ormskirk and District Sunday Football League matches involving a number of teams on pitches at Simonswood Playing Fields, in Kirkby.
League officials are set to hold an emergency meeting to discuss their response tonight.
Shortly before the chaotic scenes – which saw spectators armed with hammers and screwdrivers attacking each other – a match between Coleman’s and Sacred Heart FC had been abandoned.
The referee called off the clash due to the conduct of a Coleman’s player, but the club insisted the fans’ behaviour was a separate issue and not connected to the match action.
Coleman’s club secretary Bob Williams said relations between the two Kirkby-based sides were friendly.
He said: “Our player was sent off after 30 minutes of our match and we accepted the referee’s decision to abandon the game.
“It had not been a bad- tempered game and there had not even been a booking before then.
“Neither Coleman’s nor Sacred Heart were connected to what went on on the other side of the pitches, about 200 yards from where our match was taking place.
“Some of our players got caught up in things as they walked back across.
“One was left with a dislocated elbow and the other had a broken wrist.
“I saw the incident with the car and was disgusted.
“I have never seen anything like this in 40 years involved with the game. The worry is that people see this as something associated with the game when it is not something we recognise as part of Sunday football.”
Police have vowed to act fast to reassure fans across Merseyside after two incidents in the space of as many months surrounding amateur football.
In January, Alan Jopson, 27, was shot as he warmed up before a match at Simpson Fields in Woolton.
Three people were arrested and remain on bail over the incident.
Chief inspector for Knowsley, Kevin Wellens, said: "Incidents such as this, although rare, cannot be tolerated.
“The events were clearly upsetting to the majority of law-abiding individuals enjoying their football on a Sunday morning.
“The police are doing all we can to identify and catch the offenders.”
Eyewitnesses reported seeing families with children fleeing from the scene on Sunday.
Mr Williams said: “Football is a great game which all sections of the community should be able to enjoy without being subjected to incidents like this.
Anyone who might have information about either of the incidents should contact Merseyside Police on 101 or alternatively the Crimestoppers line anonymously, on 0800 555 111.