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In a case of hooliganism with a twist,a stadium steward in northern England was trampled on by a police horse while hundreds of fans ran onto the field at the end of a League Cup match. The incident occurred late on Monday at the end of a game involving Preston North End and Blackpool when hundreds of Preston fans invaded the pitch to celebrate their 1-0 win in the West Lancashire derby.
During the melee,a steward was knocked over by a police horse as he was trying to bring a fan under control. The steward rolled over on the field and was then trampled by a second police mount. On Tuesday,Preston insisted that,contrary to earlier reports,the steward was not taken to the hospital after being assessed by medical staff at the ground.
“The only steward to receive any injuries at the stadium was working in a part of the stadium occupied by the visiting supporters,” the third division club said in a statement.
Last season,English football was marred by a series of incidents involving fans that were reminiscent of the worst hours of hooliganism in the 1970s and 80s. Wembley was the theater of violent fighting as second-tier club Millwall fans turned on each other during a FA Cup semifinal match. In Newcastle,fans went berserk following a loss to local rivals Sunderland,clashing with police in the city center.
Following Monday night’s incident,the English federation said it would be liaising with both clubs and police “to get a full picture of events and what preparations were in place.”
Police said two people were arrested for criminal damage to one of the supporters’ buses outside the ground,with another four people held for minor offences.
“Due to the match being a local derby,we had additional resources in place and as a result we were able to quickly respond to the pitch invasion that occurred at the end of the match to disperse the crowds and to bring back order,” police superintendent Richard Morgan said. “I would like to stress that it is only a minority who have been involved in the disorder,with the majority of supporters enjoying the event and getting home safely.”
Preston now face the prospect of a penalty because of their disorderly fans. The club said their security measures were appropriate and condemned the fans who invaded the pitch.
“Given the historic rivalry between the two clubs we ensured that our ground safety pre-match planning considered all aspects of potential crowd issues to ensure that all supporters could attend the match in a safe environment,” Preston North End said. “This preplanning included a significant increase in stewarding and also appropriate police presence both inside and outside the stadium.”