We very much hope that common sense will prevail when the Football Association considers the red card dealt to a player-manager for tackling the halfwit who invaded the pitch at Havant and Waterlooville’s match against Dorchester.
For surely any reasonable fan would agree that the visitors’ Ashley Vickers had to pay a severe penalty indeed for stopping the idiot in his tracks. He, like other players, had watched for around a minute as the fan, clad only in a ‘mankini’, pranced around, bringing the game to a halt.
The invader’s actions were unacceptable and Vickers undoubtedly wished only to see him removed from the field – a job that pursuing stewards had not yet managed. It’s not as if the player pounced before anyone had a chance to do anything – and who was to tell what might happen next? For as far as anyone knew, a fan stupid enough to run on to the field might then attack a player without warning.
And so, in what might be suitably described as one fell swoop, Vickers brought him down. One swift rugby-style tackle from behind and the clown was grounded, and soon removed.
Technically, perhaps, Vickers overstepped the mark. Referees and administrators will generally say that footballers should not take the law into their own hands.
But those in charge should surely exercise discretion in such an unusual case. Had the referee merely thanked Vickers for assisting him and the stewards whilst at the same time quietly reminding him that, in the perhaps unlikely event of a similar incident in future, he might err slightly more on the side of caution, then no harm would have been done.
The ref’s authority would have remained intact and the players could have got on with the game.
So let us hope for two things today. First that the spectator who broke the rules and ran on to the field is tracked down, banned by the Hawks and prosecuted for breaking the law and, secondly, that the football authorities strike out the red card mercilessly dealt to the man who stepped forward to stop the fool’s antics in order to get the game back on.