Walsall football fan who ran onto pitch given three-year ban
A football fan who ran on to the pitch during a Black Country Derby has been banned from attending matches for three years.
Martin Harrison ran on to the pitch during the Walsall-Wolves derby game at the Banks's Stadium.
The 41-year-old was arrested after going on to the pitch when Wolves striker Nouha Dicko scored the away side's first goal in a 3-0 win on March 8.
Harrison, of Valley Road, in Bloxwich, admitted pitch encroachment when he appeared at Walsall Magistrates Court.
During the hearing, he apologised to Walsall FC for his actions.
Mrs Jane Yeomans, prosecuting, told the court: "There was a football game fixture between Walsall and Wolves and kick-off was around 3pm.
"There was a general hatred between the two teams but at about 3.40pm Wolverhampton Wanderers scored their first goal and Dicko celebrated his goal by approaching the red and green stand, which had only Walsall supporters, of which Mr Harrison was one.
"There were a number of Walsall fans gesturing to Dicko and Mr Harrison then stepped over the advertising boards and walked onto the pitch.
"He was in the playing area and adopted an aggressive stance with his fists clenched.
"After several seconds he retreated into the stand where he was placed under arrest and taken to the police station."
Harrison, who represented himself in court, said he had been a football fan for 38 years and had only been in trouble once.
In his defence he claimed he had been provoked by Wolves players and said he intends to write to the Football Association about the incident.
He said: "As soon as I stepped on the pitch I realised I had made a grave error and I stepped off. I got caught up in the moment but I can assure you it will never happen again.
"I am not a violent person, if I was I would not take my children to football matches.
"This was a provocation from Wolverhampton Wanderers players and I will be writing a letter to the FA about it.
"I go to watch football regularly and also go to watch it in Belgium with two associates over there who are Belgian police officers.
"I would like to apologise to Walsall Football Club for the negative press they have received as a result."
Harrison was banned from attending football matches for three years and ordered to pay a £349 fine.
Chairman of the magistrates John Palmer was shown an image of Harrison running on to the pitch.
Mr Palmer said: "Looking at the picture we have seen that is a very aggressive stance and it is not acceptable.
"You will be banned from all football matches for the next three years."
A total of four fans were arrested as trouble flared at the game.