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Brawling players await punishment

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Joel Taggart | 09:16 UK time, Monday, 25 January 2010

It is nice to know there is a demand for pictures of Irish League football around the world. Just a pity it was not for the right reasons on this particular occasion.

There I was sitting in the BBC sports office when my colleague who many listeners to Sportsound will know, Grant Cameron, sitting opposite me in the office, set his phone down with a chuckle.

He had just taken a call from a Swedish television station and, would you believe, they wanted to know if we could get them pictures of an Irish league football match. But not just any game, no they wanted to see the cup tie between New Ry City and Lar Ne.


That is because of the disgraceful scenes at the Newry Showgrounds.

I listened like many of you I'm sure, as Paul Gilmour and Alan Paterson described in total amazement what they were watching unfold before their very eyes. Many of the photographs made for gruesome viewing.

It really does leave you scratching your head at times, wondering what goes through the mind of a footballer. What brings a player to the point where, as one photograph shows, he feels the need to seemingly attempt to gouge an opponents eyes. Or in another case, apparently attempt to kick an opponent while he is lying on the ground. What are they trying to achieve?

I wasn't there, so I cannot and will not attempt to apportion blame, but the referees report makes interesting reading.

The IFA disciplinary committee's action against players, coaches and managers who they feel overstepped the mark must be swift and decisive. I understand the maximum ban that they can impose on any player is two years.

I hope, if they feel it is appropriate based on evidence that they receive, they are brave enough to use such a sanction.

As for the future participation of the clubs in the competition, that will be down to an IFA-appointed commission, set up to avoid the all too familiar wave of appeals and counter appeals that we have seen after similar cases in the past.

It removes the power from the Challenge Cup committee, and means that representatives of clubs still involved in the Cup this season, who would sit on that committee, cannot be accused of handing down a punishment with an eye on protecting their own patch or trying to settle a previous score with one of the clubs involved. At least someone at the IFA had the foresight to head that one off at the pass.

Personally, if the evidence is damning, then expulsion from the cup for this and possibly future years for either one or both clubs has to be considered.

Fines are not the answer here. The two clubs involved, from what we are lead to believe, do not have two beans to rub together. What positive purpose would a fine serve when everybody knows the clubs cannot pay it?

The people who must suffer are the players who were involved, not the man on the board of directors who has to go begging and borrowing to get the money together to pay the fine. I doubt the players will be dipping their hands into their pockets.

On the basis of what my colleagues who were there told me, and the photographs that were taken during the violent exchanges, it is clear that a number of players involved do not deserve to be anywhere near an Irish Cup final. I sincerely hope that those found guilty by the footballing authorities are not given the chance, for this season at least.

It is a pity that television cameras were not at the game to help identify the main cuplrits. At least it meant we could not send that nice man in Sweden the pictures that would have resulted in Irish League football being seen in the worst possible light. Next time, and there will be a next time, the players may not be so lucky.


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  • 1. At 10:06am on 25 Jan 2010, Rob wrote:

    I don't understand why the culprits in this debacle are not facing criminal prosecution never mind IFA sanctions? If this sort of disgraceful brawl happened in a field as opposed to on a football pitch they would all be guilty of several offences.

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  • 2. At 10:18am on 25 Jan 2010, Starburst_995 wrote:

    @ Rob.

    Agreed. Forget simply banning them, draw up charges of GBH against those involved and jail them. They're not above the law, as Joey Barton can speak of first hand.

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  • 3. At 12:46pm on 25 Jan 2010, Monty_DXB wrote:

    Going purely on that picture in the blog alone, that number 8 should be the first up on criminal charges. That sort of action on the street would see you in the dock (you'd probably get off with a warning these days though) and rightly so. That is brutal and should never ever be seen on a footie pitch or anywhere else for that matter. There is no excuse or justification for it and the player should have been banned without the chance of ever being allowed on a pitch again and without the chance of ever getting an appeal.

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  • 4. At 1:34pm on 25 Jan 2010, U2097702 wrote:

    As an Everton fan I usually base such actions against Duncan Ferguson's imprisonment for an action on a football pitch and that pales against the pictures of what happened in Ireland.

    Should be criminal proceedings and life bans for the worst offenders - the no8 and the 'captain' (ha) gouging especially.

    Terrible behaviour on a high street let alone a football pitch!

    Ps all allegedly of course

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  • 5. At 1:43pm on 25 Jan 2010, gee wrote:

    As others have said, I can't believe that criminal proceedings aren't being discussed here.

    If a man kicks someone in the head on the street it can actually be considered attempted murder, albeit not in all cases.

    Also, if that was a pub league game those players involved would almost certainly have lifetime bans.

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  • 6. At 2:17pm on 25 Jan 2010, Steve Thomas wrote:

    Agree with the sentiments so far. Long bans and criminal procedings are what are needed here.

    Good to see a blog on the Irish League - i hope to see more. And a blog for the Welsh League would be good too please Mr BBC...

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  • 7. At 2:24pm on 25 Jan 2010, Eddie67 wrote:

    @oozatden At 1:34pm on 25 Jan 2010, oozatden wrote:

    As an Everton fan I usually base such actions against Duncan Ferguson's imprisonment for an action on a football pitch and that pales against the pictures of what happened in Ireland.

    Ferguson turned round and headbutted someone who had absolutely no chance of defending themselves, while he was out on bail.

    Hardly pales to some punching and kicking.

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  • 8. At 2:38pm on 25 Jan 2010, lordlucanismissing wrote:

    Surely a two year ban for the players involved is the least that can be expected here? You think you've seen everything in football and then this...

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  • 9. At 2:51pm on 25 Jan 2010, David S wrote:

    Absolutely disgusting behaviour. The thugs that caused those scenes(not all the players)have no place on a football pitch. What message does this send to kids? I really hope it's the players that get punished and not the clubs. That no.8 needs a v.long ban.

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  • 10. At 2:53pm on 25 Jan 2010, Garry Nelson Is A Legend wrote:

    I am absolutely disgusted, this should not be happening, these are professional footballers. I am sure a lot of children look up to these guys, and what impression does this give to them? If you are playing football it's alright to kick someone in the head! I don't think so. I believe for all those people who want to fight weather it be on a football field or on the street, they should be sent to Iraq or Afganastan, to see how hard they really are.

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  • 11. At 4:13pm on 25 Jan 2010, EesyP wrote:

    Yes, of course the police should have an involvement - no excuses. However, isn't it sad that the only time Irish League football makes it into the main BBC Blogosphere is to report something like this. There is, generally, some very good football played in N. Ireland that is ignored by the mainland media as a whole.
    For instance, a guy called Rory Patterson - a striker with Coleraine FC - scored a goal against the current Champions, Glentoran, which, had it been scored by a player in one of the mainland leagues, would have been a very strong contender for Goal of the Season. It was one of four he scored that day. The final result being 0-6. By the way, he scored another four on Saturday past. This time against the league leaders, Crusaders. After all that, you would think he would be a local hero but - NO - things are not quite that simple in Irish League football.
    The guy is only twenty-five years old and arrived at Coleraine, during the summer break, after spells with Rochdale, FC United, Bradford PA ending last season playing for Droylsden. No one in the Irish League had heard of him. Now there is no question that he is a first class goal-scorer but, it's obvious, the lad seems to have commitment issues or problems with management. Something!
    On Saturday morning, news was leaked that Rory had signed a pre-contract agreement with Glentoran and would be leaving Coleraine at the end of the season. The Coleraine fans were not amused!! Although he scored four goals the fans were not to be placated and the Forum on the Coleraine FC website has been red-hot all weekend.
    The point of all of this is that if the mainland sports media were to lift their parochial heads of their desks they would find stories in Ireland (and Wales) just as, if not more, interesting than the run-of-the-mill fare usually served up.
    The other side of that coin is, Irish League football may cease to be so parochial and the players, that are the main subjects of this blog, may think twice before commiting a common assault on fellow players if they know the whole country is going to read about it. Rory Patterson may show more loyalty to the club that gave him another chance. The IFA may think twice about subsidising Windsor Park, wasting IFA money on Employment Tribunal payouts while at the same time Irish League clubs are struggling to stay in business. Maybe just maybe!!

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  • 12. At 4:16pm on 25 Jan 2010, richwebb101 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 13. At 4:24pm on 25 Jan 2010, Scott Walker wrote:

    I was shocked and amazed that this was happening in a professional competition, you would have to go far to see this on a sunday pub league pitch.

    I sincerely hope that the Irish FA hand this over to the assaulted players to file assault charges against the assailants and then ban them from the Cup competition for 2 years.

    These pictures show how grotesque violence of this nature is.

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  • 14. At 5:45pm on 25 Jan 2010, Fatladni wrote:

    I think anyone who thinks these scenes are acceptable in football at any level needs help of some kind.
    To a certain extent I agree with Gearge Peel.There must be far better things to report about the IPL than this donnybrook,and over a fortnight after they actually occured.
    I'm not saying to bury them completely but please if they are going to be debated then do it at the time.
    imo,any player found guilty of any wrong doing should never again be in a position to bring shame on the name of football,at any level.
    Life time bans and then handed over to the PSNI.

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  • 15. At 6:24pm on 25 Jan 2010, abscondicon wrote:

    @oozatden At 1:34pm on 25 Jan 2010, oozatden wrote:

    As an Everton fan I usually base such actions against Duncan Ferguson's imprisonment for an action on a football pitch and that pales against the pictures of what happened in Ireland.

    Ferguson turned round and headbutted someone who had absolutely no chance of defending themselves, while he was out on bail.

    Hardly pales to some punching and kicking.


    Some punching and kicking, Eddie?

    Did you happen to gloss over the picture above? A man on the floor with a boot to the back of the head. Absolutely disgraceful scenes and I agree with those who call for criminal proceedings.

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  • 16. At 9:42pm on 25 Jan 2010, insidesoccer wrote:

    Seven thousand miles away I listened to the commentary of the Newry/Larne match on the internet and became "wide awake" as I heard commentators Paul Gilmour and Alan Patterson try to "explain" what was happening before their very eyes. Needless to say both of them seemed to be in a state of "shock"

    By the tone of Alan's voice he was unable to describe the behavior that was unfolding before him. In his own words "he had never seen anything like it in his forty years in the game"

    Scenes like these have no place in the game and all the players involved should receive the maximum "punishment" for their behavior. The Larne manager should be held to a "higher standard" and he should be banned from any involvement in the game.

    Both clubs should be fined and not be allowed to play in the Irish Cup for a period of no less than three years. They should also be put on probation and and any futher incidents would mean automatic termination from be allowed to play football in the Irish League.

    The future of the game lies in the hands of IFA Officials. I am not sure they are up to it, based on some of their decisions over the past couple of years. But this should be an "easy decision" to make. Even for them.

    Break the rules, you get punished. Bring the game into disrepute and all concerned should pay the penalty

    Why those who were involved have not be charged with criminal behavior, is disturbing and even at this late stage both the IFA and the clubs should be promoting a full investigation by the authorities?

    Players have a responsibility to the game, their fellow players and the and fans. Behave like a social misfit and suffer the consquences.

    In would appear the game in Northern Ireland is at crossroads. Lack of "leadership" at the top, clubs in financial chaos and now over paid players who have decided to throw away the rule book and give their version of WWF/ice hockey/ rugby.

    Why did it happen and what needs to be done to prevent it happening again?

    Lets pray that common sense and the handling of incidents such as this, will let the true fans of the "beautiful game" know that they can't stand on the sideline and just be "bloggers"

    Fans need to take the "people game" back from "incompetent,dishonest, and corrupt individuals who are only in the game for their own benefit.

    The Newry/Larne game is only a symptom of "what is wrong" and I hope that the it will be warning that will not go unnoticed.

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  • 17. At 9:54pm on 25 Jan 2010, Andrew Scullion wrote:


    I was at the game and I agree that the players involved from both sides should be the focus of any punishment rather than the clubs. Although the rather brief report from the referee only names three players when there were at least one more player from each team involved. It may be that the clubs should take responsibility, conduct their own investigations and discipline players not named on the referee's report.

    I also wish to point out that NO member of the coaching staff of either side was involved in any fighting, on the contrary they were trying to calm things down.

    It is also interesting to note that the officials didn't leave the pitch until things had calmed down, contrary to what is being reported. I think you can see one of the linesmen in one of the press eye photographs, while I observed the referee in and around the Newry dugout throughout the trouble.

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  • 18. At 5:01pm on 26 Jan 2010, Joel Taggart wrote:

    Thanks for all your contributions, keep them coming. Slap on knuckles from returnollatladni acknowledged. Although the blog was written a week and not a fortnight after the events at Newry. I'm not that slow :) I will endeavour to be a bit more prompt.

    Totally agree with the feeling regarding criminal proceedings. If such a case of disorderly behaviour happened on the streets of Newry then the police would certainly be involved. This is a wider issue where those involved in such actions think that because they are in a sporting arena it doesn't matter, that they are above the law. Perhaps it needs a prosecution to make them think twice?

    I have a lot of sympathy with eesyP, i've really enjoyed watching Coleraine this season, they play a great brand of football which is a credit to the players and manager Davy Platt. Losing the talented Eunan O'Kane to Torquay was a blow, but the current situation surrounding Rory Patterson threatens to overshadow the 2nd half of the season. I can understand the frustrations of the fans but I personally can't get my head around why signing a pre contract at Glentoran resulted in booing Patterson at Crusaders at the weekend. If he had signed a pre contract and then obviously wasn't lifting a leg for the rest of the season then yes i'd see the point. But his contribution on Saturday surely proved that's not the case. He could quite easily still fire Coleraine to a Cup success or top 3 finish in the league with his goals. I've an awful feeling some fans at Coleraine are perhaps biting off a nose to spite a face. Remember, Darren Boyce went to the Oval, it didn't work, he came back to Coleraine. If Pattersons adventure in East Belfast doesn't work out, the fans reaction may help make his mind up if he would want to return to the Showgrounds.

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  • 19. At 09:37am on 27 Jan 2010, EesyP wrote:

    Thanks Joel! Yes, my post was written from the perspective mainland readers would be reading it and was using the Rory Patterson story to illustrate the Irish League to the uninitiated. To show them what they were missing.
    I'm a Coleraine supporter living in England so can only keep up with what is going on on-line i.e Radio Ulster commentaries, Coleraine FC website etc. It seems, on Saturday, there was an untimely misunderstanding when Rory failed to appear with the rest of the team. The referee had objected to the colour of his shinguards or boots or somesuch so he had to return to the dressing-room, change whatever it was and was late arriving on the pitch. The Coleraine supporters, not knowing this and coupled with the morning's news, took it as more Rory Patterson high-jinks and responded accordingly.
    I'm a Rory Patterson fan! No Coleraine supporter in his right mind wouldn't be. January and he's scored twenty-four goals for the club!! When was the last time that happened at The Showgrounds? The guy has an agenda - good luck to him. I also think Coleraine should hang on to him as long as possible and use him to their advantage. After all, pre-contract agreements are not legally binding on either party so anything could happen between now and the end of the season (whenever that's going to be this year). I'll predict now, should he go to Glentoran, he has no intention of seeing out his contract but is using them as a stepping stone just as he used Coleraine. I suspect his ultimate goal is back on the mainland. Ideally - for him - with Celtic.

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  • 20. At 10:07am on 16 Feb 2010, blaps wrote:

    There really shot to the head I guess

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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