England

Fan bailed in keeper push probe during Wear-Tyne derby

  • 17 January 2011
  • From the section England

A teenager who allegedly knocked Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper to the ground during Sunday's Wear-Tyne derby has been bailed by police.

An investigation has begun into crowd trouble at the game between Sunderland and Newcastle United at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.

Police made 33 arrests after rival fans hurled seats at each other during and after the match, which finished 1-1.

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce praised home supporters who assisted police.

Police and the FA are looking at the incident in which a supporter ran from behind the goal and appeared to push 35-year-old Harper to the ground in the immediate aftermath of Asamoah Gyan's injury-time equaliser.

Northumbria Police said a 17-year-old youth arrested in connection with the incident had been arrested and released on police bail until March.

An FA spokesman said: "We are gathering information at the moment and are awaiting a report from the match referee."

Steve Bruce added: "All I saw was Steve Harper on the floor. I didn't know what had happened at the time."

"We don't want to see this on the football pitch and unfortunately it is a sad indictment of the society we live in today," he added.

Northumbria Police said the majority of fans behaved well, but a small number were intent on causing trouble.

About 48,000 supporters attended the match at the Stadium of Light, where there was a large police presence.

'Anticipated disorder'

Officers said a new barrier system, which was in place to try to minimise disruption, was effective.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said 24 arrests were made before, during and immediately after the match for offences including being drunk and disorderly, disorderly conduct and going into the playing area.

Temporary Ch Supt Steve Neill, who was in charge of the policing operation, said: "The crowd was mainly good natured and the overwhelming majority wanted nothing more than to enjoy the action on the pitch in an atmosphere free from violence and disorder.

"However, there were still some troublemakers who were determined to spoil things for the genuine fans.

"We had anticipated the potential for disorder and had the resources in place to deal with it swiftly and firmly."

Pre-planned operations before the game were carried out including a search of 110 European football supporters at North Shields ferry terminal.

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