Non-league player attacks fan


On January 25th 1995, after being sent off whilst playing for Manchester United against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, Eric Cantona responded to the taunts of a Palace fan named Matthew Simmonds by launching a double footed kick at him and followed that up with a series of punches. Cantona was convicted of assault and was ordered to do community service, as well as being banned for eight months by the FA.

Thankfully, incidences of players attacking fans in England are rare.

However, on January 25th 2014, one non-league captain decided to celebrate the 19th anniversary of Cantona’s offence by attacking a visiting fan.

Goole AFC are a semi-professional club, that currently play in the Northern Premier League Division One South, which is the 8th tier of English football. They have a pretty unremarkable history in English football, having played around the same level they currently do for the majority of their existence.

If you’re familiar with the geography of the UK, Goole is roughly halfway between Hull and Leeds and is also close to Football League sides Scunthorpe and Doncaster Rovers.

However, Goole AFC have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Yesterday Goole were hosting fellow Northern
Premier League Division One South side Coalville Town at their Victoria Pleasure Grounds stadium.

Goole lost the game 0-3, but this game will be remembered for an incident involving Goole captain, Karl Colley, a defender who was once on the books of Newcastle United and Sheffield United, but ended up spending his career playing semi-professional football.

Early in the second half, Goole were 0-2 down when Colley was sent off for a bad tackle. As he was making his way off the pitch, he apparently heard something he didn’t like from the visiting Coalville fans, and responded by jumping into the stand and confronting the fan. Colley was pulled away, but ended up making three attempts to attack said fan, and threw a punch.

Coalville Town’s twitter account documented the incident (spelling mistakes are not mine!)

The incident was also captured on video (with some strong language)

Colley was eventually restrained by the club kitman, Graeme Smith and by the assistant manager, former England under-21 and Sheffield United player Curtis Woodhouse (Woodhouse is also a boxer, and has held the English light-welterweight title). There were also (unconfirmed) reports that Colley was waiting in the car park after the game for the fan in question to emerge.

Goole sacked Colley shortly after the game. A statement of the Goole AFC website said:

“After the deplorable incident at today’s home game against Coalville Town, we can confirm that the player responsible has been released by the club.

We are a family club and incidents of this nature have no place in football and will not be tolerated at the Victoria Pleasure Grounds.

The club acted quickly and decisively and released the player with immediate effect and as such the player in question will never play for our football club again.

We apologise to each and every supporter at the game today and whilst as a club, we can’t legislate for incidents of this nature, we will not tolerate them from anyone”

Goole AFC secretary Andrew Morris said:

“Straight after the game he was sacked.

This is one individual. I spoke to Coalville after the game and they also said it was one individual. This is a shame because we’re just a group of volunteers. It’s disgusting and embarrassing.”

By some quirk of the fixture lists, Coalville are due to host Goole next weekend. Coalville have stated that they hold Colley solely responsible for the incident, and as such, bear no ill-will towards Goole.

Sadly, it seems as though this sort of behaviour isn’t a one-off for Colley. Yesterday also marked the one-year anniversary of his being sacked from another non-league club, Belper Town, for allegedly punching one of his teammates in training.

It was alleged by Belper Town manager Peter Duffield alleged that Colley had kicked fellow defender Matt Millns in training and then punched him. Colley was shown the door allegedly after reacting to Millns offer to shake hands and put the incident behind them by threatening him with further violence.

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