Aston Villa have promised to “re-educate” stewards after a teenage fan was needlessly ejected from last Sunday’s Birmingham derby. Kieran Comerford was thrown out for pitch encroachment after heading a wayward ball back on to the pitch.
However, his momentum meant he fell head first over the advertising hoarding to widespread laughter from those who witnessed the incident. Rather than see the funny side, though, half a dozen Villa stewards piled in and ejected him from the ground for encroaching on to the playing area.
“We were walking back towards our seats in the Doug Ellis Stand after half-time when I saw the ball coming towards us. I used to play a bit of football so I headed it back. It wasn’t a bad header but the momentum pushed me forward, I lost my footing and slipped over the hoardings,” said Kieran.
“All the fans laughed and cheered, but before I could even get up I was escorted out by stewards. I kept asking them what I had done but they refused to answer me. I went to Villa Park the next day but they just fobbed me off. They said somebody would call me in the next couple of days.”
The incident was featured on Match of the Day 2 which sparked a response from Villa’s hierarchy, with Chairman Randy Lerner’s right-hand man General Charles C Krulak promising to “re-educate” stewards. See the incident on MotD2 here, 53 minutes in, available until this weekend.
A regular visitor to Villa’s online fan forums Krulak posted: “Stewards have a great deal to do with the atmosphere around the club. If they are judicious in the exercise of their responsibilities, if they understand the concept of “customer friendly”, they will be far more effective.
“They need to exercise fairness in the treatment of all fans, home and away. John [John Handley, Villa’s Head of Security] is meeting with all the senior stewards to “re-educate” them on how to carry out their duties. Obviously, they do have a responsibility to ensure health and safety, but how they go about it is very important. We will fix this. Over zealous stewards can destroy the atmosphere of the club as fast as poor play.”
Villa fans have roundly criticised the stewards action rightly pointing out that what should have been a funny, light-hearted incident was needlessly turned into an antagonistic one. One poster described the incident as “the worst piece of stewarding seen at Villa Park” while others suggested a refund was the very least the club could do - Kieran’s ticket cost him a whopping £46, although he missed very little in a goalless second half.
“My header was probably one of the best bits of the game.”
The Football Supporters\' Federation on Facebook.