Police identify Kirkland attacker as FA confirm investigation into Yorkshire derby night of shame
12:34 GMT, 20 October 2012
A hooligan who ran on to the pitch and assaulted Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland during Friday night's match against Leeds has been identified by police.
The suspect, who has been named on social media sites but not by police, has yet to be arrested after former England goalkeeper Kirkland was shoved in the face amid ugly scenes at Hillsborough.
The Football Association is also investigating crowd trouble at the Yorkshire derby and is awaiting the referee's report.
Kirkland was assaulted by a Leeds fan after the visitors had equalised.
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Disgrace: The fan caught Sheffield Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland flush in the face with a sickening assault
VIDEO: Chris Kirkland is punched in the face by a fan…
The shocking scenes were broadcast
live on Sky Sports and fans were quick to condemn the trouble on Twitter
and Facebook. That led to a suspect being named on sites, and a mobile
phone number being circulated.
South Yorkshire Police's senior
investigating officer, Detective Inspector Mark Monteiro, said: 'With
the public's assistance we have clearly identified the offender who ran
on to the pitch during last night's game between Sheffield Wednesday FC
and Leeds United FC and who is suspected of assaulting the Sheffield
'We are dealing with the complaint
made by the player and we are currently taking statements, collating
evidence and making inquiries to locate and arrest the offender.
'We are also using CCTV footage from
around the ground to identify suspects who may have been responsible for
other offences before, during or after the match.
'I'd like to thank the supporters and general public who have provided information and assisted with our inquiries.'
A number of supporters from the away
end ran on to the pitch after Michael Tonge's 77th-minute equaliser at
Hillsborough and one approached Kirkland from behind before knocking him
to the ground by hitting him on the face with both hands.
Vicious: The fan grimaces as he goes in to attack Kirkland
Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5)
Wow, watching the Sheff Weds vs Leeds game….that fan is a disgrace. Shocking. Been a good game too.
Gary O'Neil (@Gazoneil)
Wow what have I just seen on my tv! Absolute disgrace. #leedsfan
Kyle Walker (@kyle28walker)
The fan could have had anything on him great goal ruined but a silly man. These things should happen anymore
Phil Neville (@fizzer18)
Can't believe what I've just seen in the Sheffield wed vs Leeds game!
Matt Taylor (@Official_MattT)
Absolute disgrace what that Leeds fan did tonight. I could not believe my eyes. Kirkland did well not to retaliate #noplaceforthatinfootball
An FA spokesman said: 'We are investigating the events of last night and awaiting the referee's report.
'The FA condemns the scenes at
Hillsborough last night. We have begun an immediate investigation and
have been in contact with both clubs.
'We would call for the authorities to
identify and bring before the courts anyone who was involved in any
form of criminal disorder.'
Leeds manager Neil Warnock led the
condemnation of the flashpoint describing the thug as a ‘moron’ and
calling for him to be ‘prosecuted and put in prison’.
His opposite number Dave Jones —
equally outraged by travelling supporters who ripped up seats and
chanted abuse at him — said Leeds fans should be ‘banned from every
ground in the country’.
An emotional Jones branded Leeds fans
‘vile animals’ after the 1-1 draw and also clashed angrily with Warnock
after he gestured for his players to walk to the away end and applaud
the fans who had heaped shame on their club.
Within minutes of the incident, fans
on social media sites claimed to have identified the culprit — an
infamous Leeds hooligan who they said had been in trouble three times
for flouting football banning orders.
also said there had been five arrests for various offences including
public order before and after the game, while three people were ejected
from the ground and 12 were subject to dispersal orders.
The scenes at Hillsborough will cause the FA acute
embarrassment following their stance over crowd behaviour in Serbia at
Tuesday’s Under 21 game, where England’s black players were racially
Pain: Kirkland holds his face after the incident
Jones, whose side had led through a
Jay Bothroyd header in the 44th minute, was taunted about allegations of
which he was cleared more than a decade ago.
He said: ‘People go on about racism,
but chants like we heard tonight are a form of that and Leeds need to
clean their house up and get it in order. I’ve had it for 12 years, but
that doesn’t make it right, because we are talking here about vile
‘It is an absolute disgrace, and the authorities have to sort it out quickly, otherwise they will keep doing it.
‘They are vile animals, all of them,
and I don’t care if that’s tarring them with the same brush. They should
be, because those who were chanting should be ashamed of themselves,
and so should those who sat by and did nothing. I thought we’d left all
this behind 20 years ago, and it sickens me that we are still having to
put up with it.
‘Chris is sore and dazed and may even
be slightly concussed. I had a go at Neil for telling his players to go
and applaud those animals. I was really annoyed about that.
‘They clapped them for what Wrecking
our stadium Beating up our keeper They’re probably doing the same to
the police now. You talk about morals, and then he does something like
Warnock said: ‘I felt embarrassed to
be a manager when I saw that. It was an absolute disgrace. They should
get the guy and prosecute him and put him in prison.
‘He (Kirkland) went down like a ton of bricks but that doesn’t make a difference. Nobody should be on the pitch doing that.
‘That moron has spoiled everything for
everyone. I am not proud of being Leeds manager when I see that. I am
absolutely embarrassed. They had enough security, but if a person like
him with a five-year-old mentality wants to get on, they can’t stop
Treatment: Leeds fans chant and jeer while Kirkland lies injured
Warnock apologised on saturday morning for saying Kirkland went down easy.
The Leeds boss said on Sky Sports: 'I was out of order saying that. There is nobody should be allowed to get on the pitch and do that to Chris.
'It's a minority who got on the pitch but you only need a small group, a few morons put everyone else to shame.'
Leeds issued a statement saying:
‘Leeds United Football Club would like to publicly apologise and condemn
the action of the fan. The club will co-operate fully.’
Chairman of the Leeds United Supporters' Club Ray Fell wants action taken quickly against the assailant although he pointed out poisonous chants from both sets of fans contributed to the hostile atmosphere.
Fell told Sky Sports 1: 'The only hope for most of us is the police act quickly and this lad is brought to task for it. He let the club down and he let us all down.
'The only thing we don't like about it – it wasn't the Leeds fans who attacked the goalkeeper, it was a Leeds fan who attacked the goalkeeper and the other issue is also what fuelled it. Both sets of fans were chanting.'
Ripped down: A sign is torn from its berth at Hillsborough
Of Jones' description of Leeds fans as 'vile animals', Fell added: 'I think in fairness to him, no-one likes and I certainly deplore the chanting that went on. I can understand his anger at that.'
Fell was critical of the ease with which fans were able to get onto the pitch after Leeds' equaliser.
He added: 'These clubs need to make sure the stewards works properly – the Taylor report seems to have been forgotten in recent years and it's time we went back to looking at these things and that the grounds are properly policed and stewarded.'
In 2002, a Birmingham fan who ran on
the pitch and taunted Aston Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckelman was
sentenced to four months in jail.