Punches thrown as violence mars Tadcaster Albion’s FA Vase exit
Tadcaster Albion’s FA Vase quarter-final replay defeat was marred by violence that blew up after the final whistle.
Highworth Town snatched a 1-0 victory at the i2i Stadium which fired the Wiltshire side into a semi-final against Northern League side North Shields.
After full-time, supporters invaded the pitch and an ugly confrontation between players, officials and fans from both sides then ensued.
Highworth chairman Rohan Haines was left with a bloody nose in the melee and Worthians goalkeeper Gary Stevens was also injured.
Stevens was caught in violent exchanges with Tadcaster striker Carl Stewart close to the tunnel.
Tadcaster chairman Matt Gore said the on-field brawl began when a Highworth goaded “hard core” members of the home support.
He claimed the same supporter had been throwing coins during the first half and was involved in a half-time spat that left a Taddy supporter on the floor.
Gore said Highworth’s officials had apologised to him for the behaviour of the fan.
On what happened at full time, Gore said: “Two minutes before the end of the game, their officials and fans walked from the Ken Gilbertson stand right round to the corner ready for a pitch invasion.
“That became reality when the final whistle went.
“I understand the celebrations but the same young man that had been throwing coins came running on amongst all our hard core fans, goading them and waving his arms saying ‘come on then’.
“One of our fans rugby tackled him and the rest is history.
“There were so many people flying in, kicks, punches.
“Their chairman is saying he got punched, their goalie is saying he got punched and some of our players are saying they got punched.”
The brawl looked to have been dying down as the players walked off before it erupted again near the tunnel, with players and spectators involved.
Gore said he did not see any players throwing punches but said the club would hold a full inquiry into the aftermath.
He said: “I will look at the video, look at the circumstances and we will deal with it appropriately.
This will not get brushed under the carpet.”
Highworth secretary Fraser Haynes downplayed the incident and said “tomorrow it would all be forgotten”.
He said: “Their captain has apologised to me because one of their players has punched our chairman in the face.
“It’s just a bit of excitement. That one minute of excitement and it’s just a bit of handbags.
“I didn’t think it was that bad.”
Albion boss Paul Marshall added: “I feel absolutely sick about it what’s happened. There needs to be a full inquiry into it.”
Police attending the aftermath of the game said no complaints had been lodged and no arrests were been made.
Albion broke their record attendance for the fixture with 1,307 spectators attending the crunch FA Vase quarter-final.
A victory would have put them one round away from a trip to Wembley stadium.
Gore admitted the club had not been fully prepared for the record numbers of supporters, which was boosted due to York City and Leeds United both playing away.
The chairman said: “The stewarding was up to scratch, but whether there was enough stewarding is a different question.
“We didn’t anticipate over 1,300 fans today. We were hoping to get 1,000.
“That’s an unbelievable number. I want to thank them on behalf of the club for turning out.
“You drive through Tadcaster and see the shop windows all dressed up. I just hope the aftermath of today doesn’t put people off coming again. It’s a one-off, clearly.”