ACCRINGTON Stanley’s assistant manager Jimmy Bell said he was ‘publicly humiliated’ after being wrestled to the floor by five stewards in a bizarre incident.
Mr Bell had been walking over to applaud the 186 ‘absolutely magnificent’ travelling Stanley supporters for their vocal support during the 5-1 defeat at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.
But as he approached the fans, who had come in various fancy dress outfits, he was tackled by club stewards.
It prompted a pitch invasion by some of the Accrington supporters, dressed as Fred Flintstone, Batman and Robin, who came to Bell’s aid as chaos broke out in front of 3,800 stunned supporters.
Mr Bell said he had a bruised throat after being struck by a steward’s knee in the melee.
The Football Association has launched an investigation. Mr Bell said he would be making a complaint to police once the FA inquiry was complete.
He said: “I had my friends and family at the game, my two sons were in the crowd and had to witness this absolutely disgraceful, totally unprovoked incident.
“I was publicly humiliated.
Mr Bell said that CCTV footage of the incident was being sent to the FA and that referee Oliver Langford would be including it in his report.
“I’ve no idea why it happened. The fans had been fantastic and I went over to the ref at the end of the game, shook his hand, then took four or five strides towards the away fans.
“John Coleman was 30 yards or so ahead of me, but I was confronted by a steward who said I couldn’t go over.
“I told him that I was and he started shouting for assistance. The next thing I knew five men were jumping on me and I was manhandled to the floor.
“It was absurd. All I wanted to do was applaud the fans who were absolutely magnificent in their fancy dress and doing the conga.
“Instead I had Fred Flintstone, Batman and Robin jumping out of the crowd to help me. Rob Heys (Stanley’s chief executive) ran out of the stands when he saw what was going on."
A spokesman for the FA said they would wait on receiving the referee’s report, which should arrive at FA headquarters by Monday or Tuesday.
He said: “If the referee’s report brings an incident to light, we’ll investigate further and look at any available evidence.”
No-one at Crewe Alexandra was available for comment.