Does a slap in the face warrant more than a slap on the wrist?

by Graham Fisher

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

On Friday night Sheffield Wednesday met Leeds United in a fiery Yorkshire derby full of ferocious tackles and debatable refereeing decisions. Everything that is good about occasions like this was ruined by one Leeds fan who slapped an unsuspecting Chris Kirkland across the face.

Nowadays, in the English game as soon as the media get one sniff of racist abuse or the actions of violent fans, everything is blown out of proportion and the press hit the panic button. Yes, this man’s actions are out of order and I don’t condone them in the slightest but there is still a lot to be positive about in respects to the way the game is run in this country.

This story made national news and sent Wednesday boss Dave Jones into delirium calling the young man and others morons. The Owls manager has called for all Leeds fans to be banned from away games. Pointless is how I would describe this plan of action. We are talking about one man here within a crowd of decent people who love their football club.

Jones went on to explain after the game that other fans praised the offenders’ actions at the time of the assault and know of his reputation and current ban. If he does have a current ban then surely someone bought a ticket for him and the group of fans he was sat with were probably his friends and part of his plan to invade the pitch. Other fans in the stadium may also know who he /his friends are but this does not mean they were able to stop or predict his actions.

The furious Owls manager went on to blast opposition boss Neil Warnock for sending the Leeds players to applaud their fans at the end of the game. But the real question to ask is should the players being taking responsibility for their fans? In my opinion no, the young man who attacked Kirkland should take responsibility for his own actions and undertake the punishment deemed suitable by the courts for what he has done.

Only one thing can be expected of the Leeds fans and that is to come forward with any names or descriptions of other people who invaded the pitch. Jones is right not to tolerate this sort of behavior but has to be calm and collected in the way he deals with how it affects him and his football club.

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  • Leeds and still proud

    Good article and one of the few that gives a more clinical view. I have support Leeds for 40 years and seen fans from many clubs let their team down. This is no different other than it is an isolated incident unlike the 70s and 80s when it was a weekly occurence. Leeds are one of the best supported clubs in the UK and the overwhelming majority of our fans are, whilst noisy, well behaved and help fill grounds. I fear that Mr Jones comments may well cause more damage to the games image than the twit that slapped Kirkland. I hope he retracts parts of his statement, but i doubt it and I feel that he has now painted a big target on his back by, basically, telling the morons with their vile chants, that they have got to him. Warnock should not have said ‘ he went down…’ it was obvious to all that Kirkland exagerated the impact, but it does not in any way give an excuse for what the INDIVIDUAL idiot did. MOT

  • allan

    the idiot needs to be locked up its took a lot of years for true leeds fans to be ableto travel and see there team lets hope its not going to send us back ten years or loose any points because of 1 persons ,he should suffer not everyone

  • joe morrison

    your always going to get some mindless idiots among the 5000+ away fans and im not condoning what happened but surely a couple of police officers with doge would have stopped these fans running onto the pitch

  • alan whitnall

    as a wednesdaay fan seeing these comments brings more than the game into disrepute, until leeds fans take into consideration their actions the game will desend into what we had in the 80’s. a game with violence and cages around the pitches. to just make out this as a trivial matter is just so leeds .stand up and realise that the rest of football is fed up of leeds and the hatred it brings. punish the club and the fans will realise football will not stand for their behavior and wory that their club will suffer if this cotinues. other supporters will then consider their behavior at away grounds. 12pts deduducted and a suspended relegation over 2 years. FOOTBALL does not need these fans

  • owlsfan

    and lets just forget the seats that was ripped up and advertising boardings ripped off by the sweet well behaved leeds fans,or maybe we should carry on putting the blame totally on this one man and pretend nothing else happend shall we?……..

  • Brian ‘Still Leeds and Still proud

    I can see the halo’s swimming gently around the heads of the innocent fans of Sheff Wed, pathetic that you attack Leeds and totally ignore their part in this, their genuine jealousy of Leeds and utter hate they have shown. You must thbink it a joke or not worth mentioning the vile chants about two family lads that were stabbed to death, and there was not just one chanting in the Sheff stands. Not one Leeds fan I have spoken to agrees with that idiot. Don’t try and come across as innocent, it make you look foolish.

  • Mortonsblue

    The Birmingham fan that ran on the pitch in a local derby in 2002 and slapped the Villa goalkeeper playfully was sent down for 4 months! The precedent has been set.

  • Dave

    Sorry Dexy and Lasp, but where do you get the “slap” from? The idiot gave a violent shove directly under his jaw. Because it was unexpected, Kirkland’s head was jerked bad and was similar to whiplash in a car – sometimes serious, sometimes not so. Luckily, this one turned out to be not so.
    Joe – a bit contradictory, pal. You say with 5000+ supporters, surely a couple of police officers with doge would have stopped these fans! Perhaps you or your mates can tell these two officers exactly where to stand and which ones they need to stop!
    Although on tv I didn’t hear the Wednesday fans chanting about the lads stabbed, others have made the same comment. That is sick and the Wednesday fans should be ashamed of themselves. As should the Leeds fans’ with their vile chants, bottle etc throwing and ripping out seats.
    Bring back the Olympics when everybody loved everybody!

  • Dave

    jerked back, not jerked bad – sorry.

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