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.