FANS ACCUSE STEWARDS OF ASSAULTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Stags' stewards accused by fans
CHAD website, 28APR2007
photos also on CHAD website
HEAVY-HANDED football stewards have come under fire from angry Stags' fans – and been accused of assaulting freelance photographer Dan Westwell.
The stewards chased and apprehended several teenage fans after supporters ran onto the Field Mill pitch at the end of Mansfield Town FC's final home game of the season.
But some have complained that the stewards used excessive force – and older fans watching from the sidelines have joined in the condemnation.
Earlier, the stewards had rolled out a plastic tape - and an announcement was made - in a bid to stop fans staging the traditional run onto the pitch at the final whistle.
But when some supporters broke through, the stewards grappled with younger fans, forcing some to the ground, and led many others away.
However, one fan, posting at the Chad's Your Shout section of the website http://www.chad.co.uk, said: "I feel sick to my core after the behaviour of some of the stewards at the end of the game.
"Several of them behaved appallingly. I saw one steward kick a lad of about 14, he then proceeded to frogmarch another young lad with his arm twisted behind his back before moving to the crowd to invite a couple of others to fight him. This included him sticking his middle finger up at the crowd.
"Other stewards stood goading fans and behaving like paid thugs. I am ashamed of their behaviour. Today was a stain on the name of Mansfield Town FC and I am deeply troubled by what I have seen."
Another fan told Chad: "I stood and watched grown men punching, kicking, grabbing in headlocks and marching young kids out of the ground. I also saw two or three of them piling on and also some of the stewards laughing and goading each other to get more of them."
The fan added: "To top it off, as I was leaving the Quarry Lane End I saw that photographer (Dan Westwell) getting beaten by about six stewards while his girlfriend was being held against the wall by her throat.
"It was disgusting and I for one will never ever set foot inside Field Mill again. If this is what Mr Derry (the chairman) is happy with then he can shove it."
Mr Westwell and his fiancé Helen Allsop have complained to police after the alleged assaults at the end of the match in the Quarry Lane End stand.
He told Chad: "I was taking photographs at the end of the game when a few stewards came over, got heavy with me and told me to leave the ground. I said I was waiting for the players to come back out for the lap of honour, but they accused me of taking photos of the stewards.
"As I started to leave through a tunnel at the Quarry Lane end they started to run towards me and before I knew it I was being picked up by an arm around my neck, while a few of the others were punching me in the back of the head and in the kidneys, as well as kicking me.
"I was being hit from all angles . . . then a load of fans came down the tunnel and I screamed at them to help me as I was being beaten up. The stewards let go of me and I started to make my way to the exit.
"My fiancee Helen was trying to help me and she was slammed against the wall by a steward by her throat.
"I heard quite a few fans saying 'They've hit Dan' . . . We were both shaken up really badly."
Mr Westwell has clashed with the stewards previously this season. They have accused him of taking their photographs and also threw him out of the ground earlier this year for displaying a photograph of a 'Haslam Out' protest roadside on his laptop.
That led to him being accused of making a gesture at club chairman Keith Haslam, for which he is awaiting sentence by Mansfield magistrates.
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Last Updated: 28 April 2007
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