Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Stunned Ingham re-lives Luton v York play-off mayhem

Michael Ingham has described “the scariest moment of my career” after a section of Luton Town fans attacked stunned York City players after their Conference Premier play-off semi-final on Monday.

The former Northern Ireland keeper was caught up in the ugly scenes after he captained York to a 2-0 aggregate win and booked a second appearance at Wembley in 12 months.

As the York players stood in front of their adoring supporters, they came under attack, pelted with coins, bottles and other missiles.

Former Cliftonville and Sunderland custodian, Ingham, has revealed the extent of the attack which left him nursing a minor injury to his back.

Seven people have since been arrested and authorities have promised to punish those responsible for the violence by handing out anything up to 100 banning orders.

“It really was incredible; I've never seen anything like it in my life,” said the 29-year old.

“On television you see some crazy things happen in South America but this was very frightening.

“We had just gone over to our fans after winning and to be honest I hadn't a clue what was coming next as we all had our backs to the home fans.

“Then, all of a sudden, we started to see coins and bottles coming over our head and when I turned to look at what was happening, I couldn't believe it.

“I saw one guy lifting a broken glass bottle and throwing it in our direction. It doesn't really take a genius to know what damage could have been done if somebody had been struck with that.

“It really was mayhem. The police and stewards did what they could but the pitch was becoming crowded.

“I got hit in the back by something but thankfully I was moving and wasn't hurt in a bad way.

“The tunnel area had been blocked off so we were told to get into the stand with our fans while they tried to get the situation under control but even then there were still pelting us with things.

“Eventually we were taken into a police control room to get cover.

“It was the scariest thing I have ever faced in my career for sure and one that I hope is never repeated.”

Luton chairman and former television personality, Nick Owen, came to speak to the York players and staff to offer his apologies on

a situation which is sure to land his club in hot water.

The trouble came just a day after Crystal Palace player, Clint Hill, was attacked with punches when leaving the Hillsborough pitch after Wednesday were relegated to League One.

“To be honest I felt sorry for their chairman because it wasn't his fault,” added Ingham.

“He could not have been nicer to us and although I really don't think there were enough police there on the day, they did everything in their power to protect us, as did the stewards.

“We didn't get leaving Kenilworth Road until just after 7pm and on a day we should have been celebrating making it to the play-off final we're all talking about this.

“Maybe some fans had seen what had gone on the day before in Sheffield and they went for it but I don't know what they expected to achieve.

“Thankfully our players and staff were okay but I hear a few police officers suffered minor injuries outside the ground.”

Ingham also revealed the fear York's fans had to endure as they left the ground.

He added: “I had friends at the game and of course I was worried for them.

“Linfield player Aidan O'Kane's brother, Damien was there with his wife and 11-year old daughter and I'm sure it was horrible for them.

“I phoned him as soon I could and thankfully they were all okay but he told me the buses were attacked by people throwing tins of beans at the windows.

“For anyone that would be traumatic but for an 11-year old girl it's ridiculous and I'm sure there were many other kids there.”

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