Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Northern Ireland soldier fears lifetime ban from Leeds United ground

 

Craig McKelvey being escorted off the pitch.
Craig McKelvey being escorted off the pitch.
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A lifelong Leeds United fan from Co Down who was dragged off the pitch by stewards at Elland Road at Friday night's game now fears a life-time ban from the club he loves.

Newtownards man Craig McKelvey (33) got "caught up in the euphoria" following promotion-chasing Leeds' third goal in a 4-0 win over West Brom in the Championship.

But now the serving soldier fears he will never get to take his baby son to a Leeds game as a result of his one-man pitch invasion and fully admits he completely let himself down.

His run was finally halted by West Brom's 6ft-plus manager Darren Moore, a former centre back.

"I don't know what happened, it was just a spontaneous reaction," the remorseful dad-of-one told Sunday Life.

"As soon as we bagged the three points we needed I completely lost it - I can't describe the excitement and emotion that went surging through my body."

Leeds finished the night top of the Championship while McKelvey finished up in a police cell.

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He was freed from police custody at 9.30am yesterday and says he has been ordered to appear at a Magistrates' Court on March 19.

"I'm very disappointed in myself and woke up with a lot of regret this morning," said Mr McKelvey.

"I will probably get a ban, but I just hope it isn't a life-time ban."

Craig McKelvey runs on to the pitch.
Craig McKelvey runs on to the pitch.

He recalled his moment of madness, running on to the pitch in a state of euphoria after the third goal in the 63rd minute which sealed the points for Leeds.

"Three stewards were running behind me and at that point I realised what I'd done - all I could do was laugh at that point," he said.

After one of the orange-jacketed stewards fell on his face trying to bring him down, West Brom boss Darren Moore went in for the tackle and brought the pitch invader's straight run to an abrupt end.

"I can't even remember if I said anything to him (Moore) but it would have been banter," he said.

"I'm completely appalled at my behaviour and have been beating myself up. I've let myself down but I wasn't a danger or risk to anyone."

McKelvey has stood by his beloved team through "their best and worst days" and has regularly attended matches with his dad from when he was only 10-years-old.

He is now based in North Yorkshire with the Army and he gets to attend a lot more games and dreams about one day going with his newborn son.

"I understand I need to be punished, otherwise you'd have everyone running on the pitch but the thought of never being able to take the wee man (his son) to a Leeds match is just devastating," he said.

On social media he has posted a photo of himself with Leeds and NI star, Stuart Dallas. Leeds previously posted a video of McKelvey and Army personnel greeting players at Elland Road.

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