Blades ball boy racial abuse claim probed

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SOUTH Yorkshire Police are investigating an allegation that an Oldham player racially abused a ball boy during the game against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Lee Croft has denied there was a racial context but admits he tried to apologise to the ball boy after disturbing scenes.

He was seeking to get the ball back in play as the game moved into stoppage time.

But it appeared that the ball-boy kicked the ball away as Croft tried to retrieve it for a throw-in.

Winger Croft appeared to holler at the youngster.

And the lad certainly seemed upset by what he’d heard.

Croft tried to apologise afterwards but the ball boy would have none of it and would not shake the player’s offered hand.

The Oldham winger was reported in The Sun as saying: “The lad was wasting time and tried to kick the ball away as I tried to retrieve it for a throw-in to restart the game. In my frustration, I had a go at him.

“The United fans had a go at me for that so I tried to say sorry at the end.

“But, when I tried to apologise, he didn’t want to know and refused to shake my hand.

“I’m told there is a complaint against me but what have I done wrong?

“Why should I be in trouble when all I’ve tried to do is get the game restarted quickly?

“Football is passionate and, at that late stage, it was vital to get on with the game quickly as we searched for an equaliser.”

Police have confirmed they are looking into the claim that an unnamed player abused the ball boy during the npower League One club’s 1-1 draw.

The Greater Manchester side said the player denied the racism allegation and that they and his team-mates were fully supportive of him.

In a statement, the club said: “Oldham Athletic Football Club was made aware by South Yorkshire Police after today’s npower League One match at Sheffield United of an allegation of racist abuse by one of its players.

“The player has categorically denied the allegation and the club and his team-mates are fully supportive of him.

“The club understands that the police are making enquiries into the allegation and, as a result, will not be making any further statements in relation to this matter.”

Referee Scott Mathieson added seven minutes on to the game as extra time, during which Oldham levelled at 1-1.

The Football Association said it was aware of the incident and was looking into it.

On Twitter, Daniel Talbot posted: “You could clearly see the ball boy was upset at the end.”

But Latics fan Peter Atherton commented: “Isn’t it the job of a ball boy to give the ball to the player, not kick it away?”

Courtenay Crawford tweeted that a “United player asked the ballboy to pass it to him how was it the ball boys fault he was doing what he’s told.”

Another League One club, Brentford, announced last night that they were looking into a racially-abusive comment posted about their striker Clayton Donaldson on Twitter.

A statement from the club read: “The club takes all forms of discrimination very seriously and will seek to take action against the person concerned.”

Did you witness the ball boy bust-up at Bramall Lane? Email us, with your name, address, phone numbers and statement, with Ball boy incident in the subject field, to news@thestar.co.uk