SUPPORTERS of Sheffield Wednesday have condemned the hooligan who pushed Owls goalkeeper Chris Kirkland to the ground - and called for stricter controls on yobs subject to football banning orders.
The suspect believed to be responsible for assaulting Kirkland is a 21-year-old Leeds United supporter, with a series of convictions for breaching previous banning orders.
Steve Walmsley, who writes for the Owls fanzine War of the Monster Trucks, said: “It just felt like we were going back to the dark days of the 1970s.
“There are questions to be asked about the whole banning order system and how effective it is. There’s always a chance someone can get in.
“But I do acknowledge that unless you’re going to stop and check the credentials of every one of 5,000 people, which would be impossible, it can happen. It’s very difficult.
“Maybe if you have a banning order you should report to a police station every time Leeds United play, and then you’re locked up in a cell for the duration.”
Steve added: “There are some serious questions to be asked about why that game was allowed to happen on Friday night. People were able to finish work and go drinking.
“If you’re going to play a game on that night the risk management has to be better. As soon as the incident started, the police should have been there. Leaving the stewards on their own to deal with the situation didn’t work.”
Steve said he thought police were not drafted in early enough.
“If the police had been brought in earlier, as soon as the trouble started, and lined up in front, it would have been far less likely that individuals would have got on to the playing pitch.”
Paul Walshaw, from supporters’ group Wise Old Owls, said: “Certainly the stewards should have prevented them from running on to the pitch in the first place.
“They were not quick enough on to the pitch to stop others coming on.
“It’s very disturbing. It’s not happened for many years at Hillsborough. Nothing is going right for them at the moment, what with the background of the Liverpool fans and the disaster, and Friday night brings the club back to the forefront again with issues not concerning football.
“It’s not helping the club’s image. I feel very sorry for them at the moment.”
But he said banning orders were difficult to enforce.
“I don’t think there’s any way you can stop people coming into the ground. They might put some sort of disguise on - it’s very difficult to recognise someone in a baseball cap.
“It’s not working if there’s nothing to stop people coming in.
Leeds United supporters have also criticised the thug - in a post on an internet blog called The Scratching Shed, one supporter branded the hooligan a ‘mindless idiot’.