Father, 60, tells of FA Cup tie violence

A 60-YEAR-OLD football fan has told of the terrifying moment hooligans hurled a table into his face during a brawl at a crunch FA Cup match.

Dave Gooderham

A 60-YEAR-OLD football fan has told of the terrifying moment hooligans hurled a table into his face during a brawl at a crunch FA Cup match.

Keith Baker, who needed 11 stitches to a deep head wound after the violence erupted during the Bury Town tie, said he could have lost his sight in the frightening incident - which happened at the Alfreton Town ground in Derbyshire as the Suffolk side attempted to make it into the second round of the competition for the first time in its history.

But their giant-killing aspirations against higher league opposition descended into chaos in the clubhouse during the half-time break.

Last night, a shocked Mr Baker, who was left with an inch-and-a-half long gash to his forehead, said he was buying a drink when he was hit by the table.

Football Association officials and police in Derbyshire have pledged a full investigation amid fears the thugs were “professional hooligans” intent on causing trouble.

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Mr Baker, who lives in Bury, said: “I am more angry than shocked as this could have been my son or his girlfriend or even a young child.

“I am also pleased that I didn't lose my sight - I could have done if it had been another inch down. At the time, I didn't even know what had hit me.

“I went to the match and met up with my son, Andrew, who lives near Alfreton. There was a little bit of banter between the two teams before the match but you expect that.

“Then at half time, we went to the bar when we saw some of their supporters standing in a big circle. I didn't think anything of it and I went to the bar. There was a skirmish and I turned round and the next thing I know I felt this searing pain in my head and I was covered in blood.”

Police drafted in about 15 officers and two dog units to control the disorder.

Mr Baker was taken to hospital at nearby Mansfield but decided to return to Suffolk on the Bury Town coach and went to West Suffolk Hospital on Saturday night for treatment.

His wife, Sue, said: “My son phoned me and asked if I was sitting down - I didn't expect to hear that. It was totally irresponsible and to be honest it could have killed someone.”

The violence marred Bury Town's 4-2 defeat at Alfreton and police last night refused to rule out whether the trouble was started by thugs set on violence.

A spokesman said: “We have heard rumours about professional hooligans and it is something we will be looking at in terms of the investigation.

“There has been no information as yet to suggest this is the case but at the moment it is not something we are discounting.”

A FA spokesman confirmed that the incident had been included in the referee's report into the match and that officials would now be contacting Alfreton asking for their “observations on the incident”.

No one from Alfreton Town was available for comment yesterday.

Police are urging supporters from both clubs to get in touch if they had any information by calling 0845 123 3333.