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Kicking ref was 'biggest mistake'

PUBLISHED: 18:22 17 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 March 2010

SHAMED footballer Andrew Coote today insisted kicking a football referee was the biggest mistake of his life.

However, he believes it was the correct decision for him to be spared jail after he attacked Ipswich official Christopher Dale in a Sunday League game.

SHAMED footballer Andrew Coote today insisted kicking a football referee was the biggest mistake of his life.

However, he believes it was the correct decision for him to be spared jail after he attacked Ipswich official Christopher Dale in a Sunday League game.

Coote, whose case attracted massive media attention, told the Star in an Exclusive interview that thinks the incident has been 'blown out of proportion because it's a referee'. He also claimed that if it had happened in a nightclub then he would have only received 'a slap on the wrist'.

Coote, 21, from Radcliffe Drive, Ipswich, was ordered to pay £800 compensation to Mr Dale after kicking him in the stomach. He also had to pay £55 costs, will serve 100 hours community service and attend an anger management course.

"My solicitor told me I had a 50/50 chance of going to jail," said Coote.

"I went to court prepared for it but if I had been sent to prison then it would have been very harsh.

"If this had happened in a nightclub, I would have received no more than a slap on the wrist but this has been blown out of proportion because it is a referee."

On Sunday, April 6, Coote's Belstead Arms team was playing St Clement's in a Select Technical Services Premier Division match.

After 15 minutes Coote, who had already been booked after an incident with a team-mate, committed a foul.

Coote said: "I went in for a tackle won the ball but got a bit of the player as well. The referee said 'I know you got the ball but go away please'.

"The players on the other side went up to the ref and said it was a tackle from behind. I was sent off and that got me so angry that I did what I did."

Coote started walking off the pitch before noticing an altercation involving his brother Craig and Mr Dale.

"My brother said to the referee 'you are spoiling a good game'. The referee said 'I know I am and I'm getting away with it," Andrew Coote claimed.

He added: "My brother grabbed the referee by his shirt collar and that's when I kicked him in the stomach.

"I did try to walk off the field but it was just a moment of anger and I just lost it and kicked out."

After the game Coote, a former Stoke High School pupil, went to the police station and told them what happened. He also sent a letter to Mr Dale saying sorry to him.

"It is the biggest mistake of my life but I cannot do any more than apologise," said Coote.

"I'm sorry for kicking him but his actions were wrong and the referee spoilt a good game."

Coote had been sent off four times in his career before this incident. He was dismissed at the end of last season resulting in a 14-week ban. He now has a life-long ban but insists he is not a thug.

He said: "People can have their own opinions but those who know me know I am not like that. I'm not a violent person. I just have a short temper."

Ipswich referees have threatened to go on strike because of fears over their safety.

Coote said: "That is up to them. I cannot take any blame for that. If they think I should have gone to prison that is their opinion. I have been punished for my actions but all the hype is just because it is a referee."

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk


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