CHIEF EXECUTIVE of Grays Athletic, Andy Swallow has defended his actions in standing up to a Tilbury fan who was allegedly accosting and intimidating elderly and vulnerable fans.
A bumper crowd of 430 had enjoyed the game in the Bank Holiday sunshine as Grays, playing champagne football, won the game 3-1.
The fans were not segregated but there seemed to be no need. The Grays contingent and the Tilbury fans exchanging what many considered to be good natured banter.
But as the final whistle blew the trouble began.
Mr Swallow described the scene.
He said: “It appeared that there was one particular Tilbury fan who was goading the Grays fans. As elderly, vulnerable and young fans passed by he was slapping them on the head. He appeared to slap one fan particularly hard.
“Meanwhile, a young Grays fan came up to me and told me he was going to take his Grays top off as he didn’t want to run the gauntlet.
“I went up to the fan and told him to leave our fans alone, to stop bullying people and to get out of the ground.
“The fan squared up to me but I walked away.
“Perhaps I should not have got involved but on a great day for football, with a great atmosphere, I did not want to see elderly fans intimidated and upset.”
Two fans exchanged blows on the terrace but it is anticipated that they may not be joining Mike Tyson or Jake La Motta in “An Audience With” nights at Mr Swallow’s Academy in Loughton.
Personnel from both clubs tactfully and discreetly defused the situation. Grays and Tilbury fans retired to the bar to reflect on a marvellous afternoon of football.
Representatives from Tilbury were not available for comment at the time of going to press.