Town star: I feared for Billy's safety

IPSWICH Town player Jon Walters has spoken of the moment he and his team-mates fought off a pitch- invading Leeds fan who attacked young star Billy Clarke.

By Derek Davis

IPSWICH Town player Jon Walters has spoken of the moment he and his team-mates fought off a pitch-invading Leeds fan who attacked young star Billy Clarke.

Walters and Alan Lee grappled with a man who ran on to the pitch to confront the Irish teenager before stewards dragged the offender away.

The confrontation came moments before hundreds of Leeds followers staged a pitch invasion and ran towards Ipswich fans congregated in a corner of the Elland Road ground.

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The Football Association have launched an inquiry into the mass invasion which could lead to sanctions against the Yorkshire club, who are now almost certain to be relegated.

Walters branded the invaders as “stupid” and admitted he feared for Clarke's safety.

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He said: “You have to look after your mates. The fan could have had anything in his hand so we just wanted to get him off Billy.

“We knew something was going to happen and it was a shame.

“It was a pretty stupid thing to do by the fans because they will probably get a points reduction or punished in some way.

Ipswich Town captain Fabian Wilnis said he was concerned for Blues fans, including young children and disabled supporters, amid the chaos.

He said: “I was worried for the Town fans when the Leeds fans ran on.

“I can understand why they would be so scared and ran off because it was not pleasant, so they deserve a lot of credit for behaving so well.”

Wilnis described how he was escorted off by Leeds security staff.

He said: “I was quite calm really. As all the players ran off I found the biggest steward and walked off with him. None of their fans came near me really.

“We expected some fans to come on the pitch. They are so fanatical and it seemed they didn't care if they got a lifelong ban because they were so upset that their beloved Leeds went down.”

Both sets of players stayed in the changing room during the half hour delay before going back out to play out the remaining 45 seconds.

Wilnis said: “It was hard coming back out after half an hour but the referee knew the importance of the game, especially as they knew that Hull had beaten Cardiff, so he wanted to pay the remaining 45 seconds and let Leeds take the corner. It was all or nothing for Leeds and the referee did well to stay calm.

“We stayed in the dressing room and had to just wait patiently and tried to be ready for that final minute.

“I thought the fans would run on the pitch again but thankfully they didn't.”

An FA spokesman last night confirmed Leeds United and their supporters were facing sanctions.

Mark Hooper said: “In the first instance it's a criminal offence to encroach on the pitch and we will be liaising with the police on that matter.

“We will be making various inquiries. We will wait to see the reports from our crowd observers and the referee's match report and will also be seeking observations from the club as to what happened.

“It's too early to say what action the FA would find appropriate but it would be very unusual for that to be a points deduction.

“It's more likely any individual found guilty of an offence will be banned and we would make sure the club is taking the right steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.”

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