U's want answers over gravel incident

COLCHESTER United's Chief Executive is demanding answers after a Southampton player allegedly threw gravel into the family enclosure during Saturday's game.

COLCHESTER United's Chief Executive is demanding answers after a Southampton player allegedly threw gravel into the family enclosure during Saturday's game.

A number of U's supporters have said that Northern Ireland international Chris Baird was involved in an incident during his club's 2-0 defeat at Layer Road.

Now Colchester Utd's chief executive, Marie Partner, has now written to her counterpart at Southampton, asking for an explanation.

But Baird yesterdaysaid he had simply been shaking gravel from his arm after slipping at the side of the pitch and also apologised to any fans who could have been hit.

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The linesman reported the incident to referee, Dean Whitestone, but he did not mention it in his match report, so the FA will not be involved.

And yesterday, Essex Police confirmed they were unaware of the incident, saying they believed the game to have passed by peacefully.

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But on Colchester Utd's official message board, fans said they were disgusted by Baird's alleged actions.

Simon Goodey said: “Number 21 it was, got some of the grit from the floor from outside of the pitch and threw it at the fans a few seats from me and my brother.

Another said: “Something needs to be done about the incident. It was a total disgrace.

“I stand level with the goal line and saw the whole thing. I for one will be writing a letter or asking to see someone when I pop into the club in the week. Great result, poor attitude from some away players.”

Matt Hudson, media manager at Colchester Utd, confirmed the official stewards' report mentioned an incident.

He said: “It was reported to stewards in the area at the time and they took names and details of people involved.

“Marie (Partner) has written to her opposite number at Southampton, saying this is the situation and can you speak to the player concerned and ask for an explanation.”

He said Colchester's safety officer had also written to his opposite number.

But in a statement released by Southampton yesterday Baird said: “I am extremely sorry if any fans were hit by the grit. I slid off the field and grazed my arm on the running track

“As I got up, my arm was still covered in gravel and I shook it off. As I flicked my arm, possibly some of it might have flown into the crowd which was very close to the pitch but I certainly did not throw it.

“I would not have done that because I am not that sort of person. I have a child of my own and I am very conscious of behaving correctly.

“It was not done in temper or anything like that. It was simply a case of shaking the grit off my arm and there was definitely no intent for it to hit anyone and I sincerely apologise if that was the case.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Unless the matter is reported to police, it will be a matter for both clubs to deal with.

“As far as we are concerned the whole event passed peacefully and both sets of fans were well behaved.”

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