Woman fought off football fans

A BROOM-wielding heroine has been praised for single-handedly fighting off more than a dozen marauding football yobs in Manningtree.

Colin Adwent

A BROOM-wielding heroine has been praised for single-handedly fighting off more than a dozen marauding football yobs in Manningtree.

Police commended the bravery of railway station buffet manager Charlotte Sankey following the convictions of two Queen's Park Rangers fans for violent disorder.

Paul Colman, 50, and 57-year-old John Spear, who both had previous football-related convictions, were among around 15 London fans who injured bystanders while trying to wreck the bar.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard the 22-year-old manageress drove them out of the bar by swinging a broom at them.

Following the guilty verdicts, British Transport Police detective constable Alan Reed spoke of Miss Sankey's courage during the incident after Ipswich's home game with QPR on March 29 last year.

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Dc Reed said: “Colman and Spear were part of serious disorder which took place when a group of hooligans burst into the Manningtree railway station bar shouting “We are QPR”. Bottles and glasses were thrown and customers were injured.

“While it was going on Charlotte appeared from behind the bar waving a broom, swinging it around and got the hooligans out before closing the door on them.

“She was extremely brave in the circumstances, with missiles and furniture being thrown about the bar. Without her bravery there is not doubt other people would have been injured and further damage done.

“If it was not for her there would have been much more serious injuries. She defended herself, her customers and members of the public admirably.”

Miss Sankey said she did not have time to think about the consequences after she heard the disturbance while she was in the cellar

She said: “It was fight or flight. I heard glasses being smashed. I came running upstairs and saw mayhem going on.

“There were probably seven or eight of them in the bar and others were trying to get in. Glasses were flying around along with stools. Women and children were screaming.

“I picked up a broom in the kitchen and ran into the middle of the bar and tried to hit anyone who came in.

“I supposed adrenaline kicked in at first, but in hindsight it was really worrying. It's my dad's business as well so I wanted to protect the people in here.”

Spear, of Hillingdon, has previous convictions for threatening behaviour at a QPR v Celtic game and battery on a female steward at a match with Southampton.

Colman, of Watford, has earlier convictions for invading the pitch at a QPR v Port Vale game and threatening behaviour at a match against Plymouth.

They are due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on August 8. Both are currently on bail.