Yeovil fans still reeling from racism allegations

Yeovil fans still reeling from racism allegations

Yeovil maintained their National League promotion push on Saturday, but victory at Chorley did little to lift the dark cloud hanging over the club.

The Glovers’ proud reputation as a welcoming, family-orientated club was dealt a huge blow last week after their FA Cup tie at Haringey was abandoned amid allegations of racist abuse.

Haringey manager Tom Loizou took his players off the field after claims his goalkeeper Douglas Pajetat had been targeted by Yeovil fans.

Yeovil fan Richard Denney and son George made their message clear (Mark Walker/PA)
Yeovil fan Richard Denney and son George made their message clear (Mark Walker/PA)

The Football Association’s investigation will continue next week, while two Yeovil fans were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault and bailed without charge on Wednesday.

It was the first time an English football match at such a senior level had been abandoned in such circumstances and Yeovil’s fans at Chorley’s Victory Park shared a sense of shame.

“We weren’t at last week’s game and we were happy at not being there,” Richard Denney, 47, told the PA news agency.

“I was ashamed. I felt sad. I was out with my girlfriend on Saturday night and I couldn’t enjoy myself. I was hurt by what had happened to the club I love.”

Richard had travelled to Chorley with his nine-year-old son George, who had defiantly unfurled a banner he had made, which read: “Say no to racism”.

“I’ve never seen anything like that at the club in all my years,” Richard added. “I know the investigation is still ongoing, but there’s no smoke without fire.

“Something really unpleasant happened last weekend and I hope it never happens again.

“It takes years to build a reputation and a minute to destroy it and certainly what went on has gone a long way to doing that.”

It takes years to build a reputation and a minute to destroy it and certainly what went on has gone a long way to doing that

An estimated 200 Yeovil supporters made the eight-hour 450-mile round trip from Somerset to Chorley.

Save for some hearty singing by a hardcore of about a dozen, complete with a drum, the Glovers’ 2-1 win at Chorley passed without incident.

Chorley’s Ntumba Massanka cancelled out Matt Worthington’s early opener before Rhys Murphy’s late header lifted Darren Sarll’s side up to second place in the table, one point behind leaders Bromley.

Yeovil are bidding to bounce straight back to the Football League after their 16-year stay ended last season when they finished bottom of Sky Bet League Two.

Yeovil supporter Paul Mayston and daughter Colette believe the club will recover (Mark Walker/PA)
Yeovil supporter Paul Mayston and daughter Colette believe the club will recover (Mark Walker/PA)

But promotion talk was not at the top of fans’ agenda at Victory Park.

Paul Mayston, 61, and daughter Colette, 29, agreed Yeovil’s reputation had been damaged, but insisted the club would heal with time.

“I could not believe what unfolded at Haringey. Still can’t,” said Paul. “This club is the opposite of those clubs you usually associate with trouble.

“We’re just not like that. I’ve been going since I was a boy. Everybody knows most people and us older ones keep the more boisterous ones in check.

“We’ll tell them to calm it down, but that doesn’t happen often. We’re hurting now, but we’ll show everyone what this club is all about in time.”

Yeovil players applaud the fans at Victory Park (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Yeovil players applaud the fans at Victory Park (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Colette added: “The club and fans and the community are so close-knit. They’ll stick together and show the true face of Yeovil.”

Some Yeovil supporters, who refused to go on record, were not convinced the incident at Haringey was racially-motivated and feel the inquiry will fail to prove it was.

But Dan Watkinson, 21, still thinks Yeovil’s good name has been sullied.

“Definitely,” he said. “Most people think of Yeovil as a quiet little town. People don’t associate it with trouble at all.

“To think someone could have made racist comments and ruined our reputation as a nice family club could really damage us, but we’ll stick together.”

Ewan Berkley, 20, was critical of the media’s coverage of events at Haringey.

He said: “I think it’s wrong how the media have portrayed Yeovil because at the end of the day it’s only allegations (of racism).

“From what I’ve been told and seen there’s very little evidence to suggest there was racism involved.

“To think people could accuse us of that is wrong and the way we even ended up being talked about like that in the House of Commons is wrong.

“Go on social media. People from Yeovil have been sent death threats if they go to Haringey.”

The Glovers’ FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie with Haringey will be replayed on October 29.

More on this topic

Colin Sheridan: Handle with care: Do’s and don’ts of interim managerColin Sheridan: Handle with care: Do’s and don’ts of interim manager

James Milner signs new Liverpool contractJames Milner signs new Liverpool contract

Rashford focused on fulfilling potential after comparison to RonaldoRashford focused on fulfilling potential after comparison to Ronaldo

Neal Horgan: Limerick another dead fish in Irish football’s polluted watersNeal Horgan: Limerick another dead fish in Irish football’s polluted waters

More in this Section

International team still have the edge in Presidents CupInternational team still have the edge in Presidents Cup

Mourinho vows not to betray Eriksen’s trust by discussing their private talksMourinho vows not to betray Eriksen’s trust by discussing their private talks

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard expects to have his say on transfer dealingsChelsea boss Frank Lampard expects to have his say on transfer dealings

Wayne Rooney wants to go into management when playing days at Derby are overWayne Rooney wants to go into management when playing days at Derby are over


Lifestyle

Who hasn’t dreamt of cutting ties with the nine-to-five and living off-the-grid?The great escape: What's life like off the grid?

Jazz in Europe these days exists in a highly networked environment of cultural and political bodies, festivals, promoters, musicians and educators.Jazz Connective Festival: Intriguing, exciting and uncompromising

It will be bittersweet for Stormzy that his second album arrives the day the British Labour party was confirmed as suffering a historic general election trouncing.Album review: Stormzy remains a work in progress

Unique drawings by Quentin Blake, one of Britain’s best-loved illustrators, are available at a Christie’s online auction which runs until December 17.Your chance to buy drawings by Roald Dahl illustrator Quentin Blake

More From The Irish Examiner