A former football manager has gone on trial accused of headbutting a steward to the floor and raining “punch after punch” on him when he was sent from the touchline during a game.
Steward Simon Oliver told a court the then Luton Town manager Gary Brabin, a former star player for Hull City, assaulted him and a colleague during the club’s Blue Square Premier away game against York City on April 19, last year.
Brabin, 41, who was sacked from Luton in March – after his team were beaten 2-1 at home by York – allegedly became irate after one of his players was fouled during the first half of the match, which York went on to win 1-0.
The court heard that after a brief confrontation between himself and the York coaching staff he was sent off when fourth official Paul Cook heard him shout towards the opposition dugout: “I will get you afterwards you f***ing p***k.”
Mr Oliver and Paul Lovatt, the other steward who claims to have been assaulted, allege Brabin headbutted Mr Oliver to the floor after being manhandled into the tunnel, causing him to bruise his head and fracture his finger.
At Selby Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Mr Oliver said: “The headbutt caused me to fall into the wall and eventually hit the floor.
“Then he just started wind-milling me, I just did whatever I could to defend myself, putting my hands over my face and trying to get to my feet.
“I was just trying to stop him getting to the fourth official or the other team. I was using myself as a human shield when he pushed me. He came right up to me chest to chest, face to face and was shouting over my shoulder at the other team.
“It was only when he said ‘you can f*** off an’ all’ before shoving me that we made the decision to physically take him down the tunnel.
“It was once we got to the junction in the tunnel that he headbutted me.”
Mr Lovatt is the managing director of Delta Security, the company which had the contract to steward the York City games.
He told the court: “Brabin was displaying all the adversarial symbols of somebody ready for a fight.
“His shoulders were pushed back and his chest was pushed out. His teeth were bared and he was pushing forward.
“Eventually I made the decision to intervene. The safety manager, who is in control, did not give me permission but that’s why you have a response team, sometimes there just isn’t time.
“There is a lot of history between the two clubs and the York fans from behind the main stand were already chanting ‘get him out’ and after he pushed Simon I made the decision that we needed to physically remove him from the touchline.
“I didn’t want the situation getting out of hand and giving us crowd control problems after the game.
“When we took him down the tunnel he headbutted Simon and caught me with one of his swings on my right cheek.
“I was in shock for a second, you would never expect that when walking someone from the touchline.”
Brabin’s barrister, Brian O’Neill, said the manager was a little too agitated but claimed that it was not unusual for football managers to get excited and curse during games.
He claimed the stewards had no authority to intervene in the situation and said their over-zealous actions caused had made the problems worse.
“He was making his way towards the tunnel to leave the game but shouted a few parting shots on the way,” said Mr O’Neill.
“It was the reaction of you and your colleague at that time – the pushing – that caused his reaction.
“You got involved with something which no one needed your assistance with and you made matters worse.”
Brabin, of Liverpool, denies two charges of assault and one public order offence. He claims he was dragged to the floor by the stewards which led to their injuries.
Luton’s rivalry with York was re-kindled last week when the Minstermen defeated the Hatters at Wembley to deny Luton a place in the Football League.
The trial continues.