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Batman and Robin save Accy Stanley assistant manager

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Crewe Alexandra are to launch an internal investigation after Accrington Stanley assistant manager Jimmy Bell was wrestled to the floor by five stewards following his team’s 5-1 defeat on Saturday.

Stanley’s number two said he was “publicly humiliated” at the incident which he also claimed was entirely unprovoked. In a further twist it appears Bell was saved from further punishment by Batman and Robin – and no, it’s not April 1st.

The incident at The Alexandra Stadium (aka Gresty Road) unfolded when Bell walked over towards Stanley’s away support to applaud them for their loyalty. So far, so good. It’s always nice to get a bit of recognition from your team isn’t it? Especially if you’ve stuck with them through a 5-1 hammering.
   
“I’ve no idea why it happened,” said a dumbfounded Bell. “The fans had been fantastic and I went over to the ref at the end of the game, shook his hand, then took four or five strides towards the away fans.”

However, when Bell tried to follow Stanley manager John Coleman stewards intervened. Why they would want to do that is beyond us but it’s typical of the experience of fans up and down the country – do as I say. Or else.

ZONK! “The next thing I knew five men were jumping on me and I was manhandled to the floor. It was absurd. All I wanted to do was applaud the fans who were absolutely magnificent in their fancy dress and doing the conga.”

But rather than celebrate with Stanley’s fancily dressed fans Bell had to rely on some superheroes in the away support who were over to help faster than you can say “Holy Overreaction, Batman!”

KAPOW! “I had Batman and Robin jumping out of the crowd to help me along with Rob Heys (Stanley’s chief executive) who ran out of the stands when he saw what was going on.” Bell told the Lancashire Telegraph he will report the incident to both the FA and local police while Crewe have launched their own internal investigation.

While the superhero aspect lends the story a comedic edge there is a serious, underlying point too as the incident needlessly provoked fans, players, management and coaching staff. Stewards are there to keep the peace and they’d do well to remember that at times rather than act as some sort of fluorescent militia.

It’s not uncommon for the FSF to hear from fans telling tales of over zealous stewarding, it’s one of the most common complaints we get. The needless criminalisation of fans was also a major talking point at our Sit Down, Shut Up event which took place in London back in March.

You have to think things are getting out of hand when even club officials are on the receiving end and, unbelievably, it’s not the first incident of its kind this season. Although there was no sign of the Caped Crusader last time.

There was hell on at the Hawthorns back in March when Reading’s Brian Howard claimed WBA’s stewards tried to attack the Royals’ players post-game. Trouble flared when stewards attempted to stop players from celebrating with fans at the final whistle. It soon descended into a shoving contest. “Even after the match the stewards tried to get on the coach but luckily they were stopped otherwise it would have been carnage,” alleges Howard. “They started taking their jackets off and pointing at us to get off the coach and fight them.”

We’re not arguing that all stewards are thugs, far from it, but football clubs are often far too willing to dismiss fans’ concerns around aggressive stewarding. However, if even players and coaching staff are noticing a change in attitude – from traditional steward to wannabe nightclub doorman – the powers that be have to listen. Don’t they?

If you have any policing and stewarding complaints email the FSF’s Amanda Jacks or call us on 0330 44 000 44.

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