Last Monday’s nail-biting match between Mansfield Town and York City was quite an occasion.
Almost 7,500 die-hard fans flocked to the One Call Stadium to watch their teams battle it out in the play-off semi finals.
There was so much anticipation and excitement that it felt like we were witnessing a cup final. Mansfield was sadly defeated in the final minutes, but the majority of spectators behaved just how I would expect them to – with dignity and respect.
We issued a plea to fans in recent weeks not to invade the pitch after the match or they would face a football banning order, which would prevent them watching their much-loved team play at any future games.
There will always be, however, a select few who ignore the pleas of the club, stewards and the police by going on to the playing area.
A York fan invaded the pitch and he was followed by three Stags fans.
This created tension in the stadium and resulted in officers having to go on to the pitch to encourage fans to leave.
All four were arrested and spent several hours in the cells at Mansfield and were later charged under the Football Offences Act.
It may seem that it’s a harmless gesture, but invading a football pitch is actually against the law. It also creates a significant safety issue, particularly for vulnerable supporters such as the disabled, children and the elderly, and could result in someone getting injured.
What fans should have considered is that the match was televised, the ground has CCTV, and some police officers had video cameras - so we have images of those who went on to the pitch.
We will now be reviewing this footage and seeking to identify those we have not already spoken to.
We want Mansfield Town to be a successful football club and have supporters who are well regarded and respected.
The aim is to make football a police-free event but that can only happen if fans respect each other and the law.
It is fair to say that the majority of spectators were fantastic and let down by a select few. I hope that next season brings real success for the club.