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Gillingham fan learns of punishment after ‘assaulting’ Lincoln player

A Gillingham fan learns of a punishment handed to him after being caught assaulting a Lincoln City player earlier this season.

39 year old supporter Ross Mitchell attacked Tayo Edun in the back after the player scored a goal for Lincoln and celebrated by running into the home stand at the Priestfield Stadium.

The heated scenes came after some Gills supporters booed the away side when they took the knee at the start of the League One match, Mr Edun’s then-teammate Cohen Bramall said.

It left the 23-year-old Imps player, who has since joined Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers, wary of interacting with fans, which “kills the game” for him, he said.

KentOnline state that Mitchell appeared in the dock at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court this week, dressed in a white shirt, black jacket, dark trousers and tie, and admitted one count of assault by beating.

Over 4,000 fans were at the attendance when Edun broke the deadlock in a game on August the 7th, court heard.

Footage from the match was played to the court showing him sprinting with Bramall past the line between the pitch and the stand.

Prosecutor Terry Knox said: “Whilst Mr Edun and Mr Bramall are just beyond that threshold, whilst they are facing away from the defendant, the defendant pushes Mr Edun twice to the back. During the incident Mr Edun’s forehead clips Mr Bramall.”

Mr Knox said the crowd became “increasingly vocal and hostile” after the ref had to stop the game as a result of the altercation.

The match finished in a 1-1 draw and was the first home game for Gillingham after large-scale sporting events resumed following Covid restrictions.

Mr Edun said in a written statement: “I spoke to the opposition and colleagues about what had happened. I then had to continue playing after the incident which was difficult.

“The incident has had a large effect on me as I’m having to avoid interaction with the fans which just kills the game for me.”

Also in a written statement, Mr Bramall said: “I would like to add at the time this happened I was really angry. The incident really upset and disappointed me.

“I knew there would be an incident such as this today as the home fans were booing when we took the knee at the start of the game.”

Stewards ejected the defendant from the stadium after the incident said he appeared drunk, Mr Knox said.

The prosecutor adds that Mitchell is no stranger to a number of previous football-related convictions, including for being drunk at a sporting event in 2010 and a public order offence in 2008.

Avtar Dohil, defending, said the footballers running into the home stand had seemed like a “goading” gesture to “gauge a reaction” from fans.

“These are professional football players. It is a rule that no player should go past the boundary line,” she said.

Ms Dohil goes on to state that the Gills fan had told her he had only had “about three beers” before the game and “certainly was not drunk”.

However chair of the bench, Tina Richards, issued him with a football ban to prevent violence and disorder at future matches.

The ban means that Mitchell, of Arden Street, Gillingham, can’t attend all of the club’s home and away matches and all England national games in the UK for the next three years.

He was also fined £623 and ordered to pay £620 in costs.

Ms Richards said: “We are satisfied that a football banning order is required because you have been convicted of a football-related offence. The incident took place at a designated football match and the order will prevent you causing violence and disorder at future football matches.”

Gillingham manager Steve Evans said after the incident: “All I know is what the match referee told me, he had it reported to him by a Lincoln player that there was a racist comment made by a spectator and Michael repeated that.

“Michael didn’t hear it, I didn’t hear it, infact I thought someone must have run on the pitch and smacked him. Then the referee made us aware.

“As I said to our chairman, and he repeated it, it has no place in football. No place in Priestfield, it shouldn’t be in football.

“If it has been said then it should be dealt with appropriately.”

Twitter users reacted as a Gillingham fan learns of his punishment after ‘assaulting’ a Lincoln player…

@BQGillsFan: Exactly, he left the pitch and ran straight into the crowd, deliberately looking to cause a scene. Obviously racial abuse is unacceptable, cannot be condoned. But he went looking for trouble. Basically, he threw the first punch, then complained about being punched back. Let’s also not forget that in the altercation, one of his teammates punched a fan too.

@nathannjb_: Yeah this is what got me too. A small minority at every ground, at every game, will boo the knee. To twist facts to turn this incident into a racial one is very unfair on #Gills fans as a whole.

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