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Friday Cannon Fodder: pitch invasions

Everton v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Everton’s dramatic comeback yesterday (from 2-0 down to a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace) to guarantee Premier League safety after a disappointing, under-performing, harrowing season was marred by a pitch invasion. Dozens, if not hundreds, of supporters ran onto the pitch in celebration before Crystal Palace’s players and staff had a chance to get to the locker room.

Some of the supporters just ran around like idiots celebrating. Others went to confront opposing players and coaches, as in the videos below. As you can see, Patrick Vieira, after trying to walk off the pitch and ignore a supporter getting in his face, retaliating by kicking a guy’s legs out from under him.

CW: there is some colorful language in this second video.

This is a dangerous situation that never should have happened. It’s a massive failure on Everton’s part to ensure the safety of the players and staff from the opposing team, and more generally, to keep fans off the pitch.

I’m incredibly disappointing that Frank Lampard’s take was that he’s mostly fine with fans rushing the pitch. “If it is done in the right way let them stay on the pitch, let them have their moment. As long as they behave, no problem,” Lampard said.

The problem is that, as we can see, the fans didn’t behave. This is the third incident in the last week of supporters rushing the field and accosting players / managers. On Tuesday, a Nottingham Forest supporter head-butted Sheffield United’s captain Billy Sharp. On Thursday, Port Vale supporters rushed the pitch and “physically and verbally” abused Swindon players according to manager Ben Garner.

Mikel Arteta had a much more reasonable take, “We have to stop it. We have to minimise the risk and exposure of staff in this situation. You cannot control it and when there’s so many people involved in any event it becomes dangerous - & we have to do something about it.”

As Mikel said, you cannot control it. Sure, the majority of the people are expressing that spontaneous joy created by a magical moment from their club. That outburst of happiness is good! I encourage it! But not by rushing the field and creating dangerous situations. You are always going to have a few idiots who screw it up, who do stupid things like getting in the face of opposing players and taunting opposing managers. It cannot happen.

Patrick Vieira is facing an FA investigation into his conduct. They should absolve him of all wrongdoing. They won’t, but they should. If they do feel compelled to discipline him, it should be a fine and nothing more. He never should have been in that situation to begin with. That failing is Everton’s for not controlling their supporters and the FA’s for not having stricter policies in place to discourage pitch invasions in the first place.

Now that we’ve got the serious part out of the way (and because it’s Friday), let’s lighten the mood with some jokes about the scene.

First of all, how are you going to call yourself a football fan and step to Patrick Vieira? Did you not watch him against Manchester United (and the rest of the Premier League) for all those years? That is NOT the dude you want to mess with. You should know how he’s going to respond.

And if you don’t know football and don’t know Vieira’s reputation, it really shouldn’t matter. Why are you, some scrawny, soft supporter, getting in the face of a 6’4, clearly fit man? How do you think that’s going to go for you? The level of stupidity is impressive.

To quote that great poet, Lil Jon, “don’t start no sh*t, won’t be no sh*t.”

To quote another poet, Jamie Vardy, “chat sh*t, get banged.”

Here’s another piece of wisdom that dude (and we all) should keep in mind, “f*ck around, find out.”

What a moron. He, and everybody at Everton, are lucky that was the worst of it and that nobody got seriously injured. Kudos to the supporters in the first video who you can clearly see deescalate the situation, getting in between everyone, and helping escort Vieira off the pitch. Especially the dude who did it with his small child on his shoulders. What a legend.