English soccer has come a long way since the days when fences ringed the field of play, but an incident in a lower league game Monday reminds us all that progress has a price tag attached to it.
Wycombe goalkeeper Jordan Archer was attacked by a fan near the end of his team’s win over Gillingham. It happened at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium during a League Two (fourth division) game.
It’s the kind of thing that could escape attention during normal times, but Sky Sports was broadcasting the game live to a national audience.
Archer, 19, was leaning down to put the ball on the ground when a fan ran onto the field, leaped in the air and bowled him over. Seconds later, stewards tackled the fan and dragged him away. Archer escaped injury.
The 17-year-old fan was arrested and charged with assault. He is out on bail, but he will answer the charges on March 12.
The incident was the second attack on a goalkeeper in recent months. Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was attacked by a Leeds United fan during a heated Championship (second division) game last October. Sky Sports was on hand to bear witness to that assault as well. The fan who attacked Kirkland was hit with a four-month jail sentence.
Few advocate bringing fences back to stadiums in England, as their removal helped refurbish the image of the English game. The attack on Archer shines a light on the issue of player safety, which authorities might take measures to address.
Watch the Gillingham fan attack Archer in the video below.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@justkeepers