A drunken football fan who ran on to the pitch during a bad-tempered cup final and knocked the referee unconscious has been jailed for 18 months.
Scott Prew, 23, marched onto the field of play during the Scarborough & District League Trophy Trader Cup Final between rivals Eastway and Goalsports FC.
With Prew’s team Eastway trailing 2-1 in the match at Pickering Town’s Mill Lane ground, tempers were boiling over in the 200-strong crowd.
Prew lost the plot when referee Bill Pashby, 63, sent off one of the Eastway players about 10 minutes before full-time, after earlier showing yellow cards to three other Eastway players.
Prew ran over to Mr Pashby and struck him a “forceful” blow with his elbow.
The blow struck Mr Pashby on the shoulder and he was knocked straight to the ground, leaving him temporarily unconscious.
The stricken ref, who suffered a dislocated shoulder and severe tendon damage, was stretchered off by match officials and taken to hospital. The cup final had to be abandoned with just eight minutes remaining.
Prew, of High Garth, Eastfield, was arrested on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm but initially claimed he had slipped and accidentally caught the referee with his elbow. But he later admitted ABH and appeared for sentence on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Austin Newman said throughout the “keenly-contested” match between the local rivals, Mr Pashby had to deal with many “on-field disputes”.
The atmosphere led to three Eastway players being yellow-carded in the first half for dirty tackles and dissent.
In the second half, things got even worse for Eastway when they had three players sent off.
“The dismissals were met with dismay by Eastway fans who became highly-agitated and hostile to Mr Pashby,” said Mr Newman.
The barrister said heavy drink among the supporters had exacerbated the febrile atmosphere.
“The drinking started at an early stage, as soon as the turnstiles opened, and no doubt influenced the passions (of fans),” he added.
“In about the 80th minute, Mr Pashby gave a further red card to an Eastway player for abusive language and that seemed to be the immediate trigger for this defendant, whose team were losing.
“He emerged from the crowd and ran onto the field of play. He had evidently been drinking because he was seen to discard a can of beer as he ran onto the pitch.”
Mr Pashby, who was noting down the name of the player he had just red-carded, had his back to Prew as he attacked him and didn’t see the blow coming.
“Mr Pashby fell awkwardly to the ground, temporarily lost consciousness and dislocated his shoulder. He described the pain to his shoulder as unbearable,” added Mr Newman.
A surgeon who treated Mr Pashby said it was likely that the semi-retired referee would be left with a permanent deformity around his shoulder blade and severe tendon damage.
Prew told police he had drunk about four or five pints of lager but claimed he wasn’t drunk.
Mr Pashby said he was still suffering pain seven months on from the incident on March 29, which had affected his quality of life. He had refereed since the attack but said abuse of football officials was becoming commonplace.
Linesman Alan Green said he had never seen “anything like it” in 35 years of officiating at football matches.
“The more and more drink that was consumed (by supporters), the more boisterous it became,” he added. “Then it turned nasty.”
He said Mr Pashby was subjected to foul-mouthed abuse from supporters, with Eastway fans shouting “cheat”.
Mr Newman said Prew had previous convictions for drink-related violence, threatening behaviour, criminal damage and breaching court orders.
Defence barrister Glen Parsons said Prew was “truly ashamed” of his moronic behaviour at the cup final.
Judge Paul Batty branded Prew’s attack on the referee “cowardly”, adding: “You attacked a man almost three times your age. Other match officials were utterly disgusted by your behaviour.”
Mr Batty added: “Football referees and officials do this valuable public service because of their love of the game and, for no recompense, they are helping the local community. It is utterly intolerable that drunks, as you were on this day, feel that they can take a pot shot at a referee with impunity.”
Prew will serve half of the 18-month sentence in jail before being released.