Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira clashed with an Everton fan while there was another confrontation in League Two as English football was once again marred by pitch invasions on Thursday night.
The incidents came as supporters broke onto the pitch in Everton’s comeback win over Palace that secured them Premier League survival, and Port Vale’s League Two play-off victory against Swindon.
Everton achieved top-flight safety having come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, while Vale will be heading to Wembley to face Mansfield for a place in League One.
Sadly though, both matches were tarnished by confrontations between professionals on pitch and invading supporters in scenes that are quickly becoming all too common.
Palace boss Vieira was taunted by an Everton fan who had entered the pitch following full-time and reacted by kicking out.
The former Arsenal and France star then appeared to be shoved by another Everton fan before others stepped in to ensure he could leave the pitch safely.
Vieira did not comment on the incident, which came to light after his post-match press conference, but Everton counterpart Frank Lampard offered his support.
“I feel for Patrick. I didn’t get him at the end. I would have said, ‘come in with us’ – although he might not have wanted that,” he said.
“Of course he ran 80 yards across the pitch and it’s not easy.”
Over at Port Vale, meanwhile, Swindon players were attacked on the pitch after they were beaten on penalties.
“That is dangerous, that is so dangerous,” said Swindon boss Ben Garner. Players have been hit, players have been kicked, players have been spat at, players have been verbally abused.
“It’s just not on. Fans think they can come on and they can have a free hit and a free pop and no one player can react to it. If you did that on the street you’d end up in a tear up.
“I just don’t understand it, I just don’t know where this is coming from. I’ve seen it in some of the other games recently. Disgusting. It’s disgusting.”
It followed sickening scenes earlier in the week in the Football League.
A Nottingham Forest fan was jailed for headbutting Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp during an invasion in the Championship play-offs, and a Mansfield player was then attacked by an on-pitch supporter away at Northampton.
talkSPORT host Dean Saunders was disturbed by what he’d seen, and expressed his concern that things are only going to get worse.
“Someone’s going to get stabbed next. Something bad, really bad,” Saunders said on The Sports Bar.
“Patrick Vieira’s going to get in trouble for what he’s done. I’m not making excuses for him, he’s just lost a game in which his side were 2-0 up and lost 3-2 and then he walks on the pitch and has got someone in his face and he reacts. He reacts the wrong way because he’s raging inside.
“If I was a player I wouldn’t feel safe. You should feel safe when you run on a football pitch.”
Earlier, talkSPORT host Darren Ambrose explained how he was left ‘dodging punches’ during a pitch invasion while playing for Crystal Palace.
Ambrose scored the goal that kept his side in the second tier back in 2010 as they secured a 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, who needed a win to leapfrog the Eagles and survive.
Ambrose and his teammates went to celebrate with the travelling fans at full-time, but then all hell broke loose.
He recalled: “We’re celebrating, they’re singing and cheering, I turned to the right and obviously all the Sheffield Wednesday lot had come onto the pitch.
“I see a lady, she was laying on the floor where she’d obviously just been attacked. This is all public knowledge, this went to police inquiries and everything at the end of the season.
“Dougie Freedman was running around saying ‘get in,’ and I was dodging punches basically.
“It got to a point where it was passionate to ‘this is dangerous now’ there’s a point where this got dangerous and we were like ‘right, let’s go’.”
Ambrose then revealed a moment that scared the life out of him, and could have ended terribly, much like a number of events this week.
“As we’re heading in, the media got me and Shaun Derry and said because I’d scored the goal that kept us in the division we’d have a quick interview and I remember it clearly,” Ambrose added.
“If you find the footage you can hear the guy as he comes, so I’m halfway through talking and all I see is Dougie Freedman come and basically rugby tackle me and Shaun Derry down the tunnel.
“A guy comes on to clean me out basically, to punch me, but obviously didn’t happen.
“It gets frightening actually because you think like we’re just in a game, we’re delighted, we want to celebrate with supporters, but then it gets dangerous. They’re not new pitch invasions but that’s what it’s come to now.”