By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Springvale City has claimed several of its players were injured during a wild fan invasion and brawls in a clash with Sandown Lions at Noble Park on 2 August.
In wild scenes, about 50 spectators invaded the arena when players lashed out after a foul tackle during the State League 4 match between the Ross Reserve co-tenants.
The incident is under investigation by Football Victoria.
A Springvale City spokesperson ‘Harry’ has publicly called for a club suspension against Sandown Lions.
“It’s happened before. Sandown has been kicked out prior to this – I honestly believe they should be out for two or three years.
“You can’t have people going to soccer and parents wondering if they’ll be coming back tonight or going to hospital.”
A Lions official meanwhile blamed a rogue number of “Sudanese youth” who had poured into the ground, fresh from a street brawl on Corrigan and Lightwood roads.
During the riot, a Springvale City senior player had his front teeth knocked out requiring $6000 of dental surgery, Harry said. The victim had also filed a complaint to police.
Three players were allegedly coward-punched to the back of their heads, including one knocked out cold, he said.
Its goal-keeper reportedly suffered a sliced knee, and a player – a former Sandown Lion – was struck by a projectile to the head.
Springvale City say the projectile was a rock, a Lions member claimed it was a phone.
Harry denied that one of his players king-hit a Lions marshall – an event that the Lions say sparked the crowd invasion.
“We don’t feel at fault at all,” Harry said – claiming City’s version of events was backed by three referee reports.
Sandown Lions committee member Syemun El-Nenny said he’d filmed a City player who struck and felled a Lions marshall on the pitch.
This incited the crowd to run on the ground to chase the player, he said.
Mr El-Nemmy partly blamed a lack of marshalls to control the crowd, the rogue “Sudanese youth” as well as the media who later “escalated” the incident.
“Football Victoria definitely needs to work on the marshalls and the safety of players and everyone, especially in the lower leagues.
“Supporters are supporters. You get that in the AFL – in any sport, the crowd is going to be an issue.
“It’s more to do with the federation than with the clubs.”
One thing both sides agree on is that the clubs and players had always got along well prior to the 2 August game.
Both are also opposed to Greater Dandenong councillor Tim Dark’s call for a ban on both clubs from council reserves, pending Football Victoria’s investigation.
“If they act before the investigation is completed and the result is that one team was not at fault – it will look bad for the council,” Harry said.
Football Victoria chief executive Peter Filopoulos said FV had “zero tolerance” for anti-social conduct at matches.
“We are always concerned to hear of any allegations raised and treat misconduct matters very seriously.
“FV is committed to ensuring that community football matches uphold community standards and provide a safe and family-friendly environment, which allows players, officials and spectators to enjoy and respect the game.”