Wednesday 23 May 2018

Mark Noble tackles pitch invader and Burnley players allow children to sit on the bench to escape chaos in the stands

West Ham United's Mark Noble clashes with a fan who has invaded the pitch Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
West Ham United's Mark Noble clashes with a fan who has invaded the pitch Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
West Ham United's Mark Noble clashes with a fan who has invaded the pitch
West Ham United's Mark Noble clashes with a fan who has invaded the pitch Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
West Ham United's Mark Noble clashes with a fan who has invaded the pitch as referee Lee Mason looks on Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
West Ham United's Mark Noble clashes with a fan who has invaded the pitch Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
West Ham United's Mark Noble clashes with a fan who has invaded the pitch Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Andy Sims

Tensions at West Ham reached boiling point during their 3-0 defeat at Burnley as some fans invaded the pitch while others vented their anger at the board.

A turbulent week off the pitch - which has seen fans cancel a planned protest march, and then turn against each other as a second demonstration was arranged and subsequently shelved - turned toxic at the London Stadium.

Ashley Barnes had just put Burnley ahead early in the second half when a fan ran into the middle of the pitch, left unchallenged until Hammers captain Mark Noble intervened and shoved him to the ground.

As that fan ran back towards the stands another two came on and were eventually led away by defender James Collins.

It was Burnley's second goal, scored by Chris Wood, which proved the final straw for hundreds of fans, who charged along the concourse between the tiers of the stadium they hate so much to gather underneath the directors' box to chant 'sack the board' and 'you destroyed our club'.

Joint-owners David Gold and David Sullivan, whose decision to uproot the club from its old Upton Park ground to the former Olympic Stadium is behind the anger, are understood to have left their seats for their own safety.

A fourth supporter, meanwhile, had picked up a corner flag, run to the centre-circle and planted it in the ground.

Police had to be positioned along the touchline and specifically around the West Ham bench, where more disturbances appeared to take place.

Wood helped himself to a third goal as West Ham appear to be imploding on and off the pitch.

Yet there was little sign of the chaos to come as the match kicked off. A smattering of supporters had trooped along the proposed protest route, while in the stadium the mood was more apathy than antipathy.

There was even a minutes' applause in memory of the 25th anniversary of the death of Bobby Moore, with a mosaic in the crowd bearing the great man's name and shirt number.

How things changed after a first half which West Ham had dominated, with Nick Pope making decent saves to deny Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini.

As the wheels began to come off the anger towards the board grew, and anarchy began to break out on the pitch and in the stands.

It was a dark day for the club and one which will no doubt have repercussions, both on and off the field.

West Ham manager David Moyes called for the club's fans to get behind the team after ugly scenes marred Saturday's 3-0 Premier League loss to Burnley.

Tensions reached boiling point at the London Stadium as some fans invaded the pitch while others vented their anger at the board.

"We want the supporters behind us, but you can't cross the line and come onto the pitch," Moyes told Sky Sports.

"I don't think I've been at football games in my time where I've seen that. All I'll say to all of them is that we need them. We're fighting for points. We're all in it. The players know we did well today for long periods. We didn't do so well for a couple of minutes in the second half. We needed the supporters with us in a different way.

"All I ask for is that everybody sticks together and we try to get ourselves enough points to make sure we're a Premier League team (next season)."

West Ham vowed to take "decisive and appropriate action" after completing a "full and thorough investigation" into the ugly scenes which marred this afternoon's 3-0 Premier League loss to Burnley.

Tensions reached boiling point at the London Stadium as some fans invaded the pitch while others vented their anger at the board.

A club statement read: "West Ham United have immediately launched a full and thorough investigation into the incidents which marred the second half of today's match and are committed to taking decisive and appropriate action.

"An emergency meeting has been called with all London Stadium stakeholders. There will be no further comment at this time."

Press Association

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