Saturday 18 November 2017

Police hunt West Brom fan who hit Brunt with coin

West Brom's Chris Brunt reacts after a coin is thrown at him from the crowd. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters.
West Brom's Chris Brunt reacts after a coin is thrown at him from the crowd. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters.

Nick Mashiter

Police have revealed that in addition to the coin that hit West Bromwich Albion midfielder Chris Brunt immediately after his side's FA Cup defeat at Reading, a bottle was thrown from the crowd in the direction of home players in the second half of the fifth-round tie.

Both the English FA and Thames Valley Police are investigating the coin incident - the police viewing it as assault - as well as further crowd disturbances in the Albion end of the ground.

The supporter who allegedly threw the coin has been identified by stewards in a picture that has now been passed to police, and if found guilty, will be banned for life by West Brom.

The police plan to speak to Brunt as part of their investigations into "a number of incidents" in the aftermath of the game.

The Northern Ireland international was struck by a coin thrown from the end of the Madejski Stadium housing West Brom fans.

He had gone over to applaud the visiting supporters despite the team's embarrassing 3-1 loss but went down clutching his face as he approached the stand.

He suffered a cut under his left eye, and his manager Tony Pulis said he could have been blinded.

"A lad who has played over 300 games for this club could have had his eye out," said the manager. "He has a cut and it's an inch away from striking him in his eye; if that happens we're talking (about) a very, very serious problem.

"It's barbaric. That's not acceptable. West Brom is a fantastic football club, a famous club, but you can't condone that.

"The police have to get involved in this. That's criminal, and I mean criminal. This has got to be one of the worst things I have seen, for Chris to have a coin thrown at him from his own supporters having been at the club for such a long time.

"Every decent supporter of the club will be absolutely devastated it has happened to their football club.

"It's the way the game is going. Social media and everything else builds up an anti-feeling if things are not going well at football clubs. We have to be very careful with it."

Brunt did hand his shirt over to a supporter after gesturing and remonstrating with another group who had made their way to the front of the stand as he moved closer to apologise for Albion's exit.

"I've still got the 50p," the 31-year-old said. "I spotted a little girl in the front row and wanted to give her my shirt.

"Obviously there's some people in the front who were angry, understandably, because we didn't play well or get the result we wanted.

"But there's absolutely no excuse for that and no place for it in football. I've been here a long time. We all get our fair share of stick, but to be hit with a coin by your own fans is absolutely disgusting.

"The guy who threw it knows who he is and knows all this week where I'll be, and next Saturday if he wants to come and have a word about it that's not a problem - I'll meet him wherever he wants.

"I've been here a long time and I've loved my time here and that's the first time I've been ashamed of our supporters.

"A small minority ruined it for the rest of the 4,000 who were there and paid good money for a day trip."

Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster took to Twitter to label the coin-thrower a "disgrace".

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