Arrest as beautiful game turns nasty in St Albans

POLICE and the Herts Football Association are investigating an alleged assault on a St Albans footballer at the weekend which left a player with injuries to his head and face after being headbutted.

The Herts Advertiser Sunday League division two game between Three Hammers and Harpenden Arms Athletic was immediately abandoned just 20 minutes after the start of play as a result.

Three Hammers left midfielder Neil Yapp, aged 30, was also left with injuries to his nose following the incident in Napsbury.

He maintained that Harpenden Arms had started the game in an aggressive manner and appeared to have been incited by their manager.

The ball had been cleared to the other side of the pitch when Neil was approached by Harpenden defender Warren Plowright.


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Neil explained: “He basically ran his studs down the side of my leg so I pushed him off me and following that, he had a look round to make sure the referee and no players were in the vicinity or watching. He came at me and did a nice headbutt on my nose.”

With the surface of his nose bleeding from split skin, Neil signalled to the referee for his help. The police were then called and recommended he receive treatment at hospital.

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Neil, who runs a tree surgery business, has to wait another week before the swelling has subsided enough to have his nose stitched. And X-rays cannot be taken until the swelling has gone down to establish whether his nose is broken.

Neil also suffered dizziness and tiredness as a result of concussion, when his head was knocked back in the incident.

He said: “I have played football for a long time and you do get a lot of hostility but there is a line. It isn’t something that you want to experience. We play for enjoyment.”

Nick Perchard, chief executive officer of the Herts Football Association, said the organisation was aware of the alleged incident and was working closely with the police.

He added: “Under FA regulations when a player is charged with assault they are suspended from all football immediately until the case is concluded.”

Nick went on: “Where a player, official or spectator is proven to have committed any form of violent act they are given as firm a punishment as possible.

“Grassroots football is enjoyed by tens of thousands of individuals in Hertfordshire each week and fortunately violent incidents are very rare but as a collective everyone in football must work together to send the message that bad behaviour will not be tolerated and one incident is an incident too many.”

Action

Roy Scott, chief executive of the HA Sunday Football League, said that in his 50 years experience in Sunday football, it was the first time he had heard of the police being called to a match and a game abandoned following an alleged assault.

He added: “We will take our own action after whatever action the police and the FA takes, following the referee’s report.”

Roy confirmed that Warren could face a ban as a result.

A spokesman for Harpenden Arms Athletic said he was unable to comment on the incident while it was being investigated.

A spokeswoman for the Herts police confirmed that officers were called to an incident at a football game at Pegrum Way, Napsbury Park, at 10.10am on February 19.

She said a 20-year-old man of Harpenden was arrested on suspicion of assault, questioned and later released on police bail. He is to return to Hatfield police station on April 4.

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