Pensioner fined over repulsive racist abuse during Diamonds draw

He shouted the abuse at an opposition player

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 12:31 pm
Luke Fairlamb in action for Diamonds against Barwell. Credit: HawkinsImages

A pensioner shouted vile racist abuse towards a black player at an AFC Rushden & Diamonds match after becoming frustrated by refereeing decisions.

Clive Williams, 69, made the derogatory reference to Barwell's Kai Williams when the Leicestershire side visited Hayden Road on September 26 last year.

He then ejected himself from the stadium after fellow supporters told him to get out before apologising for his repulsive remark.

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Today at Northampton Magistrates' Court he was fined £1,136 after admitting racially aggravated public order.

The court heard Williams, of Sandy Close in Wellingborough, was on the left side of the stadium when Diamonds winger Luke Fairlamb lined up to take a free-kick with about 15 minutes to go and Diamonds trailing 1-0.

But before the free-kick was taken Fairlamb reacted to a comment he had heard. That comment was made by the pensioner, who shouted a derogatory reference about Black Lives Matter towards Kai Williams.

Prosecutor Neil Hollett said the pensioner was also accused of calling the Barwell player a "******* dirty little tramp", which he denied.

Referee Richard Eley halted the game and the incident was later reported to the police, who took a number of statements as part of their investigation.

Williams left the stadium after other spectators told him to go and gave his details to stewards before a "full and frank" admission when interviewed by officers.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds will now go through its internal process before making a statement on his ban from the club.

Mr Hollett said the Barwell player had said the incident affected him mentally and emotionally, as well as affecting his performance during the remainder of the match, which ended 1-1.

The court heard he felt the pensioner should be made an example of.

Mr Hollett said: "He feels sad that in this day and age someone could be subjected to racial abuse."

Mitigating, Laura Illingworth said retired Williams had spent many years watching non-League football without any similar incidents.

She said: "He was frustrated by some decisions that were being made, or not being made, by the referee and some of the behaviour by the players he found unacceptable...he accepts that his language was repulsive.

"As soon as the words left his mouth he was remorseful...he immediately regretted them."

She added that his actions were very out of character and that he was "not a racist man" who let his frustrations out of his mouth before he engaged his brain.

She said: "He has been to a million and one football matches and he has never uttered words like this before.

"He will not utter them again."

Chairman of the bench Stephen McClymont told Williams his guilty plea and remorse had brought the sentence down from what would have been a community order to a fine.

The pensioner was fined £1,136 and told he would have to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £114.

A statement released by AFC Rushden & Diamonds the day after the match said: "Racist abuse, or discrimination of any kind, is not acceptable and will not be tolerated at Hayden Road.

"AFC Rushden & Diamonds is a community football club and as such we pride ourselves on the tolerant, welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere created by our supporters and their good conduct both home and away.

"Any behaviour which falls below the high standards we set ourselves will be dealt with quickly and firmly and supporters whose behaviour brings the club into disrepute will be banned from attending matches."