City fan who invaded Etihad pitch in ‘moment of madness and pure elation’ after Blues went 3-2 up in title decider ends up in court
A Manchester City fan who invaded the pitch at the Etihad during the Blues’ title decider on the final day of the Premier League season has been hauled before a court. Paul Colbridge, 37, charged onto the pitch in a ‘moment of pure elation’ after the Blues went 3-2 up against Aston Villa on May 22.
He ‘taunted’ opposition players and fans, before slipping and falling and being caught by stewards. Colbridge, from Salford, has now been barred from attending football matches for four years.
Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard mobile phone footage taken by a police officer showed Colbridge turn to face Villa supporters before goading them. He then ran towards one of the penalty boxes, slipped and fell.
Prosecuting, Nick Smart said the match – in which City clinched the title – was of ‘high risk to public safety’. Kick off was at 4pm. The Blues went 3-2 up at 81 minutes.
“At that point they were going to be champions,” Mr Smart said. “There were sporadic outbursts of behaviour from supporters during the fixture, including flares being set off and missiles being thrown.
“During the course of that, footage showed this gentleman entering the pitch in celebration of the goal.
“It is the Crown’s case that he approached the Aston Villa goalkeeper, taunts him and faces the supporters and taunts them in a way of provoking them with action. He then ran towards the 18 yard box, slipped, fell on the floor and the stewards ran to detain him.”
Colbridge was arrested and admitted the offence of going onto a playing area at a football match. He told officers he ‘shouldn’t have done it’. Mr Smart said that following the reintroduction of supporters into stadiums, police have seen a ‘dramatic increase’ in violent disorder and anti-social behaviour across the country.
“It has become a regular occurrence, and supporters remain adverse to the impact this sort of behaviour has. It encourages others to behave in a similar fashion,” he added.
“When supporters enter this area, there is not only a threat to the players, but the stewards on the pitch and it antagonises both the home and away supporters who want to watch the game. Everybody is keen to nip this in the bud so this doesn’t keep on occurring.”
Colbridge has a previous conviction from 2006 relating to driving with excess alcohol. Speaking from the dock, Colbridge said: “It was a stupid act and something I regretted immediately. To me, it was fuelled by alcohol.
“It was a moment of madness, pure elation, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I regretted it immediately. I sought out somebody from the club and sent an email apologising to the club, I apologised in the City forum. It’s affected my children and my partner as well.
“These actions were fully my responsibility. It was pure elation – I’m a very passionate person. I have been going to City for 20 years, I am a season ticket holder, and I have never been in trouble before, I’ve never been on the pitch before. I can’t explain what was going through my mind at that moment.”
Sentencing, JP Wallace Johnson said: “We have heard the prosecution talk about a dramatic increase in disorder at football matches, also increases in antagonism on both sides at football matches, and we have heard from you that you were in a state of alcohol at the time. That does make things worse.
“What you did was deliberate and flagrant action, you deliberately targeted Aston Villa players that day on the pitch, and caused distress not just to the players, but the stewards, the fans and those watching at home.”
Colbridge, of Whitegate Drive, was fined £646, as was ordered to pay £64 victim surcharge and £85 court costs. He was also made subject of a football banning order for four years.