TWO Crystal Palace fans have been banned from going to football matches for three years after they ran on to the pitch to celebrate a goal during the 3-3 draw with Liverpool last month. Liam Field, 18, of Homestead Way in New Addington, and Jack Brown, 19, of Fieldend Road, Streatham, were "caught up in the heat of the moment" when they climbed the barriers at Selhurst Park to congratulate the players after Dwight Gayle's goal in the 81st minute on May 5. But the pair, who were sitting in separate stands and acting independently, were swiftly brought back down to earth when they were told to get off by the footballers, marched off the field by stewards and arrested. At Croydon Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, they both pleaded guilty to "going onto the playing area at a football match" – an offence under the Football (Offences ) Act 1991 – and must each pay £320 in fines and costs. Their lawyers argued that the men were not violent or disorderly, but District Judge Sweet, granting the banning order applied for by the police, said walking onto the pitch was "very serious". Speaking after the hearing, Field's mother, Gaynor Fossey, said she thought the banning order was "heavy-handed", adding of the convicted pair: "If that's the worst thing they are going to do in [their] lives, then good luck to them." Field told the Advertiser he would "just have to do something else" for the next three years, adding: "It is how it is, it's just one of those things. I blame no one else for doing it apart from myself." The court heard how Palace were losing 3-1 with ten minutes left when Gayle scored, prompting Brown, a season-ticket holder, to climb the barriers of the Arthur Wait stand. Field entered the pitch from the Holmesdale Road stand, where he had been sitting. Liverpool fans "started throwing things" as Brown was being taken away, the court was told. Prosecuting, Les Rowley said that in police interviews the men "accepted what they had done was wrong but stated they just got caught up in the heat of the moment". Both pleaded guilty at the first opportunity in court. Defending Brown, Alison Gurden said her client was on his way to get a drink when the team scored and he "just got caught up in the moment; he was literally right by the barrier … he accepts he was stupid". She later added he was "not a football hooligan, by any means". Defending Field, Sanchia Wheeler said her client's actions were "simply to celebrate the fact that his team had scored" adding he was "not someone who was a violent person". Both argued there was no need for the banning order as there was no evidence to suggest their clients would create any nuisance in future. But Judge Sweet told the pair: "Both of you clearly enjoy going to watch football, and I am not a football fan but I know that people get very emotive about these things. "Running onto the pitch is very serious; I don't have to explain to you the reasons why. "You know the effect it can have, indeed it had an effect on the Liverpool fans, from the papers that I have read. "I am therefore satisfied that a banning order should be made."
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