An Accrington Stanley fan has vowed to appeal after becoming the first fan of the club to receive a football banning order.
Jason Graham, a leading member of the Accrington Stanley Ultras supporters group, has been told by magistrates he will not be able to attend the club’s home or away games for three years.
It came after he pleaded guilty at Blackburn magistrates court to obstructing a police officer and police assault following an incident during the club’s Carling Cup tie against Newcastle in August.
He was also ordered to carry out 40 hours unpaid community work.
Mr Graham, said he was ‘gutted’ by the decision.
Stanley manager John Coleman said: "It’s sickening for Jason as he has the club’s best interests at heart and has followed us through thick and thin. Three years is a long ban."
Chief executive Rob Heys said the club would look at ways it could support Mr Graham, who is to launch an appeal against the sentence.
After the hearing, Mr Graham said that the incident happened when an 18-year-old member of the Ultras was arrested for throwing a till roll. The 37-year-old of Avenue Parade, Accrington said: "The lad didn’t deserve to be arrested and I didn’t want to be the one to have to go and tell his mum he was in the police cells.
"I have to accept that in trying to help him I resisted the officer and a technical assault was committed. I can’t accept that what I did merits the imposition of a
banning order and I will be appealing that decision."
Magistrates had imposed the order despite his previous good record.
Mr Graham said: "The Ultras are Stanley through and through and we have the full support of the manager and directors of the club.
"We actively encourage youngsters to get involved in supporting the team in a positive way and we have no involvement in thuggery.
"I always thought banning orders were for yobs, not for people who actually work hard to promote the proper support of the club."
He added: "I’ve done 10 years supporting Stanley, home and away.
"We’ve always tried to keep the terraces as hooligan-free as we can.
"If we had an old school hooliganism problem at Stanley I’d understand it, but we don’t.
"The Ultras are so far removed from hooligans.
"I’ve won fan of the year, I’ve supported the charity work we’ve done, I’ve been a constant supporter of the club through the bad times.
"I just need the support of the club."
Fellow Ultra Rob Russell said: "At the Newcastle game he’d spent three days before the game making a huge flag that said Bobby Robson RIP on it and the Newcastle fans gave him a standing ovation.
"He’s even made flags for other teams. He organises supporters matches every week.
"Someone who goes to those lengths isn’t a football hooligan. They’ve got it completely wrong."
Accrington Stanley chief executive Rob Heys said the club was disappointed with the banning order and would be looking to support Mr Graham.
He said: "We’re disappointed to have got a banning order, it’s the first one in our history.
"In terms of the offences, the club can’t condone anything like that.
"It’s really important to make the point that the club condemns his behaviour at the game.
"Whether he should have received a banning order is open to debate.
"We’ll certainly be looking to do our bit to support Jason.
"If there’s anything we can do to help resolve the situation we will do it.
"We pride ourselves on being a family club and a safe place to watch football. "