Oldham Athletic was playing a match against Rochdale AFC Tuesday when the referee signaled a penalty for Rochdale after a trip in the box. One Oldham fan did what any sensible person would in that situation: He ran onto the pitch and tried to tackle the referee.
Referee Peter Bankes sidestepped the man, who was then tackled by Oldham defender Anthony Gerrard—the man whose foul led to the penalty. As several U.K. publications reported breathlessly, Anthony is the cousin of former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. (Meanwhile, the Daily Mail got former ref Graham Poll to write a scorching take which blamed yesterday’s pitch invasion on Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was red-carded for dissent in a Champions League match last week. Buffon later said the ref had a “bag of rubbish for a heart.”)
The Telegraph said the 27-year-old invader was charged with pitch encroachment, possession of class A drugs and using threatening words or behavior (well, “behaviour”). “For any fan to come onto the pitch is not right,” Oldham manager Richie Wellens said. “There are loads of fans here who were brilliant and behaved.”
Indeed. And what those fans saw after the pitch invasion lifted their spirits: Goalkeeper Johny Placide saved Joe Rafferty’s penalty, and the game ended in a goalless draw.