A grandad from Mansfield has been spared a Football Banning Order despite invading the pitch at the end of a derby match between Nottingham Forest and Derby County
John Poznanski, aged 59, was spared the order – despite being drunk and testing positive for cocaine after his arrest – after magistrates heard he had been a loyal Forest supporter for 43 years and had never been in any football-related trouble before.
The retired miner, of Ferndale, admitted unlawfully going on to the playing area at Forest’s City Ground and of being drunk at a designated sporting event when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.
The match, which was broadcast live on television on the evening of Friday, November 6, was marred by Forest fans invading the pitch after the final whistle following their side’s 1-0 victory.
Kate Hartley, prosecuting, told the court the game had been assessed by the police as “having high-risk potential for public disorder”.
She said: “The atmosphere was lively and strained, with fans of the two clubs shouting at each other at the Bridgford End of the ground, and, when Forest scored, officers had to hold back Forest fans.
“At the end, many supporters rushed forward and went on to the pitch. A flare was ignited, and there was a real possibility of large-scale disorder.”
Mrs Hartley said Poznanski was spotted by a police officer being restrained by groundstaff.
She said: “He was carrying a plastic bottle of lager, lashing out with his arms and refusing to move.
“He was unsteady on his feet and his breath smelled of alcohol. When taken into custody, he tested positive for cocaine.”
Mrs Hartley urged the magistrates to impose a banning order on Poznanski, preventing him from attending future Forest matches, because it was what fans feared most as a deterrent to violence and disorder.
However Louise Wright, mitigating for Poznanski, successfully argued a ban would be “disproportionate and wholly unreasonable” in this case.
She said: “It would be a shame for the club to lose a supporter who has shown such loyalty over 43 years.”
The court heard Poznanski’s first match had been Forest’s FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium in 1968 and he had since watched about 1,200 games, including the European Cup final triumphs in Munich and Madrid.
He was a season-ticket holder and followed the club, home and away, with his sons, who had been Forest mascots in their younger days, and grandchildren.
Miss Wright said: “He went to this match with his two sons and one of his son’s future fathers-in-law. It was a family day, and an excitable game.
“Tensions were high and nerves were on edge. After Forest had won, Poznanski’s spirits were high. He has never been involved in violence at football.
“He accepts he had alcohol with him, but said it was only his fourth drink of the day.
“He went on to the very corner of the pitch and thought he was joining in to celebrate with supporters and players. He wasn’t being antagonistic and didn’t anticipate any problems.
“When approached by police, he was confused and thought he was being implicated in something, therefore he remonstrated.”
Sentencing, Keith Hollingworth, presiding magistrate, told Poznanski he would not give him a banning order “because of the mitigation presented in regard to your good character”.
Poznanski was given a three-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £15.