Fife football thugs invaded pitch at near-empty stadium

Lee Mullen
Lee Mullen

Football thugs carried out a pitch invasion during a youth match at the home of their local rivals – in front of just 35 fans.

A five-strong Raith Rovers ‘crew’ brought play to a halt at Cowdenbeath’s Central Park as bemused players looked on.

Lee Mullen and the small group of hooligans chose a youth development match to stage their bizarre invasion with a grand total of 40 fans in the stadium.

A Cowdenbeath club official thought the group were on their way to the toilets before they jumped on the stock car track around the pitch then entered the field of play.

Mullen (19) was singing and gesturing before the group left the pitch and quickly exited the stadium before police arrived.

Mullen, of Martin Crescent, admitted that on October 13 last year at Cowdenbeath Football Club, while acting with others, he engaged in behaviour likely to incite public disorder by entering the field of play, singing and gesturing.

Depute fiscal Dev Kapadia said, “The match had been going for 10 minutes when five of the Raith Rovers fans came down the stairs in the stand.

“One of the Cowdenbeath club directors saw them and thought they were going to the toilets but then saw they were on the stock car track and then on the pitch itself.

“He then saw the referee had stopped the match and he phoned the police.”

The five pitch invaders then left the stadium and on their way out were told not to come back and that the police were on their way.

“The match was re-started and it would appear that the presence on the pitch of the group had resulted in some anti-social behaviour,” the depute continued.

“There was a photographer present on the opposite side of the pitch and when he saw what was happening he took a number of photographs from which the accused was later identified.

“He was also seen gesturing and singing when he was on the pitch.”

Defence solicitor Alistair Burleigh said his client currently had two football banning orders in place, the latter imposed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in September. He added that Mullen had also recently served a four-month youth detention sentence.

Sheriff Charles Macnair told Mullen, “It appears from these reports that you have a problem at football matches. I take into account this was at a youth development game and the number of spectators was very limited.

“On the other hand that meant there was less excuse for this and these were young people playing football. Your behaviour would have spoiled their game apart from anything else.”

The sheriff imposed a restriction of liberty order for 162 days. He said that it would be “pointless” to add another football banning order to the two already running.

In April, Mullen had a two-year football banning order imposed at Dunfermline Sheriff Court following trouble at The Elizabethan Bar on the day of a Dunfermline-Raith Rovers match in July 2014.

He admitted that whilst acting with others he engaged in behaviour likely to incite public disorder by engaging in a fight on his way from the match.