Men between sticks are often first to come under fire in fan attacks

GOALKEEPERS often find themselves first in the line of fire for pitch invaders, and Hibernian’s Graham Stack and Peter Enckelman of St Johnstone both know what it’s like to be confronted by mindless hooligans who have entered the field of play.

Stack found himself face-to-face with two would-be assailants in November 2002 while he was on loan from Arsenal to Belgian side Beveren.

His side had just gone 3-1 up against Antwerp, when rival fans managed to burst open a gate and confront the keeper in his 18-yard box. Stack defended himself by knocking one of the thugs to the ground, earning himself hero status among Beveren supporters, with footage of the incident still a youtube favourite. Stack said at the time: “It was a really hostile environment. The fans were going nuts, all crammed in behind my goal. For an entire half I was pelted with coins and lighters and anything else they could get their hands on.

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“We had just gone 3-1 ahead and, out of nowhere, I saw all these fans running at me. One bloke approached me and I told him to get off the pitch. I had to push him away from me for my own protection. Then I could see someone else running at me and it was obvious he was not going to stop. I swung at him out of self-defence.

“I didn’t hit him that hard but he must have been drinking because he went straight to the floor. Thankfully, the game was ended at that point and we were all taken off the pitch.”

A derby-day fixture, also in 2002, saw Enckelman targeted by rival fans. The Finn had just conceded a bizarre goal from a throw-in while playing for Aston Villa against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s when a Blues fan ran on to the pitch and made an offensive gesture in Enckelman’s face.

The 26-year-old was later jailed for four months and banned from attending football matches for six years, while Enckelman was praised for the composure he had shown and not retaliating in the face of severe provocation.

One of the most infamous incidents involving a goalkeeper being attacked in Scotland was when international Jim Leighton was assaulted by a Motherwell supporter at Fir Park while playing for Aberdeen in 1997. Leighton had been celebrating an injury-time winner for the Dons when a 29-year-old Motherwell fan lunged at him. The aggressor was jailed for three months and banned for life by the club.

Andy Goram was attacked by a fan at his former club Hibernian in 1996 when he returned to Easter Road with Rangers. The culprit was jailed for a year.

In 1994, a Dundee supporter was fined £750 for throwing a punch at Clydebank goalkeeper Allan Monaghan and knocking him to the ground, after the Dens Park side had scored a late equaliser at Kilbowie Park.

In April of this year a 14-year-old Chesterfield supporter became one of the youngest ever to receive a football banning order when he admitted punching Bury goalkeeper Cameron Belford at a League Two match.