Stools, tables and glasses were thrown into a Blackpool pub as chaotic scenes broke out between rival football fans.
Regulars watched in disbelief as Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers fans began brawling at the Ardwick pub. According to the owner, a regular who has a learning disability was stunned amidst the crossfire and had to be dragged to safety.
Four men were arraigned at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday June 22 for their role in the public disorder which broke out ahead of a match between the two North West sides on February 2, 2020. Others involved in the scuffle have yet to know their fate. .
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The court heard that Bolton supporter Ashley Stott had traveled to Blackpool and was sitting with other Bolton fans at a table inside the pub when Blackpool supporters including Darren Jennings, Graham Clarke and Dale Gregory, entered the building. Rivals fans were seated on either side of the pub, but at one point something was said to Stott which angered him and sparked chaos.
It was Blackpool fans who started the mess, recorder Jodie Woodhead said, describing CCTV footage in which Gregory “can be seen picking up a bar stool, approaching Bolton supporters and throw it to them”. She continued: “Graham Clarke then picks up a stool and throws it at the Bolton fans. Their response is to throw stools and tables and what appear to be glasses. There then appears to be hand to hand fighting where we can see punches and kicks being thrown.
“Ashley Stott can be seen throwing an empty glass at the Blackpool fans. Dale Gregory charges towards the Bolton group and is embroiled in a fight with Ashley Scott, both wearing saddles at the time. Graham Clarke enters then, following him is Jennings, he can be seen throwing two punches towards the group.
Other members of the public were present at the bar, including elderly and visibly distressed patrons. Owner Kevin Anthony reported that a regular with a learning disability had to be moved from the stage to avoid physical harm.
Stott was also convicted of a separate incident in December 2019 before a game between Bolton and Shrewsbury Town which involved “a significant number of supporters of both teams involved in significant disturbance in the town centre”. However, Recorder Woodhead noted that his involvement and violence in this incident was far less than the others present.
At sentencing, she said: “There is no evidence that the defendants went there for that purpose and from the evidence presented in court it seems likely that something unrelated was said. with the football that was the trigger for the incident.” Recorder Woodhead decided not to issue football restraining orders against Jennings, Clarke and Gregory, noting that they have all continued to attend games since then without further issue. However, she delivered such an order to Stott for his repeated involvement in the mess around football games.
Jennings, 51, and of Dawlish Court, Blackpool, earlier admitted a public order offense and was given a 14-week sentence suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to perform 150 hours of unpaid work and 10 days of rehabilitation activity (RAR).
Gregory, 49, and of Rosemary Place, Preston, pleaded guilty to affray and received an eight-month sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also sentenced to perform 150 hours of unpaid work and 15 RAR days.
Clarke, 34, and of Everest Close, Lytham St Annes, pleaded guilty to affray and received an eight-month sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also given an email tag to enforce an eight-week curfew that requires him to stay home between 8 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.
Stott, 33, and of Coniston Avenue, Manchester, admitted two public order offenses and was given a total sentence of 56 weeks suspended for 18 months. He must also complete 100 hours of unpaid work and 38 RAR days.