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News Archive > General > Deplorable: St Austell player confronts Newquay fan at local game

Deplorable: St Austell player confronts Newquay fan at local game

By Phil Bunt 21st October 2009

THIS is the moment a former captain of St Austell Football Club climbed into the stands and confronted a Newquay football fan in his seat.
Player Lee Whetter had been sent off just moments before he entered into the Poltair Park stand where a loyal bunch of supporters had been cheering on the Peppermints.
Shocked onlookers, including a woman cradling a newborn baby, tried to restrain the player, but not before he grappled with Newquay football club stalwart Mark ‘The Judge’ Charles. Current St Austell manager and former Newquay manager Andy Dingle was also involved in the fracas.
Newquay has demanded the County F.A. take action while St Austell’s caretaker manager has admitted that Whetter’s future with the club is likely to have come to an end.


THE wife of Newquay midfielder Paul Hampshire has spoken of how she felt ‘intimidated’ by the actions of St Austell’s Lee Whetter after he left the field of play at Poltair Park and stormed through the grandstand to confront a Newquay fan.
Lisa Hampshire was with her nine-week-old baby Ellie, having watched the whole match, when they were caught up in the incident. Several fellow Newquay fans eventually led the mother and daughter from the stand.
Standing just a few feet away from Whetter’s target, Mark ‘The Judge’ Charles, but well away from the pitch in the apparent safety of the grandstand, Lisa was one of the first spectators who Whetter stormed past in a ‘wild-eyed’ trek to reach the vocal Newquay fan Charles, whose outspoken comments on the on-line Cornish Soccer Forum have often courted controversy.
As Whetter passed within inches of her she raised a hand towards him to protect her baby but Whetter appeared to not notice the possible distress and danger he was causing.
Lisa, who has watched her husband, former Scottish professional Paul play since he moved to the Peppermints last season, said: “I’ve never seen anything like this.
“Our baby is only nine weeks old and has been to every match since she was born.
“I felt really intimidated when he came over, I just wanted to get myself and my baby out of there.
“He really shouldn’t be allowed to do a thing like this” she said.
Another Newquay fan, Linda Goldsmith, added: “I’ve never seen anything like this, it was ridiculous. I was more worried about the baby.”
As Whetter pounced on Charles, other spectators got involved in trying to pull him off and St Austell fans reacted to the chaos as well.
Host manager Andy Dingle, formerly a manager of the Peppermints, also came into the stand and at one point had to be restrained after an attack had occurred on another Newquay fan, Andrew Whitworth - leaving him with a cut to his face.
Andrew, who is a regular supporter of the club and sits on their management committee, said “I didn’t see who hit me - it was a sucker punch to the side of my head and I wasn’t able to react. If I’d seen it coming I could have done.
“The scenes were absolutely disgraceful and anyone who came into the stand and got involved should be banned - Full Stop.
“There is no place for this sort of thing at any level in football” he said.


ST AUSTELL’s Lee Whetter has publicly apologised for his actions on Saturday after he was sent off and went into the crowd to confront Newquay fans but Newquay’s coach, Alan Metters has indicated he hopes that authorities treat him ‘leniently’ with any ban imposed.
Speaking to the Voice a devastated Whetter said: “I want to apologise to everyone at the game, my actions were totally unacceptable.
“I want to apologise to everyone at Newquay, my actions were totally out of order.
“My emotions got on top of me, I don’t know what came over me, I am going to be writing to the FA as I was not in the right frame of mind.”
Newquay first team coach Alan Metters said “It was a massive shame that this happened.
“I hope that, whatever happens, Lee is given a lenient ban.
“I’ve known Lee for some time and this is not like him, although I really can’t justify his actions, emotions have to stay on the football field.”
Whetter’s manager, Andy Dingle, appeared to have anticipated something not being right with the player before the match having stripped him off his captain’s armband.
“His head hasn't been right for a couple of weeks and that's why he was relieved of his captaincy today. I'm going to consider all of my options over the next couple of days" he said.
“I treat this incident very seriously and at this moment in time I cannot see that Lee Whetter has a future with St Austell football club” concluded Dingle.
During the week prior to the game St Austell’s local rivals St Blazey had put in seven days notice to approach Whetter with a view to him joining the rival club just a few miles up the road.
However, although it is understood he was due to hold talks with the green and blacks at the end of the week, this meeting is now apparently out of the diary.
Enraged by his sending off Whetter took to the grandstand to confront the vocal Newquay support and after a melee had involved, players, officials and supporters of both clubs it was not until Newquay’s experienced defender Sam McKune had calmed the situation down that the remaining seconds of the game were allowed to play out.
Newquay manager Jim Hilton told the Voice “Our supporters are very vocal, we lost three times to St Austell last season and we and the fans wanted to put that right.
“We’re all passionate about football but sometimes people go over the mark and this is certainly the case today” he said, referring to Whetter’s outburst.
“It was a cracking game and a cracking win but sadly it will all go by the wayside.”
St Austell's caretaker manager Andy Dingle went on to add: “I thought it was a good entertaining game. Newquay are a good footballing side, we played really well and I think we conceded a couple of goals against the run  of play.
“It showed great spirit from the boys as we went from strength to strength, pulled the goals back and went into the lead at half-time.
"The start of the second half Newquay caught us cold. Mistakes by Ralphy (Bradley Ralph) cost us two goals.”
Following the game St Austell’s experienced centre-half Ralph announced on a Cornish football forum that he was calling an end to his association with the club.
In the light of the appaling scenes at Poltair Park on Saturday, Graham Drew, Chairman of Newquay Football Club made the following statement.
“We at the Club are deeply saddened that a fantastic game of football has been sullied by the regrettable actions of a few.
“Whilst I was not at the game it is very worrying to think that our supporters, some with young children, were seated in the grandstand when the fracas took place.
“The club always welcomes young children to Mount Wise and hopefully this isolated incident will not put them off from coming to future matches both home and away.
“I would like to place on record our praise and thanks to our management and players for the way they reacted and tried to calm the situation down. Hopefully the Peninsula League and the Cornwall County Football Association will deal with this deplorable matter in the appropriate manner.”
Mark Charles, aka ‘The Judge’, who was the target of Whetter’s outburst said that he would like to leave the matter in the hands of Newquay football club, the league and the football association and refused to make any further comment when asked if he would be making a complaint to the police.
However, he did also indicate that he was concerned for the welfare of his partner Jen who received an injury to her wrist during the incident.
St Austell FC released the following statement on Monday evening after an emergency board meeting to discuss the matter.
"Following the incidents that occurred during Saturday's match with Newquay the board of directors wish to announce that the player Lee Whetter has been suspended from playing for the club pending further investigation and reports from the CCFA," the statement said.
South West peninsula league secretary Phil Hiscox quashed any rumours of St Austell being kicked out of the league and said: “I have no knowledge of where any such rumour may have started, all I can say is that St Austell have been reported to Cornwall FA by the referee, the County FA will presumably instigate charges and once those are issued it will be up to those accused to respond to those charges.
“Stories of the club being "kicked out of the league" are rumours with no foundation whatsoever.
“That said we are of course concerned to read the reports and disappointed that such allegations take the gloss off the weekends full programme of league matches.”
Cornwall FA secretary Barry Cudmore told the Voice: “As you will appreciate until reports are received and the matter has been dealt with as laid down in The FA Memorandum of Disciplinary Procedures the County FA can make no comment.”
St Austell police inspector Stuart Gibbons said that no complaint had been made to them by any individual but that should they receive any relevant information they would make enquiries as appropriate.

By Phil Bunt 21st October 2009

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