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Monday, February 16, 1998 Published at 17:40 GMT


Sheffield United fan admits attack on linesman
image: [ Linesman Edward Martin was stretchered off unconscious ]
Linesman Edward Martin was stretchered off unconscious

A soccer fan who punched a linesman unconscious has been told he could face imprisonment for the attack.

Sheffield United supporter John Michael Corker admitted to a court that he committed the offence during a First Division match in January.

Corker, 34, said he had been upset by the referee's decision to send off his team's goalkeeper shortly before the end of the first half.

Pleading guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm, Corker was warned by Portsmouth magistrates that he could face a jail term. He was remanded on bail and is due to be sentenced in March, following a probation officer's report.

Theattack happened during a First Division tie between Portsmouth and Sheffield United, at Fratton Park, Portsmouth.

[ image: Edward Martin]
Edward Martin
The United goalkeeper had come out to clear a ball and a handball decision was given against him.

The referee approached linesman Edward Martin and asked if he thought the attacking team had a goal-scoring opportunity.

When he said he thought they did, the goalkeeper was shown the red card.

In a statement, Mr Martin, 38, said he was watching the players surround the referee when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone approaching from the right.

He thought it was a substitute and did not take much notice.

"Someone hit me on the right-hand-side of my face and I was knocked unconscious," he said. The next thing he remembered was waking up on a stretcher.

Nothing had been broken, but he said his face was sore, his right shoulder damaged and he had suffered from shock.

When interviewed by police, Corker, of Eastbourne, East Sussex, said: "I don't remember much about it actually, I was quite drunk."

Asked why he attacked the linesman, he said: "Because I thought it was his fault."

Chairman of the bench Stanley Kirton said the case was so serious, magistrates were considering sending the case to Crown Court for sentencing.

Chris Randall, defending, said Corker, a meat porter with previous good character reference, had punched the linesman only once.

"He is a person for whom this offence is extremely out of character," said Mr Randall.

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