Football club to increase security after flare-up

Whitby Town take on Blyth Spartans at the Turnbull Ground. Picture: Bri Murfield
Whitby Town take on Blyth Spartans at the Turnbull Ground. Picture: Bri Murfield

Security will be tightened at Whitby Town FC’s Turnbull Ground after a smoke bomb was let off during a recent fixture.

In the wake of the incident, which occurred during the Blues’ Evo-Stik Premier Division clash with Blyth Spartans, Town chairman Graham Manser was summoned to meet the commander of Whitby Police, Inspector Andy Everitt, to discuss preventative measures.

The police have insisted that the club’s security staff adopt a more robust stewarding policy including selective body searches.

Mr Manser told The Whibty Gazette: “It’s a shame that a last-gasp win over Blyth in front of a big crowd has been overshadowed somewhat by this incident.

“It’s a criminal offence so obviously it’s something we’re taking very seriously. Fortunately, the smoke dispersed within about 30 seconds and no real disruption was caused.

“It’s not what we want, because as a club we aim to provide a family-friendly atmosphere at the Turnbull.”

At the meeting, which was also attended by Adie Mathie, the managing director of the club’s security company, Inspector Everitt conveyed that the throwing of a smoke bomb, flare or a firework was a criminal offence and that the police should have been called immediately so that the culprit could be arrested.

The perpetrator has not been identified, but it is believed that the smoke bomb was thrown by a Whitby supporter.

“It came from the Whitby end and the smoke was blue, which I think gives some indication as to who may have been responsible,” added Mr Manser.

Submitting to a search is now a condition of entry to the Turnbull Ground and there will be signage in place to advise members of the public.

A barring policy will be implemented where spectators are found to be in breach of the club’s rules and regulations

Any supporter who is convicted will also be banned from the ground for a period of time to be determined by the club’s committee.

A statement released by the Seasiders said: “Whitby Town Football Club totally backs the decision of the police, not only is the throwing of pyrotechnics illegal and dangerous, it will also result in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League issuing sanctions against the club.

“The club urges its supporters to come to games, enjoy themselves, make a noise, but behave.”

North Yorkshire Police said they will be working closely with Whitby Town Football Club and their security provider to ensure that all persons attending home games are kept safe and criminal incidents are dealt with robustly.

An 89th-minute header from defender Richard Pell saw Whitby claim a 1-0 victory over the Spartans in the December 28 fixture.

The game took place just a week before Blyth entertained Championship side Birmingham City live on TV in their high-profile FA Cup Third Round clash and attracted a crowd of 584 to the Turnbull, Town’s highest gate of the season to date.