The Newcastle United fan who challenged police horse 'Bud' to a boxing match before punching the animal in the head has apologised - insisting he is an animal lover.
Unemployed Barry Rogerson - who is on disability benefit for a lung condition - was captured attacking the animal during scenes of public disorder after Newcastle lost 3-0 to local rivals Sunderland at St James' Park in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Rogerson was captured landing a blow on the head of the police horse.
“I reacted stupidly. I did not go out to attack a horse,” he said.
“I love animals – I’ve got three dogs, a fish pond out the back and I feed foxes across the road.
“For some reason people are more upset about the fact that I hit a horse than a policewoman getting hurt.
“But I would like to apologise to the horse, to all the mounted section, to people of the North East.
"I am on medication and had been drinking, but that does not excuse what happened.
“I had two pints before the match, two bottles of beer at the match and a pint when I left early.
"I had just come out of the Terrace bar at St James’, turned right and I was right in the middle of it.
"There was a loud bang and it spooked all the horses. This horse came towards me and I just reacted.
"The fire cracker went off, and it charged at me. That’s when I panicked and threw a punch.
“It made contact with the horse, I tried to get him away from me with my left hand and then punched him with my right. It was sheer panic.”
Rogerson is facing a lifetime ban from Newcastle. A spokesman for the club commented on the incidients: "We were embarrassed and appalled by the behaviour of a minority of so-called fans who last night were involved in disturbances and disorder in Newcastle city centre after the match.
"Newcastle United have been working with Northumbria Police, and will continue to do so, in order to identify all of the individuals concerned.
"The club will take the strongest possible action against those involved in the disturbances and will impose immediate lifetime bans on all those found guilty.
"These deplorable individuals have no place at Newcastle United and bring shame on the club and the vast majority of its proper, law-abiding, fans."
Northumbria Police said in a statement that 29 arrests were made, less than 24 hours after Millwall fans disgraced their club by fighting among themselves during their FA Cup semi-final defeat by Wigan Athletic at Wembley.
- Sports & Recreation
- Newcastle United
- Barry Rogerson