10 times fans went too far: featuring bananas, baseball bats and alien invasions

Jon Spurling

1. Pele: not the king of betting


“We’re going to demonstrate outside Pele’s house, put placards up and keep him awake at night,” claimed a delegation of concerned Colombia fans last month. The reason for their militancy? There were rumours that the Brazilian great – commonly regarded as football’s anti-Nostradamus – was about to install Los Cafeteros as one of his World Cup favourites.

“Look what happened when he tipped us to win in 1994,” wailed a spokesman, recalling Colombia’s group stage exit that also resulted in the death of own-goal villain Andres Escobar. “We could do without that kind of drama.”

2. Parker’s limbo lesson

In 1990, Kings of Diamonds striker Wesley Parker was approached by an irate supporter who lambasted the striker’s ineptitude in front of goal for the Jamaican amateurs.

Parker was then taken to an “unknown location”, where he was forced – police later learned – to limbo dance for two hours to “teach him to be more flexible”. The kidnapper then let Parker go, but not before he was told to “be more bendy” in future.


3. Roberto goes bananas


You’re a Corinthians fan, angry at your team’s lacklustre performances, shoddy tactics and boring formation. How to protest? Live in a tree for a week, obviously. Armed with a bag of bananas and identified only as Roberto, our passionate aficionado scaled a timber outside the club’s stadium in 2003, tied himself to it and refused to come down until the team agreed to a more attractive style.

There he stayed for seven full days, despite Corinthians players hurling abuse and rotten fruit. “The players kept sticking their fingers up at me,” Roberto moaned. He retaliated with discarded banana skins.

4. “Go and get the machete, lads!”

In 2003, Swaziland scraped a disappointing draw in a World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde. As the squad prepared to leave the ground on their team coach, a fan mob armed with baseball bats surrounded the bus.

The players promptly hopped off to confront the furious gaggle of supporters and pulled out their own array of weapons, before police quickly dispersed them. “We wouldn’t have used the bats – we just wanted to make a point,” claimed one fan. Yeah, right.


5. Let him entertain you


Anxious to convey his displeasure about Port Vale’s performances during the 2001/02 season, one fan decided to take the law into his own hands by jumping on his push bike and riding around the perimeter of the training ground, hurling abuse at his team.

The irked Vale players drop-kicked balls to try to dislodge him from his bike, but the intruder kept them at arm’s length. “Robbie Williams could do a better job than you losers,” was one of his choicest insults. They never did manage to catch up with him.

6. Flying in the face of the law

League One Stevenage had just knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup in January 2011, so how did 24-year-old fan Robert Fitzgerald celebrate? He stormed the pitch and punched Boro defender Scott Laird in the face on live TV.

Laird had previously gone out with Fitzgerald’s girlfriend and “did not treat her correctly”, Stevenage magistrates were later told, but Fitzgerald was jailed for 12 weeks and banned from grounds for six years. His girlfriend’s view on the matter went unrecorded.

7. Aliens aren’t among us


Just why did groups of distinctly other-worldly-looking fans, clad in black cloaks with circle insignia, start turning up at top matches across Europe last year?

Their bizarre presence, plus a ‘meteor’ falling on Hackney Marshes inscribed with #WinnerTakesEarth, even prompted Franz Beckenbauer to proclaim the ghoulish fans from another planet, an alien invasion apparently imminent. Definitely not a rather annoying Samsung ‘viral’ campaign for the Brazil World Cup, then. Oh.

8. “Let me at the World Cup”

He’d already thrown a Barcelona flag at Luis Figo in protest at the Portugal skipper’s defection to Real Madrid at Euro 2004, but Spanish prankster Jimmy Jump’s most famous moment arrived during the 2010 World Cup when he raced onto the field wearing an “Against Racism” T-shirt and attempted to place a Barretina hat onto the trophy, before being taken out in spectacular fashion by a bouncer.

The message? Pranks just aren’t your forte, Jimbo.


9. Brazilian fan fires at will

A feisty clash between Brazilian giants Botafogo and Fluminese ended abruptly in 1957 when, having seen his team fluff several chances, a fuming Botafogo supporter jumped over the perimeter fencing, grabbed the ball which had gone out of play and proceeded to pump it full of bullets from his revolver.

The reason? “I thought it was time to prove that at least someone connected with Botafogo could shoot properly,” he barked. Zing.


10. “Bring out your rats!”

When Honduras travelled to arch rivals El Salvador for the second leg of a fractious 1970 World Cup qualifier, the army escort they got to the team hotel may have indicated fan unpleasantries were afoot.

Around midnight, a barrage of rocks smashed all the hotel’s windows, followed closely by a volley of dead rats. “It occurred to me that I should have stayed at home,” admitted one petrified Honduran.

This feature originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

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