The father of a seven-year-old Hull fan struck by a flare has warned of the dangers of taking pyrotechnics into football grounds, saying his son could have been blinded.
Jenson Lawton had asked his dad David if he could go to the toilet just after his beloved Tigers had taken the lead in their Sky Bet Championship match at Barnsley on November 6.
As they walked towards the exit to the concourse, a flare struck Jenson.
“He turned left and someone threw it, and it hit him on his cheekbone,” David told the PA news agency.
“He started crying and screaming and I lost my temper a bit and ran off towards the (Hull) fans who I thought had done it. But I thought ‘I can’t leave him’ and went back down to Jenson.
“The flare had gone out but the end was still hot. It had been smoking while it was in the stands.
“Some stewards and paramedics took us to the first aid room in the Barnsley stand to treat his injury. He had a small burn on his cheek but they administered some creams to treat it straight away, and some water and a swab to keep it cool. It didn’t blister up thankfully.”
Jenson was well enough to return and watch the rest of the match, but David admits his son had a lucky escape.
“That’s why I lost my temper. I saw some people on social media put ‘oh, it didn’t hurt him that much’, but an inch higher and he’s going to the hospital because it would have hit his eyeball.
“A bit higher up and he could have been blinded.”
David says the incident has not fazed Jenson, and he has attended matches since.
“He’s been quite good with it and taken it in his stride. (Going to watch Hull) is mine and his little thing. I’m not with his mum any more, if that had put him off going to City, I’d have been gutted,” David said.
Barnsley’s Cauley Woodrow gave Jenson a signed shirt after the match at Oakwell, as did Hull. He then visited the Tigers’ training ground on November 18 along with his dad and his sister Emilia, posing for a picture with George Honeyman and Richie Smallwood.
South Yorkshire Police’s investigation into the incident is ongoing. A teenage boy attended a police station in the Humberside force area on the evening of November 6 and provided a voluntary interview in connection to the incident.
EFL safety and operations advisor Bob Eastwood said: “Using pyrotechnics inside football stadia is not only dangerous but it is also a criminal offence that will lead to police action, prosecution and football bans for any individuals identified as being involved in their use.
“EFL clubs work hard to create safe stadium environments to ensure fans of all ages are able to feel safe attending matches up and down the country and it is vitally important that the irresponsible acts of a minority do not endanger others.
“Already this season we have seen a number of unsavoury and dangerous incidents that have threatened the safety of innocent fans.
“At a time when the return of fans to football grounds has been a welcome relief, we must all do our part to ensure we can watch our teams in a safe environment and the fan experience remains one everybody can enjoy.”