Fans sent spinning after tossing salad
Wednesday April 17, 2002
Nick Hornby and the rest of the Islington soccerati were not the first football fans to toss salad; Chelsea fans have been flinging celery around at games since the mid-80s.
So it came as something of a shock to three of their number when they were hauled out of the crowd during their team's FA Cup semi-final against Fulham and charged with "throwing celery without lawful authority".
Charlie Driver, 40, David Blake, 28, and Robbie Sanders, 28, were today given good behaviour orders by Birmingham magistrates after they were dragged from the Villa Park stands for throwing the vegetable in the general direction of Fulham manager Jean Tigana.
The three will each be fined £300 if they break the order or are caught throwing celery in the next 12 months.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Driver, who has never been in trouble with the police before, said: "I'm relieved I can still go and watch Chelsea, still keep my season ticket and I've got no criminal convictions.
"I won't be eating any celery anymore, or throwing it."
But how does a fan gain "lawful authority" to toss salad in the direction of the opposition's bench? Guardian Unlimited Football asked a leading sports law expert to find out.
"Throwing celery without lawful authority is assault," he explained. "The fans in question could only have receive permission from Tigana himself, who must give his express consent to throw celery at him.
"It doesn't have to be written consent, so long as he makes himself clear that he is willing for celery to be thrown at him.
"However, the fans would be allowed to throw celery at Tigana if they were defending themselves against him. Perhaps if he was chasing them with a pointed stick."
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