Canning Town footballer fined for hitting steward after red card

William Drake of Redbridge (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

William Drake of Redbridge (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

A non-league footballer has been ordered to pay almost £1,300 for spitting at supporters and hitting a steward after being sent off for elbowing the opposition’s centre-half.

Redbridge FC player William Drake, 27, had previously denied assault, threatening behaviour, and criminal damage during the match against Sudbury Town on February 27.

He was due to stand trial at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday last week, but changed his pleas and admitted all the offences.

After leaving court, Drake, of Hooper Road, Canning Town, said: “I’m just sorry for what happened.”

The court heard the steward, Thomas Crofton, sustained a blow to the jaw when trying to grab a fire extinguisher from the player after the forward set it off following his dismissal.

Drake had been given a yellow card in the first half, followed by a red card in the second half, for elbowing Sudbury defender Ryan Henshaw.

The court heard after the incident Drake had been barracked by Sudbury players as he left the pitch at the Wardale Williams stadium.

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Prosecutor Sandra Dyer said: “As Drake walked towards the crowd he pulled his head back before spitting at fans.”

A witness told Drake that he was a “dirty horrible man” and it was the most disgusting thing a footballer could do.

As he continued towards the dressing room he grabbed a fire extinguisher from a wall and let it off.

“Mr Crofton had seen Drake and foam was sprayed everywhere,” said Mrs Dyer.

Charlie Charles, mitigating, said his client did not seek to offer any excuse for his behaviour. Drake had not agreed with being given a red card and had been surrounded by Sudbury players before leaving the pitch.

He was barracked by the crowd, but could not recall spitting. Mr Charles said: “He was very, very het up to say the least.”

The court was told Drake did not remember letting it the extinguisher off and hit out connecting with Mr Crofton accidentally.

The steward tried to take the extinguisher from Drake and felt a blow to the right side of his jaw.

Drake, a father-of-one, was fined £400 and ordered £75 compensation to Mr Crofton and a further £70 to Sudbury Town to refill the fire extinguisher.

He must also pay £500 costs and £40 to the victims’ fund and given a ban by the FA following his sending off.

Ricky Eaton, chairman of Redbridge FC, said Drake no longer played for the club and had quit football.

He added Drake was suspended pending the outcome of the case and had not sought to re-register for this season.