West Ham United’s gala dinner interrupted by brawl
West Ham United’s end of season gala dinner was disrupted last night after a brawl erupted midway through the evening.
Tempers flared at the Grosvenor House hotel in Central London after one of the players allegedly refused a fan’s request for an autograph.
Senegal forward Demba Ba was abused by the angry supporter. Amid some pushing and shoving, a glass vase was overturned and smashed.
Ba took to Twitter today to insist: “I did sign the autograph. I never refuse to sign autograph to the fans.”
The event yesterday evening was hosted by Sky Sports TV presenter Ben Shepherd, a Hammers fan, who then appealed for calm and for people in the crowd to sit down and calm down.
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Hotel security then called in police. Scotland Yard confirmed this morning that four police officers attended the function at around 9.15pm.
He said that they received reports of a disturbance at the event, but “interviews were taken, but no offence was committed” and so officers left the premises.
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The event attracted 750 guests and was designed to raise money for charity and West Ham’s academy. The tickets were �265 a head.
Demba Ba had told the fan he was “too tired” to sign an autograph. That triggered the drama and the fan began shouting and telling the player how much he had paid to support his team and the least he could do was sign an autograph.
Before and after the fracas, players had been happily signing autographs and having their picture taken with fans.
The evening had started in sombre mode with chairman David Gold addressing the audience and talking about the pain that relegation had brought all true Hammers fans.
He then referred to West Ham’s knighted players , and Bobby Moore, and the tradition and glory of West Ham United and pledged how “we would all get through this together.”
West Ham United’s Academy director Tony Carr than talked about the hope for Hammers future and how the academy players were of such excellent quality.
There was even a hint that one might make his debut for the final game of the season on Sunday.
The end of season awards were presented with Scott Parker winning player of the season and he gave a speech of thanks to the club’s staff and fans and told how proud he was to be club captain,
Significantly, he said he was sure “Hammers will win back promotion” to the Premier League but did not mention the word “we”. It sounded like a farewell speech.
Keeper Robert Green won save of the season, but could not be at the event because his wife had just given birth to a baby.
Just before the presentation to Scott Parker, actor Scott Maslen, formerly of The Bill, now of EastEnders and actor Alex Walkinshaw from The Bill, staged a mock fight with each other on stage and Scott said he was “too tired” to fight, in an attempt to make a joke of the earlier fracas.
A crowd of photographers had gathered outside the event as it drew to a close, but the majority of the players made their exit from a side entrance into waiting taxis.