Sports

When fans attack: 6 times sports fans got REALLY into the game

Major League sports teams rely on passionate fans to cheer them to success and to boo their opponents to defeat. But sometimes fans can get carried away and instead of merely watching the action, they become part of it.

Sports can bring out the best in athletes, and sometimes the worst in spectators

A Birmingham City supporter punches Aston Villa's Jack Grealish in the back of the head after running on the field to attack the captain. (Sky Sports Football)

A man faces assault and trespassing charges after trying to take down Bret 'The Hitman' Hart during his WWE Hall of Fame speech on Sunday. 

Prosecutors say the man told police he "felt like it was right moment" to go after the Calgary wrestling legend. 

If his goal was to steal the thunder of a wrestling legend during a meaningful career milestone, and cause all of WWE fandom to resent him while also getting subdued by a plethora of security guards throwing punches, then yes, his timing was impeccable.  

This got us thinking of other times in sports history that fans felt it was appropriate to become part of the action, and have their "moment." Here are some of the most notorious incidents of "When fans attack."

Malice in the Palace, Nov. 19, 2004:

With 45.9 seconds left in the game, Detroit Pistons centre Ben Wallace was fouled by Indiana Pacers small forward Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace). Angry about the foul, Wallace pushed Artest, igniting an on-court brawl that was eventually diffused with the help of Rasheed Wallace acting as peace-keeper.

But while Artest was lying down on the scorer's table trying to calm down, a fan threw their drink at him, which caused Artest to jump up and rush the fan. 

This ignited the brawl all over again, which now included players and spectators and lasted several minutes. 

In the end, the NBA suspended nine players, charged five with assault, and five fans were banned from attending Pistons home games for life. The NBA also tightened arena security and changed their beer policy. 


A Shattering Experience, March 29, 2001:

During a game between the Leafs and Flyers in Philadelphia, Toronto tough guy Tie Domi received a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. As he sat in the penalty box, Philadelphia fans began throwing debris at him, so he retaliated by squirting his water bottle over the glass. Fan Chris Falcone leaned over the glass barrier to give Domi a piece of his mind. But the glass gave way and Falcone tumbled into the penalty box where he scuffled with Domi before he was eventually subdued by game officials. Domi was not charged for the incident, but he was fined $1,000 for squirting his water bottle in the first place. 


The Internet finds 'beer can guy', Oct. 4, 2016:

ATTENTION SPORTS FANS: Beers are for drinking, not for throwing at players. 

Tensions were high during a wild-card playoff game between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. So high, in fact, one fan took it upon himself to throw a beer can on the field, barely missing Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim after he made a catch. This caused an internet frenzy as sleuths put in work analyzing game footage to find the tosser. 

Ken Pagan, former Post Media sports writer, turned himself in two days later. Pagan was banned from MLB games for 12 months and has to stay 500 metres away from the Rogers Centre. He pleaded guilty to mischief under $5,000 and was required to perform 100 hours of community service. 

Oh, and he will also be forever known as "beer can guy."

Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim gets prepared to catch the ball when a beer can nearly hits him. 1:36

Father-son day at the ballpark, Sept. 19, 2002: 

Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa said, "it felt like a football team had hit me from behind" when he was attacked by a shirtless father-son duo at Comiskey Park (now known as Guaranteed Rate Field) in Chicago. The elder attacker, William Ligue Jr., threw punches as his 15-year-old son grabbed 54-year-old Gamboa's legs. 

Kansas City players charged the field to help their coach and take control of the situation. The father was sentenced to 30 months probation after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated battery. Gamboa was left with permanent hearing loss after the unfortunate event.


Bruins invade the stands at MSG, Dec. 23, 1979:

It was a chaotic ending to a game that saw the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden. Fuel was added to the fire when a fan reached over the glass and smacked Bruins' Stan Jonathan with a rolled up program. Then the floodgates opened as all of the Bruins hopped the boards. Boston defenceman Mike Milbury returned from the dressing room to see what all the commotion was and went into what he later called "survival mode."

At around the two-minute mark you can see Milbury join Peter McNab in a moment that has gone down in hockey history as Milbury beats a Rangers fan with his own shoe. 


Try the Punch, March 10, 2019:

Paul Mitchell was sentenced to 14 weeks in jail after running onto the field at the Birmingham City vs. Aston Villa championship game and punching the latter's Jack Grealish in the back of the head. 

In a statement from his lawyers, Mitchell said he was sorry for his behaviour and the shame he brought to his family and the team he's supported since childhood. "He cannot explain what came over him. He is certainly remorseful today," the statement read.

Jack Grealish on the other hand, scored the winning goal for Aston Villa.

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