Melbourne A-League derby abandoned as fans storm pitch and keeper attacked

The A-League Men Melbourne derby descended into chaos after fans invaded the pitch amid ugly scenes at AAMI Park that left the City goalkeeper Tom Glover bloodied and the match abandoned for player safety reasons.

League leaders City were ahead through Aiden O’Neill’s 11th-minute goal when trouble erupted in the 22nd minute of the match. Both sets of fans had been throwing flares on to the pitch but the situation escalated when a flare appeared to hit a Channel 10 cameraman, then exploded when Glover picked another off the ground and threw it back into the stand housing Victory’s active support.

As supporters flooded on to the field of play, a metal bucket used to dispose of flares was thrown in the direction of Glover, striking him in the face and drawing blood. Match referee Alex King, who was also injured and left covered in powder from the bucket, had no choice but to pull the players off the pitch and suspend play, before it was later abandoned.

Absolutely unacceptable ugly scenes at 20 minutes at the Melbourne Derby. Glover got smashed by a bin by some fuckwit. Terrible. Game paused. As if Aus football couldn’t get any worse rn #MCYvMVC

— Evan Morgan Grahame (@Evan_M_G) December 17, 2022

Football Australia denounced the “shocking scenes” and promised action would be taken against those responsible.

“Such behaviour has no place in Australian football, with a full Football Australia investigation to commence immediately, where strong sanctions to be handed down,” a statement read.

It comes after a day of protests across the A-League Men competition, as fans made their feelings known about the Australian Professional Leagues’ controversial decision to sell off grand final hosting rights to Sydney for the next three years.

There had been a tense atmosphere throughout the start of the game, with both sets of active fans planning to depart the game at the 20-minute mark. Both sets of fans started “fuck the APL” chants immediately after the preceding A-League Women’s game finished. Victory and City fans each unfurled banners pre-game and as the half unfolded, referencing their displeasure with the APL.

Victory fans let off small fireworks then flares, while their goalkeeper Paul Izzo had to help dispose of flares thrown by City fans.

And our fall from grace is complete. Like the World Cup never happened. Very sad & angry.

— simonhill1894 (@simonhill1894) December 17, 2022

At Gosford Stadium, Central Coast Mariners fans headed for the exit at the 20-minute mark of their game against Sydney FC and held a banner aloft which called for APL chief executive Danny Townsend to resign.

Protestors hold a banner in the 20th minute as fans walk out of the stadium during the Central Coast Mariners’ game against Sydney FC. Photograph: Jeremy Ng/AAP

At McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, Jets fans also left the ground in the middle of the first half of their match against Brisbane Roar, with fans unfurling a banner saying “fans>$$”.

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