Nottingham Forest fan claims Sheffield United star Oli McBurnie ‘stamped’ on him after pitchside ‘banter’ | UK News
A Nottingham Forest fan who was allegedly stamped on by Sheffield United player Oli McBurnie has claimed the footballer attacked him after he told the star: “You’re s*** at football, I’m better than you.”
George Brinkley, 27, told Nottingham Magistrates’ Court that he genuinely feared for his life during the attack, where he alleges he was put in a headlock by McBurnie’s teammate Rhian Brewster.
The incident took place on 17 May during a pitch invasion after last season’s Championship play-off semi-final at the City Ground.
Prosecutors said Scotland international McBurnie, who was wearing a protective boot over an injury, suffered “a loss of temper and control” as Brinkley celebrated Forest’s penalty shoot-out win.
McBurnie, 26, who has scored nine goals in 18 games this season, denies a single charge of assault by beating and claims he lost his balance after trying to help another team-mate.
When the court was shown social media footage alleged to have captured the assault, Mr Brinkley said he invaded the pitch from the Peter Taylor Stand due to the “adrenaline” of Forest reaching a Wembley final.
Giving his account to a district judge via a video link to a witness room, Mr Brinkley said he had been sitting near the dug-out, in the second row of the stand, for the match.
He told the court: “At half-time, I spoke to a couple of (United) players.
“I said ‘Oli McBurnie you are s*** at football, I am better than you and I’m not a pro’.”
Mr Brinkley said former Swansea City and Barnsley player McBurnie had heard the comment, adding: “He responded to me, laughing, and said ‘You look like you are’.
“I said ‘Enjoy the Championship next season’. I had a smile on my face. Hopefully, because I was joking, it came across in that way. It’s just a bit of banter, isn’t it?”
When asked by prosecutor Simon Jones how McBurnie responded, Mr Brinkley said: “He had a grin on his face – quite patronising… looking down on me.”
‘Headlocked to the ground’
Moments after Forest’s 3-2 penalty shoot-out win, Mr Brinkley told the court he “celebrated with the two people directly behind me” before jumping over the advertising boards.
He told the court he joined other fans in hugging Forest defender Steve Cook, but then noticed that United forward Billy Sharp had a nose bleed, to which his reaction was “shock”.
Mr Brinkley then described how he was “headlocked to the ground”.
“Oli McBurnie stamped on me once, stamped on me twice, then went to stamp on me for the third time, but then got pulled away.
“My instant reaction was to kick him but I didn’t because I knew what the repercussions would be.”
He added that he feared for his life because his head is “very sensitive” due to past head injuries.
McBurnie’s barrister, Lisa Judge, asked Mr Brinkley if he was suggesting that the striker had singled him out of a crowd and assaulted him “purely because you had said he was a s*** footballer”.
Ms Judge asked: “He (McBurnie) said ‘Aha, that’s the man who said I was a s*** footballer, I am going to stamp on him?'”
Mr Brinkley answered: “I believe so.”
The court was told that McBurnie, from North Yorkshire, maintains that he did not make any physical contact with Mr Brinkley.
The footballer also said in a statement to police he had slightly lost his balance after being out injured for several weeks.
His statement added: “My intention at all times was in fact to make sure that I did not make any such contact with him.”
The trial continues.