Former SSI worker John Honeyman ran on the pitch and turned to show the crowd his ‘Save Our Steel’ T-shirt during Boro Leeds game. He pleaded guilty but was praised by the judge for his actions.
A former SSI worker ran on to the pitch at the Riverside Stadium in an “act of solidarity” for his beleaguered steel colleagues, a court heard. And Teesside magistrates expressed sympathy for the Boro fan – even telling him “well done” – after hearing his reasons behind the offence.
John James Honeyman jumped over the barrier and turned to show the crowd his “Save Our Steel” T-shirt during the Boro v Leeds game on Sunday 27 September 2015. The 30-year-old from Saltersgill, Middlesbrough, was subsequently arrested for invading the pitch.
He was among a group of men appearing at Teesside Magistrates Court charged with alleged offences during and after the game. Prosecuting, Rachael Dosworth, told the court the supporter was seen jumping on to the sidelines of the pitch at about 3pm that day.
“He was wearing a Save Our Steel T-shirt and proceeded to show it to people in the seating area,” she said.
The court heard the Teesside dad had been made unemployed from the steel plant in Redcar but had since been fortunate enough to find work. Defending him, Andrew Coleman, told the court: “It was an act of solidarity – an unselfish act and what you might consider morally justified.
“This was Mr Honeyman’s chance to get this message across for people at SSI. He thought ‘I will go onto the pitch and highlight the problems the people of Teesside are facing’.
“It was an occasion when the media cameras were on Teesside. He felt it was the best way of doing it.”
The 30-year-old, who lives on Sutton Way with his partner and three-year-old son, pleaded guilty to going on to the playing area at a football game. The court heard he had been going to matches since he was a young boy and had not been involved in disorder.
Chairman of the magistrates’ bench, Philip Tucker, told him: “You are in an unfortunate position as a large number are on Teesside. It’s your only offence. Regrettably there will be charges you have to pay. But we are not going to give you a football banning order. Well done.”
The Boro fan was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs and charges of £205. Speaking outside the court, he told the Gazette: “I was a steelworker and left about two and a half months ago.
“I wanted to do this for my friends and colleagues who have lost their jobs.”