Mallards 'disgusted' after flag protest
Gareth Cauldwell • Published 11 Dec 2012 11:36
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Linfield fans holding their protest at half time during the Ballinamallard v Linfield match.
Ballinamallard United has released a statement in which they make clear their position on the protest which took place on the Ferney Park pitch at half time of Saturday's league encounter against Linfield.
The protest by a small group of around 20 Linfield supporters was about last week's decision by Belfast City Council to fly the union flag at City Hall on designated days, not daily.
The statement in full reads:
"On Saturday past Ballinamallard United Football Club welcomed Linfield F.C. to Ferney Park for the first ever competitive fixture between both sides. Linfield have won the Irish League title on 51 occasions and it was a fixture that the clubs founder members could only have dreamt about in 1975 when the club was reformed.
"A crowd of over 1,500 watched the game which was an open and competitive fixture from start to finish and although the result didn't go our way it was a very successful day for our club and football in the area.
"At half time a protest took place on the Ferney Park pitch involving approximately 20 Linfield supporters.
"Ballinamallard United had no advance notice that this protest was going to occur. When the incident proceeded our club officials consulted with the Linfield Stewards who had "responsibility for their supporters on the day", along with the IFA Security officer who attended the game and the PSNI who decided that any action against the protesters would only inflame the situation.
"The game resumed as normal after the half time break and there was no delay.
"We would like to pay tribute to the young Varsity Team from Jets Cheerleading, Enniskillen who performed magnificently before the game and also throughout half time in what were difficult circumstances.
"It is also to be noted that at no time did Ballinamallard supporters take part in or display any flags other than those of Ballinamallard United Football club. They were impeccably behaved throughout the game as were the vast majority of Linfield fans who attended the match.
"We as a club have worked extremely hard over the years to put this club on the map and have a strong cross community and inclusive ethos to its infrastructure and are rightly proud of this fact.
"A lot of people worked diligently in the run up to this game with the IFA via their security officer and also Linfield Football club in ensuring it was a well organised and smooth operation.
"We are disgusted by the actions of a few people who on the day have tried to undermine what was an historic day for our club and which was also a very successful one overall.
"Politics and sport do not mix.
"We are disappointed that some people felt it necessary to leave the game early and we trust that this press release will explain quite clearly our position.
"We have been very grateful for the support we have received since the start of the season from throughout the county and from the Omagh and Castlederg areas encompassing all sections of our community. We look forward to your continued support.
"It is however unfortunate that some have also chosen to jump on the bandwagon and criticise our club via social media websites without knowing the full facts.
"We look forward to working with the PSNI regarding any investigation that they will be carrying out in relation to the on pitch protest.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 11 Dec 12