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Racial abuse incident at Dover Athletic game against Hartlepool United leaves young fan from Aylesham scared

A father has told of his six-year-old daughter's fear as football fans hurled a tirade of racial abuse at Dover Athletic players at an away game.

Jamie Parsons had made the 330 mile journey from his home in Aylesham to the match against Hartlepool United yesterday with his girlfriend and young daughters, aged two and six, when things took a turn for the worst.

Jamie Parsons often takes his daughters, Ellie-May and Iris, to football matches (17216696)
Jamie Parsons often takes his daughters, Ellie-May and Iris, to football matches (17216696)

The National League game was halted for several minutes after Dover striker Inih Effiong scored a 36th-minute penalty to put his team ahead.

Whites players celebrated in front of the home supporters, where racist comments were aimed at players by some fans.

Mr Parsons says he six-year-old daughter Ellie-May became frightened and has slammed the behaviour of home supporters.

"'Daddy I'm scared' was something I never thought I would hear from my daughter's mouth within a non-league stadium," Mr Parsons said.

"During half time the Hartlepool announcer read a report condemning the incident, but then 90% of the capacity continued to boo/abuse Ricky Modeste and Inih Effiong every time they touched the ball after being told at half time what had happened in the far corner of the ground.

Ellie May with former Dover player Nortei Nortey last season (17216808)
Ellie May with former Dover player Nortei Nortey last season (17216808)

"The abuse was still aimed at them during the second half and showed the home support actually believe the players were to blame for the abuse they received.

"The home fans were just so aggressive. I've never seen anything like it at this level of football.

The 29-year-old, who lives in Harrison Road, says his family were forced to be escorted to their car by police after the match, which Dover won 2-0.

"After the game we were kept in the ground for about 15 minutes," he added. "All 56 of us that made the 600 plus mile round trip to the north east.

"I believe this was the right decision from security and police as the home fans were obviously very emotional after the game, it allowed tensions too lower.

"As the home fans were climbing fences hurling abuse at us travelling fans, I can see why it scared my six-year-old daughter.

Ellie-May at a previous match last season in Hartlepool(17216806)
Ellie-May at a previous match last season in Hartlepool(17216806)

"On release from the ground me and my party of seven - including my partner and two children - were told we need a police escort to the car for our own safety. We were told told the quickest way out of the town and not to look back, which I did find amusing.

"I won't be taking my children back to that ground again."

A family of football fanatics, Mr Parsons says they go up and down the country to games, having only missed one away match in the last two seasons.

He believes more police should be on patrol at such games.

"The reason I started following Dover Athletic for the last three season was the family feel the league had as a whole," he said.

"We followed Chelsea up and down the country for years before, but after having two young children - the Premier League wasn't the place for them.

"There is a massive lack of police presence at these sorts of events. At the bigger league games, there are far more police. But at this game, there were only a few."

"The home fans were just so aggressive. I've never seen anything like it at this level of football..." - Jamie Parsons

In a statement released by the club, it says this is not the first time players "have had to contend with racial abuse" and has branded the incident "inexcusable".

The statement reads: "The board, management and players of Dover Athletic FC stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder against racism. Racism has no place in our society, full stop.

"Dover Athletic FC promotes inclusivity and does not tolerate any form of discrimination.

"This is not the first time that our players and staff have had to contend with racial abuse during a National League fixture.

"The latest events at Hartlepool yesterday where inexcusable and we will support the authorities in any way we can to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

Inih Effiong - one of the Dover players subjected to racial abuse at Hartlepool. Picture: Alan Langley (17218095)
Inih Effiong - one of the Dover players subjected to racial abuse at Hartlepool. Picture: Alan Langley (17218095)

"We will also be submitting our own reports to the National League and Football Association.We firmly believe that action needs to be taken – to demonstrate that the football family DO consider this type of intolerance to be completely unacceptable.

"Incidents of this nature cannot be ignored, too often excuses are used to downplay such events and to even pass blame back to the victim – this cannot stand!

"At Dover we are one team and will support each other and in particular the players and staff effected by yesterday’s events, through this difficult time.

"We are strong together and will continue to fly the flag for inclusivity and respect for all."

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