SHEFFIELD United ace Oli McBurnie has gone on trial accused of stamping on a rival fan during a frenzied pitch invasion.
Nottingham Forrest fan George Brinkley, 27, claimed he was singled out and attacked after telling the star: “You’re s*** at football, I’m better than you.”
PAOli McBurnie pictured arriving at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court where he is charged with assault by beating[/caption]
PAThe Blades ace is accused of stamping on a fan following a pitch invasion[/caption]
Brinkley told Nottingham Magistrates’ Court he genuinely feared for his life as fans stormed the pitch following last season’s Championship play-off semi-final.
Fans rushed from the stands following the full time whistle, with Blades skipper Billy Sharp also headbutted by a Forest season ticket-holder who was later jailed for 24 weeks.
After being put in a headlock by McBurnie’s team-mate, Rhian Brewster, prosecutors claim Mr Brinkley was stamped by McBurnie as he suffered “a loss of temper and control”.
McBurnie, 26, of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, who has scored nine goals in 18 games this season, denies a single charge of assault by beating.
McBurnie, who was wearing a protective boot over an injury, claims he lost his balance after going to the aid of a team-mate.
He faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison if he’s convicted.
After social media footage alleged to show the assault was played to the court on Wednesday, Mr Brinkley said he invaded the pitch because of 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 shit 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?”
Asked by prosecutor Simon Jones how McBurnie had reacted, Mr Brinkley said: “He had a grin on his face – quite patronising… looking down on me.”
Describing what he claims happened moments after Forest’s 3-2 penalty shoot-out win, Mr Brinkley told the court: “I celebrated with the two people directly behind me.
“I jumped over the advertising boards – I had that much adrenaline going through me.”
Brinkley said that after joining other fans in hugging Forest defender Steve Cook, he was stunned to see that United forward Billy Sharp had a nose bleed.
“My instant reaction was shock,” the supporter added. “I didn’t know how it had happened.”
Invited to tell the district judge what happened next, Mr Brinkley said: “I got headlocked to the ground. I was laid on my back.
“Oli McBurnie stamped on me once, stamped on me twice, then went to stamp on me for a 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.”
The alleged victim said he knew his assailant was McBurnie because he was the only person he had seen wearing a protective boot.
He added: “I couldn’t get up because of the people around me – I felt that I was going to get my head kicked in.
“I did genuinely fear for my life because I have had head injuries in the past and my head is very sensitive.”
The court heard that Mr Brinkley did not realise it was Brewster who had put him a headlock until he saw social media footage of the incident.
During cross-examination by McBurnie’s barrister, Lisa Judge, Mr Brinkley was asked if he was suggesting that the striker had selected him out of a crowd of hundreds and assaulted him “purely because you had said he was a shit footballer”.
Ms Judge asked: “He (McBurnie) said ‘Aha, that’s the man who said I was a shit footballer, I am going to stamp on him?’”
Mr Brinkley answered: “I believe so.”
Prosecutors dropped a common assault charge brought against Brewster in July.
The trial continues.