Padiham Football Club’s manager has spoken of his dismay after Saturday’s match at Congleton was abandoned following a tirade of racial abuse aimed at Storks keeper Tony Aghayere.
Padiham’s changing room was also targeted by thieves during the game but the club lay no blame at Congleton FC’s door as, according to manager Liam Smith, they reacted superbly to the incidents with the regular home fans even organising a collection for the visiting players following the thefts.
Liam said: “There was racist abuse aimed at our goalkeeper from a section behind the goal. Our first team coach, Al Norwood, was made aware of the abuse by Tony while a number of players, from both sides, raised their concerns. At that point I decided to make a stand and I took my players off the pitch.
“All our support is with our goalkeeper because he shouldn’t have to experience anything like this. We will offer him as much support as we can and we will be right by his side.
“It’s in the hands of the FA now, Kick It Out and the league itself. Apparently it started in the first half but it worsened during the break in play. I have to give a huge amount of respect to their players for raising the alarm and to their staff for their support. We worked together.
“People forget that Tony is only 21. He’s a young kid. It’s not nice for anybody to be subjected to that. He wasn’t in a position to continue playing.
“The abuse was horrible but he’s just trying to put it behind him now. I’ve spoken to him every day since the event and he’s determined to move forward.
“He showed incredible professionalism throughout the ordeal, he didn’t react at all.
“That showed wisdom beyond his years. As a football club we had to respond, we had to make a stand because this type of thing isn’t welcome in the game. It shouldn’t happen in the streets or on a football pitch.”
Regarding the thefts, Liam told the Express: “It wasn’t great. I got made aware of the robbery in the dressing rooms around the 55-minute mark.
“We’d made a couple of changes and the players substituted, who had gone for a shower, noticed that their wallets had been emptied. They let me know and I immediately notified the linesman.
“Their dug out was also informed while the game was still in play. The referee came over and I made him aware of the situation."