A Premiership football team were left stranded at their hotel after a fan of their Blackpool matchday rivals stood on the roof of their coach.
The vehicle owned by Arsenal was due to make at fifteen mile journey to Blackpool.
The club driver who had started to panic at the thought that Arsenal would be fined for turning up late called police to try and talk Blackpool fan Neil Holden down.
However Arsenal’s plight was saved by......Doncaster Rovers a court heard.
The Doncaster team were staying at the same hotel and when their transport rolled into the car park Arsenal officials commandeered it.
Adrian Hollamby prosecuting at Blackpool Magistrates Court said that Arsenal’s first team were staying at a Preston hotel prior to their FA Cup tie at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road ground.
The prosecutor said the Arsenal management were given information that they might be targeted for protests by disaffected Blackpool fans who want rid of the club’s current owners.
“Arsenal made sure their coach was parked at the rear of their hotel and hired a security officer with guard dog to monitor the coach.”
“The Arsenal driver Lee Ogaza which was worked for the club for nine years went to the coach much earlier than usual to check it.He was on board with the club chef and travel manager.”
“The chef suddenly said to Lee Ogaza – there is someone on your roof.”
“The driver got out and found Holden standing on the roof .”
“Holden said to him I have nothing against you mate.I am protesting against Blackpool”
In his statement the driver told police how Holden‘s action caused disruption and delay to the club’s plans.
He said Arsenal could be fined if they were late and pre match warm ups and medical issues could be affected.
Holden remained on the coach for almost an hour before he came down.
Police had been called to the scene.
Holden-an HGV driver of Marton Drive Blackpool,Lancs-was prosecuted under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act legislation which was brought in by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in a bid to stop secondary picketing during the miner’s strike.
The 43-year-old admitted preventing the driver from doing his daily business- driving the luxury coach.
Steven Townley ,defending,said:”This was a spur of the moment decision by four friends who travelled from Blackpool to Preston when they heard the Arsenal team were staying at the Marriott Hotel.”
“It was decided to formulate a protest.They had no equipment only scarves bearing the words Oyston Out.”
“My client got on the roof of the Arsenal coach as a protest against the owners of Blackpool FC.He did not damage to the vehicle and was not abusive to anyone.”
“It gained publicity which is what was wanted.”
Holden was fined £500 and must pay £135 costs.
Chairman of the Bench David Hearton told him:”It was only good fortune that the Doncaster Rovers coach arrived at the hotel.”
“Your action caused disruption and inconvenience even though it was spontaneous.”