When Javier Hernandez scored his second goal against Stoke City at the weekend, all but securing Manchester United’s first away win of the season and a vital three points in their quest to keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the table, he sent the thousands of travelling fans at the Britannia Stadium, and millions more worldwide, wild. However, one man above all will remember celebrating that goal more than every other Manchester United fan.
As Chicharito headed for the corner flag to celebrate, he was greeted by a man so overcome with emotion that he felt the urge to jump the barriers and join his heroes on the pitch.
This isn’t quite accurate. Technically the pitch invader failed to reach the little Mexican, instead falling over onto his arse with all the grace of a Paul Scholes tackle. Luckily for him the Stoke security seemed not to be in too much of a hurry to intervene, allowing the fan to console himself with a hug from a bemused Darren Fletcher.
One can only assume that as a result of his antics he will have been banned from ever watching a football match at the Britannia again, possibly from attending any premier league football for a couple of years, I’m not sure of the punishment for pitch invasion. But who cares. That man got to be involved in the most thrilling and atmospheric moment of a football match, that of the late winner. For a second he too was being cheered on by those in the stands, and he was experiencing all this with the footballers whom he has supported for years.
Celebrating a last gasp winner down the pub is a one thing, and for most people it is a moment that can only be bettered by celebrating it at the ground itself. But apparently there are a select few who push the boundaries further, breaking down that final barrier that separates players and fans.
Other than the punishment, the only other downside to this fan’s exploits is the fact that this was not the best example of a supporter celebrating with the players. That honour surely lies with the Tottenham fan who not only managed to reach the players after Aaron Lennon’s 94th minute equaliser against Arsenal, but also was able to position himself at the bottom of a Spurs pileup, making it impossible for the security to take him away.
Yet whilst these two fans may have had fulfilled the dreams of many football supporters, they both pale in comparison with the achievement of infamous French prankster Rémi Gaillard, who managed to pose as a Loreint football player after their victory in the final of the Coupe de France in 2002. It is hard to describe just how much Galliard gets away with, but some of the highlights must be standing on stage as the team lift the cup, getting told by the president of France that he had a good game, and doing a lap of honor with the rest of the Loreint players in front of cheering supporters.
Most of us of course would never dare venture as far as this, yet these three examples show that whilst as fans we may never be able to score the winning goal in the cup final, this does not mean we cannot celebrate it on the pitch and lift the trophy, so long as you’re willing to take the fine and sit out future trips to Stoke.
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