A TEENAGE Black Cats fan who pushed over NUFC goalkeeper Steve Harper during the Wear-Tyne derby has been banned from the Stadium of Light for three years.
Ross Miller has received thousands of internet death threats for his moment of madness which followed Asamoah Gyan’s last-minute equaliser in January’s match.
The 17-year-old appeared at Sunderland Youth Court yesterday where he pleaded guilty to assault, entering a playing area and a public order offence.
Despite begging for forgiveness in the press with father Gary, the lifelong Black Cats fan must now give up his season ticket for three years after receiving a football banning order.
The court heard how the incident unfolded after Miller joined in a confrontation between his father and fellow fan Wes Saunders, who played for rivals Newcastle during the 1980s.
Minutes later, Sunderland scored in the dying seconds of the game and Miller made his illegal run out of the stands at the Stadium of Light.
Prosecutor Michael Rose told the court: “Ross then runs onto the pitch, approaches the Newcastle goalkeeper, pushing him from behind and pushing him over, not a hard push as far as we can tell.
“He (Harper) falls down and stays down for a little while and made no complaint of assault himself.
“Ross returned to the stands and was seized by other supporters and delivered to the stewards.”
The teenager, of Tangmere, Spennymoor, admitted running onto the pitch but did not plead guilty to the other two offences - one relating to his row with Mr Saunders - until the morning of a two-day trial.
Defending, Richard Clinton said Miller’s father, a season ticket for more than 30 years, blamed himself for his son’s actions.
The distraught 42-year-old drove his son to Newcastle’s training ground in Benton to offer his apologies and handed his own season ticket over to a charity.
“He is very ashamed because he blames himself for saying something to Wes Saunders, as he was aware he had played for Newcastle all those years ago,” Mr Clinton said.
“That incident took place between those two. Ross was behind his father and in the atmosphere did not realise what was going on and became agitated and became involved.”
Handing in glowing references, including one from Miller’s former headteacher, Mr Clinton said he had “lost his senses” after Sunderland scored.
“He did not go on to target the Newcastle goalkeeper, but ran on the pitch to celebrate.
“He turned around and was next to the Newcastle goalkeeper, his arm was up in the air, he connected and the goalkeeper went down to the ground.”
District Judge Roger Elsey lifted reporting restrictions on the case, allowing Miller, who has no previous convictions, to be identified.
He ordered his father pay £300 towards court costs and imposed a six-month referral order on Miller.
After a plea from Mr Miller, he changed the terms of the football ban to allow the teenager to watch his home team Spennymoor Town.
Judge Elsey added: “This is a matter of regret that your actions have brought SAFC into disrepute and you have harmed a team that you support.”