A 14–YEAR–OLD Hartlepool pupil is officially the youngest football hooligan in Britain after he was slapped with a three-year banning order by magistrates.
The schoolboy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was grounded at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court after justices heard about a catalogue of disorder at matches.
He is now barred from every single football stadium in England and Wales.
So severe is the ban that he has also been ordered to surrender his passport every time the England national team play abroad.
The Hartlepool United fan, who was part of a gang of young football hooligans “intent on causing trouble and abuse at matches”, was caught:
l Abusing rival fans at home and away games;
l Involved in a town centre brawl;
l Goading shoppers and then opposition supporters at an away game.
Detective Constable Jamie Smith, from Cleveland Police’s Football Intelligence Unit, said: “This means that this boy from Hartlepool is currently the youngest subject of a banning order in the UK.
“We applied for this ban as a preventative measure because we wanted to remove a 14-year-old that is keen on contributing to violence and disorder connected with football.
“Over the years Hartlepool has caused us very little problems because the majority of supporters go to enjoy themselves.
“It’s unfortunate that we became aware, and are aware, of a small minority that go to games for confrontation rather than football.”
The court heard how the teenager was caught misbehaving five times at separate fixtures in a 13-month period.
He was spotted by police goading away supporters during one game at Victoria Park, and was then nabbed “seeking disorder” after a planned confrontation with a gang of rival fans in Hartlepool town centre.
The same yob was then caught at two more home games, once inside the stadium again goading visiting supporters and at another fixture when he was actively involved in trouble.
He was also involved in trouble at a Pools away game where he taunted fans and shoppers as he made his way to the game.
The town youngster appeared at court with his parents and apologised to the bench for his actions, saying: “I’m sorry I won’t do it again.”
His father then added: “He was caught up and easily led in a group of other youths when he used to go to football matches.
“Since he stopped going he’s actually started knocking around, as the saying goes, with his schoolmates and his nose is now clean.
“I think it was a one off thing.”
Chairman of the bench Keith Gorton told the youth that he would be banned from all regulated UK matches and must not enter a relevant town or city where Pools are playing, or the area around Victoria Park, four hours before or six hours after a game.
When England play games abroad he must also surrender his passport.
“We hope that, based on what your mam and dad have said, that this is something you can put behind you and that you are not led by other people in the future, and that we don’t see you in court again,” Mr Gorton told him.