Dover Athletic striker Inih Effiong gives his account of events following alleged racist abuse at Hartlepool United
Angry Dover Athletic striker Inih Effiong has given his version of events following the shocking scenes and alleged racist abuse suffered at Victoria Park on Saturday.
After a fairly underwhelming opening 35-minutes, Effiong was brought down inside the penalty area by Hartlepool United defender Aaron Cunningham with the referee quickly pointing to the spot.
The Dover forward claimed it was a ‘nailed on’ penalty but the Poolies in attendance felt otherwise as tempers started to flare.
But things started to really come to a head once Effiong dispatched his spot kick to give Dover the lead and celebrated in front of the Town End.
“Even before the penalty I was getting abuse but just your usual stick with people effing and blinding,” Effiong revealed.
“They were calling me all sorts of names which you just store in the bank.
“The penalty was a definite penalty, nailed on and then the boos came. When I scored I went over and did a silence gesture and cupped my ear which was just like, if you can give it out then take it back as well.”
What followed was a disturbing turn of events that have since prompted an ongoing police investigation with a 43-year-old man being arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order and released under investigation.
“I had a burger thrown at me and mayonnaise went up my arm then there were monkey gestures and I was being called a black **** and all that,” Effiong recalled.
“Gus [Mafuta] and their players went over and then he got abused as well which sparked him off. We just wanted to get on with the game because we had the lead and wanted to see it out.
“It was really upsetting and I’ve never experienced anything like it in my career, you hear bits of racism now and again which is never nice but it’s never been that blatant which was awful and not on at all.”
Following the opening goal, there was an eight minute stoppage in play as both sets of players and coaching staff gathered on the halfway line engaged in conversation with each other and the match officials.
As the minutes passed by, the crowd became more agitated as doubts started to be cast as to whether the game would restart.
It finally did as the fourth official held up his board for 11-minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half.
“It was a very emotional game because our manager was saying to us that we could walk off and we contemplated it but being 1-0 up, we didn’t want to come all the way back up there on a Tuesday night and potentially get racially abused again,” Effiong continued.
“It was embarrassing and we thought if we actually wanted to go back out there after half-time.
“The boos were ringing out which was ridiculous, I felt like I was in a different country, I felt like it was all of the fans. I know it wasn’t all of them but it just felt like that because of the boos from all over.
“It took togetherness for us to get the win and show it’s not on and football always wins at the end of the day. We used what happened to spur us on and I’m glad that we got the win.”
The rest of the match seemed to come secondary to what had happened involving Effiong, Ricky Modeste, Mafuta and several other players from both sides at the end of the first half.
Pools had a series of blatant penalties turned down which saw Ryan Donaldson and manager Craig Hignett sent off for dissent.
Steve Rigg then wrapped up the points late on as he bundled the ball over the line. Substitute Nicky Featherstone was given his marching orders again for dissent in the aftermath.
The disappointing 2-0 defeat for Pools has barely been a talking point since Saturday as the alleged racially charged abuse took precedent.
Effiong’s strike at The Vic makes him the current join top scorer in the National League with seven goals so far this season.
But even that wasn’t on the player’s mind as he hit out at those allegedly responsible.
Effiong commented on TalkSport: “My message to those people would be just what is going through your head at that point to think that it’s okay and think you’re going to get away with it?
“I don’t know if it’s embedded in them growing up or whatever, it’s confusing to think but we didn’t let it affect us.
“You lot are stupid if you think racially abusing someone will get you somewhere. It’s not on and these people should get a criminal record as a result, not just a lifetime ban.
“If they have a criminal record and they’re trying to get a job and they don’t get it because they see they’ve been done for racist abuse then they’ll feel rejected just like us black players feel rejected when we step onto the pitch and get racially abused.”
Harltepool are still awaiting the verdict from the Football Association’s disciplinary process following the events that took place on Saturday.
The club will almost certainly be punished for what was a sad day for all connected with Hartlepool United and the town.