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'I'm ashamed and I feel I have let everyone down'
A KNUTSFORD football fan who ran on to the pitch and confronted Rio Ferdinand at the end of the Manchester derby has told the Guardian how sorry he is after being spared a spell in prison.
Matthew Stott, of Southfields, was handed a eight-week jail term – suspended for a year – and told to carry out 120 hours of community service as well as being put under a night time curfew for three months.
District Judge Paul Richardson told him he was ‘lucky’ he had not been sent to jail when he appeared in court on Friday, January 4.
But Stott, 21, told the Guardian on Tuesday that he was ashamed of his actions and confessed to not remembering anything of the incident after drinking heavily before the December 9 match, which was beamed to millions around the world.
As a result of the incident he has lost his job as a gardener, which saw him tend to Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton’s property.
Sir Bobby has since said that Stott was a ‘nice lad’ and he couldn’t understand what had happened at the match.
“All I remember of the incident is telling my dad that I was going to the toilet and the next thing I remember is seeing Joe Hart and Rio Ferdinand,” he said.
“One thing I do remember is seeing Rio Ferdinand celebrating with his teammates and I was just staring at him and because I was drunk it felt like he was intimidating me.
“That’s not an excuse, I’m ashamed and I’ve let my family, my girlfriend and my friends down. I want to apologise to them and also Manchester City and the FA and my former boss.
“I used to do Sir Bobby’s garden every week and did it for three years. I just want to apologise to him because he has said some nice things about me. I’d rather do it to his face but I’m not sure he would want anything to do with me.”
Stott added he was finding it tough being out of work as a result of the incident.
“Someone put my full address on Twitter so I had to call the police and they’ve had to put an amber warning over my house,” he said.
“I know I shouldn’t have done what I did but it’s just gone too far in my eyes. I’ve had people contacting my family and my girlfriend and I had someone threaten me when I went to the shop.
“I see people and they recognise me and they cross the road and they all think I’m a yob and a thug but I’m not. People are saying I’m a disgrace to Knutsford and I should leave town but they have no right to say that, they don’t know me.
“I need to prove to people that I’m not the man who I was that day. If I’d seen someone else do that I’d have though they were an idiot. I’ve had jobs since the age of 14, I’ve worked in pubs and been a pot washer at the Roebuck, Pastiche, Red Cow and the Wine Bar and it’s boring not having anything to do.”
Manchester City withdrew Stott’s season ticket but he told the Guardian he was still paying it off after buying it on finance.
“I’ve got great memories of watching City and I’ve just spoilt it,” he added.