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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 25

6 February 2013

Football needs to get its act in order and start protecting the players a little bit harder when they're out there on the pitch. It's a worrying trend to see so many so-called 'fans' invading the playing surface, and as a problem it shouldn't be taken lightly.

This week we saw a supporter run on at Coventry City before being tripped by a player, but that wasn't the worst incident. Down at the Priestfield Stadium an unruly youth jumped onto the pitch and actually attacked young Wycombe Wanderers 'keeper Jordan Archer.

It was a disgrace, and the loanee from Tottenham Hotspur was very lucky not to be seriously injured. The invader jumped onto his back before any stewards or police had time to react, and that shouldn't ever be allowed to happen. I know that financial cutbacks have affected the budgets for security at certain clubs, but players should still be entitled to feel safe on the field of play.

Is it going to take a fatal injury to a player for something to be done about fans that run onto the pitch? The hooligan at Gillingham could easily have been carrying a weapon.

I couldn't really believe what I was seeing, and it's the latest in a long line of similar incidents. I recall two fans running onto the field at Morecambe when they played Dagenham and Redbridge recently, and a Leeds 'fan' was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail for attacking Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.

It's becoming a regular occurrence, and we have to quickly put a stop to it.

Talking of goalkeepers, it was interesting to see Oxford United sign Luke McCormick last week. He is the former Plymouth Argyle player you might remember, who was imprisoned for causing death by dangerous driving in October 2008.

The acquisition has split the Oxford fans down the middle. I can understand why some people may disagree with Luke McCormick's signing but I believe it is right that he's been given a second chance in football.

If the 29-year-old was resuming his career at a local supermarket or something like that, nobody would be making a fuss, but because he's a professional footballer it's deemed to be different, and that's a little unfair.

His actions were awful, and it was tragic that people died as a result of his recklessness, but he has served his time in jail now and has to be allowed to get on with his life.

McCormick will live with the guilt of what he did, every day for as long as he breathes. He will never forget the damage he's caused. It's time now for him to try and resume his career, and I hope that people will allow him to do so.

One player that didn't get signed by a new club in January was Port Vale's top scorer Tom Pope, and that surprised me greatly. It is fantastic news that he committed his long term future to Micky Adams this week, but I really did expect somebody from a higher level to take a punt on him. Having scored 25 goals and counting already, he couldn't have done any more to secure himself a bumper transfer.

With Pope alongside Lee Hughes from now until the summer I can see Vale kicking on and cruising to promotion. They have goals between them, and I can't see things drying up.

Well done too, to Southend United for beating npower League 1 side Leyton Orient in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Southern Area Final first leg. They rode their luck in the first half and had 'keeper Paul Smith to thank for a string of saves, but by the time the final whistle blew, I thought Paul Sturrock's side thoroughly deserved the 1-0 win.

It's not over yet, and there's a lot of work to be done before the fans can celebrate reaching Wembley, but I'd make them favourites now.

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