West Bromwich Albion defender Chris Brunt was pelted with coins by his own club’s fans after their surprise FA Cup fifth-round defeat at Reading on Saturday in an incident described as “barbaric” by his manager.
Brunt had gone over to applaud Albion’s travelling fans following their 3-1 loss to the second-tier side, but the mood turned sour and he went down clutching his face as coins rained down from angry supporters.
Northern Ireland international Brunt then confronted a group of Albion fans before being led away by captain Darren Fletcher after giving his shirt to a supporter.
The 31-year-old said a coin had been thrown at him and was quick to condemn the fans’ behaviour.
“I was walking towards our supporters at the end, and they thought it was okay to throw a coin at their own players. I’m disgusted,” Brunt told BBC Sport.
“If they want to come forward and say they don’t like what they’ve seen then that’s fine. Fans are frustrated we were 1-0 up and lost.
“They paid a lot of money to come, but a small minority spoilt it. There were young kids there. I was absolutely disgusted and ashamed.”
Brunt picked up the coin that hit him to back his claims and he added: “I’ve still got the 50-pence coin. I spotted a little girl in the front row and wanted to give her my shirt.
“There’s absolutely no excuse for that and no place for it in football. I’ve been here a long time and I’ve loved my time here and that’s the first time I’ve been ashamed of our supporters.”
Albion manager Tony Pulis called on the police to find the guilty party, while also highlighting the growing danger of fans becoming stoked up by social media and then letting their emotions run wild when their team fails.
“We have seen an incident where a lad who has played over 300 games for this club could have had his eye out,” he said.
“He has a cut and it’s not too far away from his eye, it’s an inch away from striking him in his eye and if that happens we’re talking (about) a very, very serious problem.
“It’s barbaric. That’s not acceptable. West Bromwich Albion is a fantastic football club, a famous club, but you can’t condone that.
“I think the police have to get involved in this. I don’t think you can allow that to go by. That’s criminal, and I mean criminal.
“This has got to be one of the worst things I have seen. It’s the way the game is going.