An Arsenal football fan today admitted throwing a banana at a player from a rival north London side
Thomas Flint, 23, of Brantwood Gardens, Enfield, launched the fruit at Tottenham Hotspurs' Welsh forward Gareth Bale during the clubs' derby clash at White Hart Lane on 3 March. Tottenham won 2-1.
Today, at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court, carpenter Flint admitted throwing a missile on to the playing area, and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
The court heard that he was a regular at games and on the day was seen shouting: "F*** off, come on then you c****," at Spurs fans.
Flint, who, the court heard, has no interests other than football, was sentenced to a three-year football banning order, fined £250 and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a £25 victim surcharge.
He was supported by family and friends in court.
The hearing had to be adjourned for five minutes while a waiting defendant was removed because he kept laughing and shouting out comments.
District Judge Rebecca Crane told Flint his "disgraceful" actions could have sparked violence at the match.
She said: "You have let yourself down.
"You have good references but you allowed your passion for football and the game to boil over into hostility for a single player and the opposing team.
"This was more than foolish - it was disgraceful behaviour.
"What you threw from such a distance could have hurt someone and it was offensive as well... it could have boiled over into violence."
Hina Rai, prosecuting, said Flint was captured on a police camcorder throwing the banana and behaving in a disorderly manner.
Flint hurled the banana at Bale, who scored the game's opening goal, as he prepared to take a corner.
Flint's solicitor, Christopher Wright, said: "He is a young man who has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
"We have spoken to the Arsenal investigations officer and understand it to be confirmed he is not a known troublemaker and from his record there are no previous convictions in relation to football.
"He has been an avid supporter since childhood and attended many dozens if not hundreds of matches without incident.
"He wishes to apologise through me for his actions and utter foolishness and apologise to the opposing team, he let his own team down by his conduct.
"It is not a racially aggravated offence."
He added: "He really has no particular interest in life other than football."