During Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup at the hands of Liverpool in 2006, Alan Smith broke his leg when trying to block a shot from John Arne Riise. After receiving treatment on the pitch, he was stretchered off. Whilst sections of the crowd applauded him off, it wasn’t long before the word’s to Riise’s chant were changed by the home crowd. “John Arne Riise, ooh, ahh, I wanna know, how did you break Smith’s leg?”
An ambulance took Smith away from the ground and the BBC reported that this was attacked by Liverpool fans.
The two paramedics – both Liverpool fans – were described as being “horrified” by the hostility shown once the culprits realised the occupants of the ambulance were Alan Smith and Manchester United’s club doctor Mike Stone.
A spokesman for the Merseyside ambulance trust confirmed the attack: “It did not result in any delay in transferring the player to hospital but the trust cannot condone this type of behaviour while administering emergency treatment.”
Liverpool also condemned the behaviour of the fans that did it, claiming they weren’t real supporters.
“These people aren’t real fans of football. The actions of a few idiots should not overshadow the efforts of all involved to make sure Alan received the best treatment as soon as possible.”
The BBC also reported that Smith: was given a general anaesthetic before he left the stadium so was not aware of the attack on the ambulance.
Despite winning the game that day, the fans soured their reputation, not only for ambushing Smith’s ambulance, but for shitting in paper cups and throwing it them at the United fans.
Liverpool stadium and operations manager Ged Poynton again expressed his regret that their fans would behave this way.
‘We hold our hands up as a club,” he said. “We deplore what certain fans have done. I use the word coward very reservedly but I class anyone who wants to throw a coin or something else when they are leaving as cowards. I am ashamed to admit in one case excrement was thrown. How low can you get? We did what we could, we tried to brush people down and compensate those involved.”
However, Smith, who was almost unconscious in the back of the ambulance, has decided to paint a different picture of what happened in an interview today.
“I was disappointed the story blew up about rocking an ambulance,” he said. “That was never the case. Liverpool and Man United did everything to get me to the hospital and everything in their power to make sure I was OK. I thank them for that. Sometimes it’s nice to say that because people have read that they were rocking my ambulance and throwing stuff at it, which is so untrue.”
Read the BBC’s report on Liverpool fans attacking Smith’s ambulance
Read The Guardian’s report on Liverpool fans attacking Smith’s ambulance
Read The Daily Mail’s report on Liverpool fans attacking Smith’s ambulance
Read Liverpool Daily Post’s report on Liverpool fans attacking Smith’s ambulance
Read Manchester Evening News’ report on Liverpool fans attacking Smith’s ambulance