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Crystal Palace ban Cantona masks


Selhurst Park, 25 January 1995, 9.00pm. The moment one of the most shocking events on an English football pitch was witnessed, as Eric Cantona hurled himself in to the crowd to karate kick a fan.

Cantona had been sent off and Matthew Simmons, a member of the National Front, came forward 11 rows to shout abuse at our striker. Palace fans testified he shouted: “Fuck off back to France, you French motherfucker” and “French bastard”. Cantona told the courtroom that Simmons had said horrible things about his mum too. Simmons denied saying anything “offensive or rude”.

Simmons had attended British National Party and National Front rallies and three years before the incident with Cantona he was convicted of attempted violent robbery when he attacked an attendant in a Croydon petrol station. He assaulted Sri Lankan-born Lewis Rajanayagam with a three-foot spanner, striking him in the shoulder rather than the head only because the sales assistant took evasive action. “I was absolutely terrified,” Rajanayagam said. “I thought he was going to kill me. Simmons went for my head. If it had hit me there, I would probably have had a broken skull.”

At Simmons’ trial following the Cantona incident, for using threatening language and behaviour, he attacked the prosecution counsel after being found guilty, leaping over a bench and executing a flying kick of his own. He was sentenced to seven days in jail, but only served 24 hours.

Whilst plenty of people attacked Cantona for his actions, he did get some support. Jimmy Greaves said: “We’ve heard a lot about Cantona’s responsibilities. What about analysing the responsibility of Simmons and every foul-mouthed yob who thinks his £10 admission gives him the right to say what he likes to a man… to abuse, taunt, spit and behave in a way that would get you locked up if you repeated it in the high street.”

John Barnes said: “It’s very ironic that it took a white Frenchman to bring home to the nation the issue of racism in football.”

Simmons had his season ticket taken off him as a result of the incident and was banned from the ground. He now goes to watch Fulham instead. Three years ago, he was found guilty of assaulting his son’s football coach, after spitting at him and punching him.

When Cantona reflected back on his career he said: “I have a lot of good moments but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan.”

The last time United played at Selhurst Park, in March 2005, our travelling fans showed up in Cantona masks, and those spotted were ejected from the ground.

As was reported to Reds Away, a Palace spokeswoman said: “I have been advised by our stadium manager that no supporter is permitted to cover their face.”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Fletch™ says:

    So pathetic from CP. Hahahha! Bet even Tony Pulis is embarrassed by this move :lol:

    They can’t ban chants.

    90+ minutes of FIVE CANTONAS then! :twisted:

  2. Tommy says:

    How petty Palace haha, I must say this kick is one of my top football memories, well done Eric!

  3. NBI Red 21 says:

    I really hope Cantona himself goes to this match. That would be another good kick in the nuts. Childish from CP, seriously, how incredibly churlish, but it gets them in the news.

  4. NBI Red 21 says:

    Fans should weak kung fu outfits instead, would definitely wear a Cantona shirt just to watch Palace cry.

  5. Fletch™ says:

    Memories of the match:

    Andy Cole, tidy Jan signing, got only his 2nd United start
    David May scored his 1st United goal and looked to have won it
    Eric Cantona got a straight red after ref Alan Wilkie lost control of the match
    Southgate got a late equalizer

    Right, and the ABU media spent the next 2 years writing about Eric’s red card which pretty much make SkyB a success ;)

    #Banter :lol:

  6. Fletch™ says:

    Breaking News:

    Rooney: “The future is bright for #mufc, this is still one of the worlds leading clubs, we have seen this with the signing of Juan Mata.”

    Rooney New Contract:
    - New deal commits striker to United until June 2019
    - Ambassadorial role after retirement

  7. Rukky E. Atebefia says:

    Lol I been really busy all week but this was just too hilarious not talk about, totally wrong move but understandable. Kung fu memories on my mind, bring on pulis though;at least absurd wing play should work against palace. Hoping for the best tomorrow

  8. Tommy says:


    Ambasidorial role, thats taking the piss lol but oh well

  9. Fletch™ says:


    Cheers mate.
    Still suggest we sell him to the virus for BANK well before he gets near 249 ;)

  10. m09538061 says:

    Eric assault 8 months – Hazzard assault 3 games.
    EXACTLY the same offence.
    FA refuse to explain difference between two ?

  11. keanoisdaman says:

    @m09538061…..I love big eric ….but to say it was EXACTLY the same offence is a load of bollox.

  12. m09538061 says:

    What i meant was Hazzard should of got a a longer ban.
    Also I think its all bollocks from the Palace fans because they did not have any respect or accept the bloke Cantona kicked as a fan.Just more low life in football stirring shit.


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