A football club’s number one fan has been banished from the stands for “mercilessly winding up” a Premier League manager.
Crawley Town fanatic Paul Prendergast spent most of Saturday’s friendly against Crystal Palace taunting opposition boss Ian Holloway from his seat just yards from the touchline.
But after Palace lost 3-0 to the lower league club, a furious Holloway complained to Crawley,which has now banned Mr Prendergast for four home games.
Yesterday Mr Prendergast resigned his position as chairman of the Crawley Town Supporters’ Alliance, saying it would “cause too many issues” for him to stay.
But fellow fans said his behaviour was “just Paul being Paul”.
Ian Townsend, spokesmanfor the Crawley Town Supporters’ Alliance, said Mr Prendergast had been banned for “pushing Holloway’s buttons”.
He said: “Paul has been sat in that same seat behind the opposition manager for the last 16 years and to be honest he does tend to wind them up mercilessly.
“On Saturday he could see that Ian Holloway was getting hot under the collar when Palace started losing so he started making some observations about the quality of their team.
“Some other fans might have been ribbing Holloway about his West Country accent but that wasn’t Paul.
“The problem was that he worked out which button to press, pushed it and then wouldn’t remove his finger - until it all went wrong.”
Mr Holloway withstood Mr Prendergast’s taunts for most of the match until Crawley’s third goal went in, when he finally snapped.
According to fans, the manager whipped round to face his tormentor and yelled “Why don’t you shut up?”
When the final whistle blew, the enraged Palace boss marched straight to the stewards and demanded that Mr Prendergast be punished.
A spokesman for Crawley Town said: “Ian Holloway made the complaint and the club followed it up.
“He wasn’t happy and it was noted by the stewards and the head of security. Mr Prendergast was spoken to and subsequently banned for four games.
“We had a duty to act to preserve the integrity of the club.”