Cantona Crystal Palace fan in court over alleged football attack

This Is Local London: Matthew Simmons was famously attacked by Eric Cantona Matthew Simmons was famously attacked by Eric Cantona

The Crystal Palace fan who former Manchester United ace Eric Cantona famously Kung-Fu kicked in 1995 attacked the coach at a children’s football game, a court heard.

Matthew Simmons, 36, from Thornton Heath, appeared at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The Crystal Palace fan is accused of reigning down blows on salesman Stuart Cooper in August last year during his son’s football match.

According to the prosecution barrister, Michael Logsdon , Mr Simmons attacked the coach because of a long standing grudge he held against him regarding his son’s exclusion from a team Mr Cooper had previously been in charge of.

Mr Simmons rose to notoriety in 1995 when he was attacked by Cantona at Selhurst Park after allegedly hurling abuse at the player.

It is Mr Cooper’s discovery of this in 2004 which is alleged to have caused “bad blood” between the two men and led to Mr Simmons’ son being excluded from the team.

Giving evidence, Mr Cooper said: “He just came from nowhere and he was standing right in front of me.

“I just said 'hello'.

“He came up in front of me and said 'outside'.

“He just carried on saying outside.

“I took that as to mean out of the football ground. He looked like he wanted to take me outside, and sort of lay into me.”

It is then alleged after Mr Cooper walked away to the other end of the pitch Mr Simmons followed him, spat at him and called him ‘scum’.

Mr Cooper added: “The next thing I know there is all these punches flying from everywhere.

When asked by Mr Logsdon who was throwing the punches Mr Cooper said: “Matthew Simmons.

“It just seemed to come as a barrage.”

During the attack Mr Cooper suffered injuries to his eyes, nose, arm and chest and had to take a week of work, costing him £300.

Mr Simmons denies assault causing actual bodily harm and claims the attack was a pre-emptive strike, carried out because he feared Mr Cooper was about to attack him.

The trial continues.

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