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Boy left 'heartbroken' after St Mary's eviction
It was supposed to be the perfect Christmas present.
But ten-year-old Hampshire lad Jordan Barnett was left “heartbroken”
The young Arsenal fan from Ringwood left in tears at half-time with his parents, Adrian and Sharleen, and 14-year-old sister Jessica, after they were ejected by stewards who feared for their safety when Saints fans began abusing them.
They had been enjoying the first half from the Family Enclosure, but began receiving verbal abuse after cheering Arsenal’s equaliser shortly before the interval.
Jordan, who attends Poulner Junior School, was wearing his Arsenal under-11s tracksuit.
Sharleen, a care home worker, said: “It was the first game we had ever been to and we thought it would be a nice Christmas present for Jordan to watch Arsenal play Southampton with all of us.
“We couldn’t afford to go all the way to London, so as soon as the tickets went on sale for the game at St Mary’s, I rang up the ticket office.
“I explained I wanted four Arsenal tickets and was offered seats in the Family Enclosure, without being told that was only for Saints fans.
“Jordan was loving it, he got to see his favourite players like Theo Walcott, so it broke his little heart when we were made to leave.
“I could understand it if we were kicking off and shouting abuse, but we were even cheering for Saints at times.
“Jordan also has a Saints kit but plays for Arsenal under-11s and under-12s so was wearing his club tracksuit.
“I offered to turn his top inside out and said we’d watch the rest of the game without saying a word, but the stewards said we had to leave for our own safety. We couldn’t believe it.”
Adrian, a self-employed gardener, coaches Ringwood Town’s junior teams.
He said: “I’ve been involved in football at grassroots level for seven years and I couldn’t take the youngsters I coach to St Mary’s knowing the adults behave like that.
“I felt very intimidated and Jordan’s confidence has been knocked. I’m devastated I put him in a potentially dangerous situation.
“Football needs to give hatred the boot.”
No one at Saints was available to comment.