A man has apologised for his role in the “chaos” that followed the pitch invasion of a Melbourne A-League game.
During a police interview days after the incident on December 17, Cameron Neubacher said he regretted joining the fracas that caused more than $200,000 in damage.
“I saw the Melbourne City keeper throw a flare back into the stands and people start running onto the field,” he said.
“I don’t know why I joined in, I thought it would be fun.”
Neubacher’s comments were read to the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday as 36 people charged over the pitch invasion were called to appear on charges.
He, alongside Grigorios Theodoropoulos, Muhammed Kutlu, Jack Hadrick, Hector Vigor, Nicholas Conforti, Jake White and Benjamin Rogers pleaded guilty to a charge of disrupting the sporting event.
Neubacher pleaded guilty to an additional charge of discharging a missile after he was caught on CCTV throwing a bucket of sand that narrowly missed a group of people.
Thirty-eight people were charged as part of Operation Astute – the investigation into the mass pitch invasion during an A-League match at AAMI Park on December 17, 2022. Picture: Victoria Police
He would later tell police he saw buckets and objects flying through the air during the “chaos” and only picked the bucket up to “throw it out of the way”.
Several other men charged over their alleged roles, including Alex Agelopoulos, who became the face of the mayhem after allegedly striking Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover in the head with a bucket, indicated through their lawyers the charges would soon “resolve”.
Mr Glover, the court was told, would later suffer a concussion and require five stitches for a laceration to his face.
Alex Agelopoulos was charged after allegedly assaulting Tom Glover. Picture: Victoria Police.
Outlining the police case, a prosecutor told the court that police were in attendance at the derby match between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory after receiving intelligence of possible unrest.
Spectators had planned to walk out at the 20-minute mark to protest Football Federation Australia’s deal to host the next three grand finals at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium, she told the court.
Instead, at 8.06pm, about 120 to 150 people from the northern stand stormed the pitch after a lit flare was thrown onto the pitch and Mr Glover accidentally threw it back into the stand.
“The estimated damage bill was $209,250.80,” she told the court.
The prosecutor told the court those charged included members from hooligan groups Horda and OSM.
Glover (right) suffered a concussion and laceration to his face. Picture: Supplied
Bottles, flares, metal buckets and broken stadium chairs were thrown about as the game was abandoned by officials after 22 minutes.
Multiple people, including referee Alex King, Mr Glover, a camera man and a security officer, were injured.
Melbourne City was handed a record $550,000 fine over the incident, while 38 people, including at least one child, were charged over the incident.
Police and thousands of supporters later condemned the behaviour on what was called football’s “night of shame”.
Neubacher, Theodoropoulos, Kutlu, Hadrick, Vigor, Conforti, White and Rogers are expected to be sentenced by magistrate Rosemary Falla on Wednesday afternoon.
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