Masked men drive a HEARSE onto the pitch during a pre-season friendly

Police are investigating chaos in Gateshead as masked men drive two cars – including a HEARSE – onto a football pitch

  • The scores were locked at 1-1 when the unexpected pitch invasion took place
  • Gateshead confirmed that the game had been called off by the match referee
  • The non-league side were recently in action against near neighbours Newcastle 

Police are investigating an incident at a Gateshead pre-season friendly against local rivals Dunston, with the match abandoned at half-time after a hearse was left in the centre of the pitch.

One on-looker captured the bizarre moment the hearse appeared on pitch, with fans stunned by the events that unfolded. 

The hearse had been driven onto the pitch at Dunston’s UTS Stadium along with a second car, with both vehicles spinning around in circles while leaflets were thrown from the windows in apparent protest.

Eventually masked men left the hearse and joined the second car, which was driven off the pitch and out of the stadium.

Another clip reportedly shows the masked men fleeing the stadium, smashing through a barrier on the way. 

Gateshead – managed by Mike Williamson (pictured) – had a pre-season friendly abandoned prematurely 

Two cars entered the pitch as Gateshead took on Dunston with one throwing fliers out onto the pitch

Masked mean leapt out of the hearse and climbed into the other car before it sped away from the field

Naturally, the game was brought to a close, with just over 45 minutes of action at the UTS Stadium between the local rivals. 

Gateshead later tweeted: ‘Due to an incident on the pitch occurring shortly after half time, tonight’s match has been abandoned by the referee.’ 

The unexpected pitch invasion came just after the break, with the teams locked at 1-1 in the pre-season clash. 

With the match having been called up, fans were reportedly escorted out of the ground, with police arriving on the scene.

A helicopter also arrived at the UTS Stadium.

‘It was surreal,’ one eye-witness told the Daily Star. ‘As my wife and I were driving down, there were these three guys with snoods high up and hats on about 500 yards from the stadium.

‘We get into the stadium and look across to the right and those three guys are there. The referee blows the half-time whistle and the players walk in, then one of the guys tried to open the blue railing around the pitch to get on. ‘Open the gate, open the gate’ they were shouting.

‘There is a bit of an altercation between two guys trying to close the gate, but they were adamant to open the gate. Then the first car comes flying out. There are loads of people around, kids, men, women. It goes flying through the fence onto the pitch, starts doing doughnuts, then the hearse comes out.’

Gateshead have already welcomed Newcastle to their own ground in the off-season before the shocking events at Dunston’s ground

‘At that level of football, you don’t get security, so it took about 10 minutes before police came, then there were seven or eight police cars and a helicopter. It was scary.’ 

Newcastle Chronicle write Matty Hewitt added on Twitter: ‘Two cars driven onto the pitch with masked men getting out and leaving a hearse on the pitch,’ describing the event as a ‘terrifying experience with plenty of children about’. 

And Tynesiders fan Archie Clark told the BBC that the invaders had ‘apparently barged through the gate from the car park’, before breaking through railings skirting the pitch. 

Northumbria Police released a statement to Mail Sport, which read: ‘ Police have launched an investigation following a disturbance during a football match in Gateshead.

Shortly before 8.20pm today (Friday) it was reported that two cars drove onto the pitch during half-time of the Dunston UTC v Gateshead match at Dunston Football Club on Wellington Road.

Following this, both cars – a Subaru and a Hearse – have proceeded to drive around in circles and a group of males wearing balaclavas have then exited onto the pitch. They have then proceeded to throw a number of leaflets onto the pitch, before driving away from the area in the Subaru before police arrival. The Hearse was left abandoned on the pitch.

Officers attended the scene within minutes where nobody was reported to have been injured or threatened.

An investigation was immediately launched – and a number of enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances surrounding the report, and locate those involved.

Disorder will not be tolerated in the community, and anyone found to be involved will be dealt with robustly.

While enquiries are at an early stage, it is believed that those involved are known to each other and there was no wider risk to the public.

Eddie Howe watched on as his side recovered from two goals down to beat Gateshead 3-2

Elliot Anderson caught the eye when switched to centre-forward in the second half

We are also aware that images and videos of the disturbance are being circulated on social media. Members of the public are urged not to speculate, and are encouraged to share any footage with police to assist the investigation.

Police remain in the area to carry out enquiries and offer reassurance to the public – and those with concerns are encouraged to speak with an officer on duty.

Dunston was not the first side to take on Gateshead in the off-season with another local side in Newcastle taking on the the Tynesiders at the Gateshead International Stadium .

The Magpies cut it close, though, with the favourites going in at the break 2-0 down before goals from Elliot Anderson, departing Allan Saint-Maximin and Jay Turner-Cooke sparing Eddie Howe’s side’s blushes with a 3-2 win. 

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