AFC Fylde threaten to report National League North rivals Chester to the police and the FA after a dressing-room bust-up last week that saw their 67-year-old kit-man allegedly abused by the home side’s assistant manager Colin Woodthorpe
- EXCLUSIVE: AFC Fylde consider reporting Chester to the police and the FA
- The club accuse Chester’s assistant manager Colin Woodthorpe of abuse
- Fylde’s 67-year-old kit-man Steve Cowell was the alleged target of the rant
- Woodthorpe was previously an employee at AFC Fylde before joining Chester
- Up to 20 Chester fans were attempting to storm the changing room post-match
AFC Fylde are threatening to report Chester to the police and the FA following an extraordinary dressing-room bust-up after their National League North clash last weekend.
Sportsmail has learned that Fylde are alleging that up to 20 Chester fans attempted to storm their changing room following their 1-0 win at the Deva Stadium, and that their 67-year-old kitman was abused by the home side’s assistant manager, Colin Woodthorpe — a former Fylde coach.
Fylde kitman Steve Cowell told Sportsmail last night that Woodthorpe repeatedly swore at him and called him ‘dog’s breath’ in the away dressing room, before coming at him ‘like a raging bull’ as he tried to leave the ground in a van.
Woodthorpe spent seven years as a coach at Fylde before being sacked by them two years ago, which led to him successfully suing the club for unfair dismissal. The 53-year-old clashed again with his former employers earlier this summer when the club reported him to the FA for allegedly posting abusive messages on social media, but no action was taken.
Chester concede there was an incident involving their fans after a heated game featuring three red cards before Fylde scored a last-minute winner, but dispute that fans entered the dressing room. Woodthorpe is understood to have admitted to swearing at Cowell, but has denied charging at him.
‘I opened the dressing-room door to start loading the van and about 20 Chester fans piled in, trying to get at us,’ Cowell told Sportsmail. ‘Luckily there were three police officers there, and they dragged them away before they could do much damage. The police did a great job.
Colin Woodthorpe, here pictured working for AFC Fylde, has been accused of abusing a kitman
‘I loaded the van, then went back to the dressing room to tidy up when Woodthorpe came at me out of nowhere. He just kept shouting, “f*** off, f*** off, f*** off, dog’s breath!” It was terrifying, but again the police pushed him away and shut the dressing-room door.
‘I never leave a ground until I’ve swept the dressing room, but the police told me to leave for my own safety. I got to the van and he came at me again like a raging bull. He tried to get in the passenger seat and was punching the van. He was fuming, 45 minutes after the game.
‘I was badly shaken up. I had to stop on the way home to compose myself. I still feel vulnerable. I’m 67 and have grandkids. I’ve worked in football my entire life and have never seen anything like this.’
Chester sources concede that Woodthorpe did confront Cowell after the game, but insist the altercation took place outside the dressing room. The former Chester striker is understood to have been angry at Cowell for opening a fire door, which he felt caused the initial flare-up by enabling the home fans to get near the visitors. Chester’s safety officer has also reported to the club that Cowell breached protocol by opening the fire door.
Steve Cowell, here pictured while employed at Preston, has detailed the abuse allegations
Woodthorpe, who also played for Norwich in the Premier League, told the club that he called Cowell a ‘dogsbody’ and that he followed him to his van as he was unhappy at the state in which the visitors had left the dressing room.
Rather than punching the vehicle, Woodthorpe says he tapped the side of the van to get Cowell’s attention and ask why he was leaving given the messy condition of the changing room.
Fylde officials were unhappy at aspects of their treatment throughout the afternoon at Chester, particularly the fact that the home fans repeatedly abused their manager James Rowe with offensive chants in the presence of his family.