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22nd May 2023

Hero West Ham fan given standing ovation by home crowd after fighting off thugs

Charlie Herbert

Hero West ham fan knollsy

He got a hero’s welcome on Sunday

West Ham fan ‘Knollsy’ was given a standing ovation at by the Hammers crowd at their side’s home game against Leeds on Sunday.

Chris Knolls, known as ‘Knollsy’, was labelled a hero on Thursday after footage was shared on social media of him fighting off hooligans at AZ Alkmaar.

After the Hammers beat the Dutch side 1-0 to qualify for the Europa Conference League final, Alkmaar hooligans tried to get in to the area where West Ham fans and the family of some of the players were sat.

But Knolls stood at the top of the stairs to the stand, fending off the hooded men.

On Sunday, West Ham played their first game since the incident, when they took on Leeds in the Premier League at the London Stadium.

And the thousands of Hammers fans in attendance gave Knolls a hero’s welcome.

A fan at the game tweeted: “Turns out Knollsy sits behind me, he just took his seat and the whole stand applauded him.”

A second added: “Knollsy has just received a standing ovation on his way to his seat to the right of the press box.”

A third posted: “West Ham supporters in the upper tier of the west end applaud Knollsy as he takes his seat.”

Speaking out for the first time since the incident, Knolls said he was “no hero.”

The electrician told the Mirror that he doesn’t like “bullies” and that it was obvious the hooligans were “intent on causing trouble and I did not want them to get to those behind us”.

He added: “I know what they were intent on doing and was not going to let it happen.”

Knoll told the publication he “just decided I wasn’t going to let them come up”.

He continued: “I just thought the best form of defence would be to get to the top of the stairs where they were coming up and just stood there and tried to stop them. I know they were swinging punches and I just did my best to stand there and take it.”

Knoll said his wife Karen was “not surprised” he had stood up to protect women and children as she “knows what I am like”.

AZ Alkmaar has since apologised for the violence via a statement, which read: “While everyone hoped for a historic European match, it turned into a pitch-black evening due to the events occurring at the referee’s final whistle. It turned into a night to reflect on with shame.

“Not because of the football game played, but because of the behaviour of some attending. Unfortunately, we cannot use the word ‘supporters’ for these people.

“What happened is beyond all bounds. The club again sincerely apologises to West Ham and the thousands of well-minded AZ supporters who have also been inconvenienced by the misconduct.

“In the coming period AZ will – together with the police, Public Prosecution Service, and Alkmaar’s municipality – evaluate exactly what happened, how it could have happened and what needs to be improved from now on. It is clear that things need to be improved.

“Part of the evaluation is a thorough review of all available footage so that appropriate consequences may follow for those responsible for this outrageous behaviour.

“AZ is a civilised club where sportsmanship and norms and values are paramount. The club will do everything possible, together with the authorities involved, to identify these persons and to take appropriate measures.”

Uefa has said they are awaiting full reports before taking disciplinary action against AZ and their supporters.

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