UTS Dunston was responding to the bizarre scenes at half-time of its pre-season ‘derby’ fixture with neighbours Gateshead, at the club’s Wellington Road ground last night.
The black limousine and a Subaru car were driven onto the playing surface by masked men who scattered leaflets across the pitch from one of the vehicles as they were spun in circles.
Balaclava-clad men then left the hearse and got into the other car, which then drove out of the UTS Stadium, at about 8.20pm last night (Friday July 21).
The hearse was left in situ on the pitch as the decision was taken to abandon the match.
Northumbria Police said it has launched an investigation into the incident but confirmed no-one was reported to have been injured or threatened.
The home club, of the Northern Premier League East Division, issued a statement on Saturday morning in the wake of the unprecedented scenes.
It stated: “Following the events at The UTS Stadium last night, the 21st July 2023, the club would like to make the following statement.
“We are all deeply saddened at the events that took place last night.
“Thankfully nobody was physically hurt or injured.
“The club would like to put on record that one individual named on the leaflets distributed during the pitch invasion, have had no connection with Dunston UTS FC, in any official capacity, for over two years.
“The other individual has no connection with our club whatsoever.
“We stress, we are a family-orientated community club and apologise for any distress felt by our supporters and visitors, particularly the younger fans.
“We will be working as hard as ever to repair the damage caused to our pitch and perimeter fencing and look forward to the forthcoming season.
“At this point as it is a live investigation the club will be making no further comments.”
Read more: Dunston v Gateshead: Police launch investigation into hearse
A Northumbria force spokesman said: “Disorder will not be tolerated in the community and anyone found to be involved will be dealt with robustly.
“While inquiries 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.
“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.”
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“Police remain in the area to carry out inquiries and offer reassurance to the public and those with concerns are encouraged to speak with an officer on duty.
“Anyone with information or footage capturing what happened should contact police using the Tell Us Something page of the Northumbria Police website or call 101 quoting reference number NP-20230721-1154.”
Gateshead FC tweeted: “Due to an incident on the pitch occurring shortly after half time, tonight’s match has been abandoned by the referee.”