Assistant referee left stunned after being struck

ASSISTANT referee Adrian Sannerude told this week how he was left momentarily stunned when a lighter thrown from the crowd at Carrow Road struck him on the side of the head.

The incident happened in the 77th minute during the tense finale to last Saturday’s match against Reading before Grant Holt scored Norwich City’s late winner.

Reading defender Ian Harte - who had been jeered by the crowd during the game after a controversial incident between the teams when they met in November - was preparing to take a throw-in in front of the visiting fans.

Mr Sannerude, 44, of Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, was seen to slump to the ground after he was struck before quickly getting up and carrying on. He said: “I was near the corner flag having just signalled a throw-in to Reading. Ian Harte was about to take the throw when the green lighter came from the side, thrown from the Barclay end. I think it was one of those throw-away lighters.

“It was the shock more than anything that made me go down although it has left me with a mark on the face.”

Mr Sannerude, a father of three, who works as a retail manager for model-maker Hannants in Oulton Broad, said the referee had asked him if he needed the physio, but he declined the offer.

He said it was the first such incident he had experienced in his three years of running the line in the Football League, but it had not put him off and he was already looking forward to next week.

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He added that the incident was nothing in comparison to the assault he had suffered when he was refereeing a local game in Lowestoft five years ago - then he had been punched in the head two or three times in an incident that led to a player receiving a life ban.

Norwich City club spokesman Joe Ferrari said: “We believe an object was thrown from the home section of the crowd. We believe we have identified the perpetrator. The matter has been taken up by police. There will be no further comment at this time.”

Police confirmed yesterday that they are still investigating the incident.