Raw Deal: Life-long fan clashes with St Mirren after being hit in the face and injured by the ball at a match

Life-long fan Ernie Lang says St Mirren’s attitude to his injury and broken glasses is like a slap in the face (Mick McGurk)
Life-long fan Ernie Lang says St Mirren’s attitude to his injury and broken glasses is like a slap in the face (Mick McGurk)

A PENSIONER has clashed with the football club he has supported for 65 years after he was hit in the face and injured by a flying ball at a match.

Ernie Lang was sitting in the south stand at the Simple Digital Arena in April to watch his beloved St Mirren take on Livingston in a crunch game.

But during a pre-match warm-up, a practice shot from one of the young Saints players flew into the stand. The ball wacked Ernie full in the face, breaking his spectacles and leaving him requiring medical attention.

“It was like being hit by a boxer,” Ernie, a retired TV service manager from Paisley, said. “I had a cut nose and I later ended up with a black eye.

“I was seen to by a first aider in the medical area and I was in shock at the force of the impact.

“I felt very squeamish afterwards and had difficulty seeing the rest of the game as I had blurred vision because my glasses were broken.”

The grandfather of four, in his 70s, said he was worried his wife would think he had been mugged. “I took all the plasters off my face after the match because it looked like I had been assaulted in the street,” he said. “My wife found it hard to take in that the damage was caused by a ball and not another person.”

A few days later Ernie wrote to St Mirren chairman Gordon Scott asking if the club would pay for replacement glasses and also sent him a quote from an optician. This was for £279, as the lenses are varifocal.

Ernie was furious when the club wrote back suggesting he try to claim his home insurance for the damage. However, the club also offered him a free season ticket for his troubles which he declined because he said he can’t get to games in the winter.

“The suggestion about my home insurance was a non-runner because my policy excess is £250 anyway,” Ernie said.

“I also calculated that at the time a season ticket for pensioners was about half of the cost of replacing my glasses. I was very disappointed at the way I was treated by the club I have supported since I was a boy.”

Ernie appealed to Raw Deal for help and in turn we contacted St Mirren on his behalf.

The club wouldn’t budge on its stance but pointed out that the offer of a free season ticket still stood.

Club secretary Lynn Watson said: “I have apologised for the incident and explained to Mr Lang that we are under no legal obligation to replace his glasses but as a gesture of goodwill we offered him a free season ticket.

“I realise that this may not be the answer that Mr Lang was looking for but I feel that we have been more than fair.”

Ernie is now exploring legal action and insists he will not be returning to the Paisley stadium watch his team in the future.

In 2015 a shot by Cristiano Ronaldo flew into the crowd during the warm-up to Real Madrid’s match with Atletico. Unfortunately the ball hit a fan squarely in the face.

Ronaldo showed a bit of class however by giving the tearful young fan his shirt.