Smoke grenade was stupid

Exeter City v Carlisle

Exeter City were leading 1-0 when the game had to be stopped

The use of a smoke grenade that caused Saturday’s League Two game with Carlisle to be halted for more than an hour was “extremely stupid”, says Exeter City chairman Julian Tagg.

The Stagecoach stand at St James Park had to be evacuated 10 minutes into the match, which finished 2-2.

The police and fire brigade were called to the stadium and an arrest was made.

“It’s a wooden grandstand, and everyone remembers the tragic time in Bradford,” Tagg told BBC Radio Devon.

Fifty-six people died and more than 250 others were injured when the main stand at Bradford’s Valley Parade burned down on 11 May 1985 after what was thought to be a dropped cigarette led to flames engulfing the entire wooden structure.

Tagg praised the emergency services and ground stewards for their response to smoke being seen coming out the back of the stand at St James Park.

“Sometimes, in an innocent way, they think they’re creating some atmosphere, but actually they’re being extremely stupid,” said Tagg about the use of flares and smoke grenades at football matches.

“The police were excellent, the fire service, our stewarding operation and indeed the fans – they created a little bit of a carnival atmosphere and Dunkirk spirit for a while.”

Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said in a statement that taking smoke grenades and flares to football matches is “irresponsible and absolutely mindless”.

Saturday’s draw leaves the Grecians 14th in the table, having won just one of their past 11 league games at home.

“It didn’t really help us much, I have to say,” Exeter manager Paul Tisdale said after the match.

“The one thing you want as an away manager, when you’ve been outplayed for the first 10 minutes and you’re a goal down, is to have the opportunity to have a team talk and regroup, which is what they did.”

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