An AAMI Park pitch invader responsible for leaving former Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover with 10 stitches and a “permanent reminder” of the chaos has been jailed.
Alex Agelopoulos, 23, returned before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to violent disorder and disrupting a game. He was sentenced to serve three months imprisonment followed by an 18-month community corrections order.
Dubbed “Bucket Man” in the media following the pitch invasion, Agelopoulos hurled a bucket of sand at Mr Glover, leaving him in hospital with lacerations to his face and a concussion.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Glover said he had been left a “permanent reminder” of Agelopoulos’ offending by the scar on his right cheek.
He told the court that he was now fearful and anxious when out in public and felt wary when stepping out on the pitch as memories of the attack remained.
The incident occurred during the A-League derby match between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory on December 17 when about 120 to 150 people from the northern stand stormed the pitch int the 20th minute.
Spectators had planned to walk out at the 20-minute mark to protest Football Federation Australia’s deal to host the next three grand finals at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium.
Instead, the pitch was invaded at 8.06pm after a lit flare was thrown and Mr Glover accidentally threw it back into the stand.
Bottles, flares, metal buckets and broken stadium chairs were thrown about as the game was abandoned by officials at the 22-minute mark.
Multiple people, including referee Alex King, Mr Glover, a camera man and a security officer, were injured during the chaos, which caused more than $200,000 in damage to the stadium.
In court, prosecutors argued that Agelopoulos’ actions during the pitch invasion were the “most serious violent acts” after causing the injury to Mr Glover.
Magistrate Rosemary Falla said Football Federation Australia’s decision to sell the game to NSW was unpopular in Victoria among fans and clubs, leading to a “social media frenzy”.
She said Agelopoulos had admitted to consuming alcohol and illicit drugs but had since ended his “serious addiction to ice”.
“You and your cohort have stained the very fabric of football in Australia,” she said.
“No doubt this will be a day you wish to take back … it will be remembered for the harm caused to a sport you claim to love.”
Agelopoulos’ lawyer, Dermot Dann KC, argued that Ms Falla should impose a community corrections order in “parity” with the sentence imposed on another key figure, Muhammed Varsan, 19.
The court was told Varsan had thrown a flare onto the ground, punched a security guard in the back of the head and thrown items including a flag pole at police.
Mr Dann submitted that Agelopoulos had become the face of the AAMI Park invasion and would “forever be known as bucket man”.
Melbourne Victory was handed a record $550,000 fine over the actions of their supporters, while 38 people, including at least one child, were charged over the incident.
Police and thousands of supporters later condemned the behaviour on what was called football’s “night of shame”.
At the end of the hearing, as Agelopoulos was expected to be led down to the cells, Mr Dann announced that he had been instructed to appeal the sentence in a higher court in December.
Agelopoulos walked free from court ahead of that hearing after police did not oppose bail.