By Chris Wright
Back in 1984, Tottenham’s UEFA Cup semi-final against Hajduk Split was forever besmirched by the image of an irate Split fan encroaching onto the pitch and breaking a live cockerel’s neck before kick-off. The protest was seen as a ‘hostile act’ by UEFA, who duly fined the Croatian club 3,000 Swiss francs and banned them from playing home games within a 300km radius of their Poljud stadium for a fair old while.
The fan responsible managed to evade identification and the grizzly chicken-choking yarn has since passed over into footballing folklore. That was until yesterday, when the Split fan – who was part of the club’s hardcore ‘Torcida’ supporters at the time – came forward and finally confessed his crime.
Split fan Anthony Barabbas, now a 50-year-old lawyer, has admitted that it was he who choked his chicken in the middle of the Poljud that fateful night, explaining his actions thus:
“The rooster was the symbol of Tottenham and the English fans were so arrogant. They thought they were bigger than God.
“So I drank a beer, stole a rooster from a bar and ran onto the centre of the pitch and snapped its neck. I realise now I was very wrong and I apologise.
“I’m sorry, really I was wrong. I can only blame my immeasurable love of Hadjuk.”
Barabbas also admitted that, 28 years down the line, the act has haunted him ever since – especially after the club were penalised so heavily for it.
Eh, don’t beat yourself up Anthony. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Slaughtering chickens in a public forum.