"One fan told me to get my coffin ready": Liverpool beach ball boy reveals his hell

It was one of the most bizarre things you'll ever see in a football match.

Last week, in an English Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Sunderland's Stadium of Light, just five minutes had been played when Sunderland's Darren Bent shot on goal - and the ball ricocheted off a beach ball and went into the net. It put Sunderland 1-0 ahead.

The Liverpool goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, may have had the ball covered, but he wasn't expecting it to deflect off the red beach ball. Sunderland held on to win the match 1-0. The laws of the game, though, state that as the beach ball was an "outside agent" the goal should NOT have been allowed and that a drop ball should have been awarded on the edge of the penalty area.

But the irony is that that the red beach ball was a LIVERPOOL beach ball, which is sold at the team's shop at Anfield and is emblazoned with the club's crest. And it was a Liverpool fan who threw the ball onto the pitch just before kick-off.

Pictures, beamed around the world on TV and the internet, clearly show the Liverpool fan hurling the beach ball onto the pitch just before the start of the match, but his face has been pixellated to avoid embarrassment.

But now the lad responsible has come forward. He is 16 year old Callum Campbell, a trainee painter and decorator, who is Liverpool mad and lives right near Anfield. Callum has revealed that he has even been receiving death threats from other Liverpool fans, some from as far afield as America and Australia.

One fan told him to get his coffin ready, and another told him he'd be made into a curry.

But Callum and most other Liverpool fans will be happy now - Liverpool today beat their fiercest rivals Manchester United 2-0.

Boy who lost game for mighty Liverpool with beach ball throw tells of his week in hell

EXCLUSIVE by Dennis Ellam
25/10/2009 (external - login to view)
The Mirror
- At Callum’s request, part of the fee for this interview will be donated to the Hillsborough Disaster Fund

'One fan told me to get my coffin ready, another said he’d make me into a curry' - Callum Campbell

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina was beaten in extraordinary circumstances at Sunderland last week

Callum Campbell, with a red Liverpool beach ball like the one which has caused so much controversy

This is the lad blamed for causing the freakiest, maddest – and one of the most talked-about – goals in football history.

Meet Liverpool fan Callum Campbell, 16, who bashed a beach ball on to the pitch…and condemned his team to a crazy defeat.

“It was me,” he said last night. “I’m the one who did it. I’m the one caught on camera. I’m so, so sorry. This is my worst, worst nightmare.

Callum moments before he threw the beach ball onto the pitch before the game

“When I got home I went into the garden and threw up. I was physically sick – and that’s before the death threats started appearing on the internet the next day.”

Millions of people around the world saw the beach ball collide with the real ball on TV and in gleeful videos on YouTube.

Distracted Liverpool goalie Pepe Reina went for the wrong ball and the real one trickled into the net behind him.

It was side-splittingly hilarious – unless, of course, you support Liverpool.

All week speculation has raged about the identity of the fan who pushed the beach ball from the crowd.

Vile death threats have been made over the web by fellow Liverpool supporters fuming at the mystery supporter’s incredible blunder.

At his home a few streets away from Liverpool’s famous Anfield home, Callum recounts, step by horrified step, the freakiest goal ever at Sunderland’s stadium a week ago.

Fanatical Callum was with the singing, boisterous away supporters and the bouncing Liverpool beach ball came his way just before kick-off...and he punched it forward on to the park.

But it wasn’t cleared away and, as Sunderland surged into the attack five minutes into the match, the red beach ball bounced jauntily into play.

For Liverpool, enduring their worst start to a season for 22 years, it spelled disaster – Sunderland held on to the bizarre one-goal lead.

“I watched it over and over again, and I still can’t work out how it happened,” Callum said.

“But my mum tells me it wasn’t my fault – and that’s what I have to believe. The referee should never have allowed the goal. I just hope the real fans understand and forgive me.”

Arriving home from the match, Callum locked himself in and didn’t go out for two days.

Meanwhile, Liverpool supporters unleashed their fury via the internet.

“Leave town kid – stay home or you’re dead!” one wrote.

Another advised “Get a coffin ready.”

And yet another warned: “I’m not only going to stab you, but mince you up and make curry out of it.”

Callum said: “When I looked closer these people were from America and Australia and all over the world – so-called fans who never come to Liverpool. So after that, I just ignored them.

“I knew the true fans wouldn’t threaten me like that – they would know I was more cut up about what happened than anyone else.”

Even so, it’s a pretty unpleasant place to find yourself.

“How was I supposed to know what would happen?” said Callum. “It was just a bit of fun, and if I could turn back the clock and do it differently, throw the ball into the crowd instead of on to the pitch, then I would.

“I’m really, really sorry it happened like it did.

“It’s bad enough when Liverpool lose, like in a normal way, but this was just one big disaster. I’ve thought about it all the time. I’ve gone over and over it, till it’s doing my head in. I know it wasn’t my fault, but even so…”

The Campbells are presenting a solid line of defence, sitting side by side on the settee.

Flanked by mum, Liz, 48, and dad, John, 46, Callum, looks as if he’s wishing that the sofa would swallow him up and all of this would go away.

They’re all Reds supporters. It’s a Liverpool FC household.

True fans have been sympathetic, they say. All the venom has come from outsiders with no idea what really happened.

“Television made it look like I lobbed the beach ball on to the pitch and straight away it hit the match ball,” Callum said.

“But the truth is, the game hadn’t started. The teams were just coming out. And the beach ball wasn’t even mine. I’d never seen one before. The crowd were bouncing it around above their heads, then it came my way and I just took a big swing and knocked it towards the pitch. After that the wind carried it into the net.

“I can’t believe it stayed there. It would have taken someone a couple of seconds to move it away, or put a foot on it and flatten it, but nobody bothered. And then it started to roll about. Just at the wrong moment.

“But I accept, I shouldn’t have thrown it on to the pitch in the first place.”

The day had started wrong. As he left on the coach with four mates for the long journey to Wearside, trainee painter and decorator Callum realised he had left something precious behind – the red rosary beads that belonged to his grandma who died a year ago. He always wears them around his neck at a game.

Callum was already feeling uneasy. “I’ve seen him when Liverpool are losing, fingering the beads for divine help,” says his uncle Tony Moore, 46, who goes with him to most matches. “Inside he is torn apart.

“When they lost to Everton last year, I had to drag him from the ground. He was in tears. And that was a normal defeat. Imagine how much worse this is.

“Let’s say Liverpool are just three points short of winning the league at the end of the season – he’ll be beside himself, thinking they were the points that he cost them.”

Friends and relatives from all over the country have called to offer sympathy and asked how the family was bearing up, like you would after some enormous tragedy.

They recognised Callum from early TV footage screened before newspapers and broadcasters blurred out his face.

“Callum walked in after the match white as a sheet,” Liz says. “He couldn’t eat.

He normally has a pizza delivered when he gets back from a match, but he couldn’t face anything.

“He just sat at the table with his head in his hands and he kept going over and over what had happened.

“He said, ‘Do you think I was to blame Mum?’ As a mother, and a Liverpool fan, I told him no, he wasn’t.

“There was plenty of time to move the ball before the match kicked off. The goal shouldn’t have been allowed. It was a freak accident.

“Liverpool FC is the love of his life. Not girls, or music, or clothes – Liverpool.

“He shouldn’t have to go through the rest of his life being known as the fan who lost them a match.”

Dad John adds: “If anyone is to blame it’s the ground staff who didn’t move the ball.”

Callum has heard that the Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has been trying to find him. A look of panic, flashes across Callum’s face.

“If he and Mr Benitez were to walk in here today, I’d tell him I’m so sorry for what I did,” he said.

Don’t worry, son. Mr Benitez just wants to reassure you, like your mum, that it wasn’t your fault.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Oct 25th, 2009 at 02:11 PM..
aaahhh The pettiness of it all. It's a sad state of affairs for humankind.
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