A FOOTBALL referee was goaded into grappling with a man on the floor at Darlington train station, a court heard.

Middlesbrough fan Jamie Cann, 32, of Biddick Close, Stockton, was travelling home on the train from the Boro versus Birmingham game on March 17 when he was taunted by a group of passengers who recognised him as a local referee.

Cann moved places but when he got off the train and went to the cash machine, he was called over by one of the men.

Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard today (Tuesday October 16) that Cann confronted the man, punches were thrown and the pair ended up grappling on the floor.

Cann pleaded guilty in court to using threatening words and behaviour.

Mitigating, Michael Clarke said that the first punch was thrown at Cann.

He said: “He has not done anything towards this person at all.

“This attack seems to be primarily motivated by the fact that he has been recognised as a local football league referee.”

Presiding magistrate Rajeev Kumar Devgan told Cann: “We will accept that you were not the instigator, but as a referee you should know that you need to calm down and walk away.”

He fined Cann £150 and ordered him to pay £85 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.