West Ham fan Chris Knoll has spoken to The West Ham Way about the famous night in Holland and looking ahead to the Europa Conference League final.
The Hammers fan, known as Knollsy, has been thrust into the spotlight following his heroics at helping protect families and friends of club staff and players at the Semi-Final win over AZ Alkmaar last Thursday night in the Netherlands.
It was a disturbing scene with many of the ‘ultras’ seen swarming into the area of West Ham fans who were simply enjoying reaching the final in a historic and proud night for our club. Yet Chris stood strong by blocking their stairway entrance bravely to fight off the hooded and masked ‘supporters’, who have since been condemned by AZ.
Speaking to Dave Walker and ExWHUEmployee this week on The West Ham Way Podcast, the die hard Irons fan admitted that its been a crazy time for him since, however showed his class by denying that he should be regarded as a hero for his actions that night.
“I’m not quite used to this fame,” admitted Knollsy. As soon as we scored the winner we were celebrating, while they were throwing smoke bombs onto the pitch.
“Someone said to me ‘they’re leaving the ground’ – but I said ‘they’re not leaving they’re running! They’re coming here with purpose.’ I thought if barrier goes we’ll be amongst it. Then it did, so we had to make a split second decision.”
Chris then went straight to the top of the stairway to block the hooligans and stood strong even though he was by far outnumbered.
“They were there to cause trouble,” said Chris. “We met them at the top of the stairs, and managed to stop them. We did our best to fend them off.
“There was plenty of other helping too, to stop the ultras from getting to the friends and families. Eventually police showed up and they disappeared back into their stand.”
Knollsy though does not want to be regarded as a hero as he feels that anyone else would have done the same. He did share though that his wife wasn’t even aware of the drama when he landed back safely in the UK.
“I’m not a hero,” he stated. “Most people would react the same way, I’m a father of 4 and you want to protect your loved ones, and that instinct just kicked in.
“I’m not a person who looks for trouble, but I won’t tolerate bullies. And that’s what they are.
“When I landed home I called the missus, she didn’t even know about it! She turned her phone on and went ‘oh my god what have you been up to?!’
“I must say I didn’t pay for a drink at Leeds game – and I must have taken over a 1000 selfies. It’s surreal. But I am grateful.”
Chris was asked what his thoughts are on the final, now that it has been revealed he has received a ticket to attend.
“I really think our name is on that trophy!” added the now famous ‘Angel of Alkmaar’.