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Watford supporters' trip to Manchester City for FA Cup fourth round tie 'turned into a nightmare'
A family's dream day out at Manchester City turned into a "nightmare" after a group of Watford fans, including three young children, were told to leave their seats at the Etihad Stadium after celebrating the Hornets’ opening goal.
Graham Hall and Neil Silverstein have been given a full refund by the Premier League club after they were removed from their places in City's Citizen's Suite shortly after Fernando Forestieri’s stike in the 20th minute.
Having missed the rest of the game, the party decided to give up and go home midway through the second half.
Hall had booked seven tickets for the FA Cup fourth round tie last Saturday and was joined by his two older daughters, Hannah and Roxanne, who are both in their twenties, as well as his seven-year-old son Graham. Silverstein took his son Adi, also seven, and Abbey, who is ten.
The group had enjoyed City's 'Matchball Sponsor' package when the two teams had met in the FA Cup in the 2012/13 season (pictured) and were looking forward to another day out at the Etihad, this time in one of the executive suites.
The tickets for the match cost £637.20 in total and, including travel and other costs, the day came to almost £1,000 overall.
"A good day turned into a nightmare," said Hall, who is a Watford season ticket holder and lives in Abbots Langley.
"We saw the first goal but that was it - after that we didn’t see any more of the match.
"It completely ruined the day - when you go to a football match you don’t expect to have your seven-year-old balling his eyes out.
"And the worst thing about it all was that on the way home Adi and Graham both told us they didn’t want to go to away matches any more - they were cold and they were crying.
"You want to give your kids good, positive experiences and that was taken away from us - it was a wasted day."
Initially, Hall and Silverstein were told they could be relocated to a lower tier with other Watford fans but miscommunication between the stadium's hospitality and stewards caused confusion.
Manchester City say the group were told to respect the fact the Citizen Suite is located in the home supporters' area of the Etihad Stadium but Hall insists he had made it clear they were Watford fans from the start.
"They knew we were Watford fans," he said. "When we booked we told them again and again and again - and they said it wasn’t a problem at all.
"It’s not every day Watford take the lead against Manchester City so of course the kids were jumping about and celebrating the goal.
"We told them to settle down once the game started again but there were City supporters around us who told us not to worry, that the kids should just enjoy themselves."
He added: "We weren’t a bunch of blokes getting drunk and being rowdy - we were a family who just wanted to go to the football for fun. But it wasn’t fun at all."
Hall wrote a letter of complaint to Manchester City on Tuesday asking for an apology and a full refund for his tickets.
A Manchester City spokesperson told the Watford Observer yesterday (Thursday): "After celebrating in the home end, a small group of Watford fans were given the option by the match steward to watch the game from either the suite, away from the home fans, or in the away end with fellow Watford fans.
"The party preferred neither and chose to leave the stadium of their own free will. The Club has since been in contact with the party and offered them a full refund."
Hall said the club are yet to contact him and he added: "If that's all they've come back with, I'm really disappointed.
"We were never given the option of watching the match in the suite and to not receive an apology, I think it's shocking really.
"It's not about the money, it's about the kids who had their weekend ruined and don't want to go to football matches anymore."
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