A FOOTBALL hooligan who shouted racist abuse at a Forest Green Rovers player was jailed for nine months yesterday, Thursday.

Ryan Ferguson, aged 24, Barberry Crescent, Liverpool, was told by a judge at Gloucester Crown Court that his bad behaviour at football grounds had persisted for years despite court orders.

On April 18 last year Ferguson breached a five year football banning order by attending a match between Forest Green and Fleetwood Town at the New Lawn ground.

Prosecutor Robert Dudley said during the first half there was a minor tussle between Jamaican-born Jordon Garrick and a Fleetwood player.

Ferguson was in the crowd near the scene and shouted out something like "Deal with that f*****g c**n" or "f*****g fill that c**n in."

Two witnesses also heard Ferguson call midfielder Mr Garrick an outdated racial term.

Mr Garrick and fellow players and officials were 'shocked, disgusted and angry' by the comments, said Mr Dudley.

He said Ferguson was escorted out of the stadium by stewards and later gave police a false name and address.

Only later in custody did Ferguson admit his identity and accept that he should not even have been at the match.

Mr Garrick subsequently made a statement saying he was shocked and disgusted to be subjected to such abuse.

"This was his place of work and he has every right, he says, to go to work and not to have to suffer this kind of disgusting and insensitive language," said Mr Dudley.

"He says he has since spoken to teammates and friends and has been reassured by them that the defendant does not represent football and he does not represent real football fans."

The court heard that Ferguson had a 'lengthy' criminal record for offences of racially aggravated harassment, assault, battery, public order offences, using threatening and abusive behaviour and invading a football pitch.

Ceri Lewis, defending, said Ferguson fell in with a 'bad crowd' called the 'Ultras,' a travelling group of football supporters who have had a negative impact on him.

"He doesn't drink or do drugs," she said. "He has no excuse of explanation for his behaviour on this occasion. He is extremely remorseful.

"He says he doesn't know why he behaves in the way he did.

"He has a partner who is eight months pregnant and is due to give birth next month. He is very keen to be an active father. This will be his first child."

She said Ferguson had been working for DPD at the time of the offence.

Judge Rupert Lowe said great strides had been made in Britain to eliminate racial prejudice.

"You should be ashamed to represent a part of the ongoing problem of racism," he said.

Ferguson admitted racially aggravated abuse, breaching a football banning order and resisting police.

A new six year football banning order was also imposed.