Police are hunting a group of balaclava-clad individuals who drove a hearse and a Subaru onto a football pitch at half-time.

A clash between non-league sides Dunston and Gateshead had to be cancelled after two vehicles entered the field on Friday night and began driving around in circles.

Eyewitnesses say the group driving the cars – who were wearing balaclava masks – were throwing leaflets onto the playing field.

It meant the referee had no option but to call the game off with the funeral vehicle having been left abandoned on the pitch. The group left in the Subaru, say police.

Videos shared on social media show the vehicles doing doughtnuts around the surface. The driver of the hearse then gets out, opens the door of the silver Subaru, and it drives away.

Police say no one was injured during the incident. And, despite social media reports the men may have been armed, insist there is “no risk to the wider public”. 

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “Police have launched an investigation following a disturbance during a football match in Gateshead. At around 8.20pm today (Friday) it was reported two cars drove on the pitch during half-time of the Dunston UTC v Gateshead match at Dunston Football Club on Wellington Rd.

“Following this, both cars – a Subaru and a hearse – have drove around in circles and a group of males wearing balaclavas have exited onto the pitch. They have proceeded to throw leaflets on the pitch before driving away from the area in the Subaru before police arrival.

“The hearse was abandoned on the pitch. Officers attended within minutes where nobody was reported to have been injured or threatened. An investigation was launched and enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding the report and locate those involved.

“Disorder will not be tolerated in the community, and anyone found to be involved will be dealt with robustly. While enquiries are at an early stage, it is believed those involved are known to each other and there was no wider risk to the public.

“We are aware of images and videos circulating on social media. The public are urged not to speculate, and encouraged to share footage with police. Officers remain in the area to offer reassurance.

“Any info or footage? Contact via website or 101 ref: NP-20230721-1154.”

A member of stadium staff reportedly tried to prevent the men from leaving, but was unsuccessful. And reports suggest damage has been done to the stadium gates as they smashed their way out.