Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One big crush! Thirty-five fans injured in rush to see Cowell's boy band One Direction

By Donna Mcconnell and Georgina Littlejohn

X Factor boy band One Direction perform at a free open-air concert for up to 4000 fans in Wolverhampton with their mentor Simon Cowell

Thirty-five fans of X Factor finalists One Direction were treated for minor injuries after thousands turned out to watch them perform in scenes filmed for the ITV1 show, ambulance staff said.

The popular boy band, mentored by Simon Cowell, performed a short open-air set in Wolverhampton's Queen Square yesterday in front of nearly 4,000 fans.

But it seems the combination of the poor weather, and their excitement took its toll.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said nearly 4,000 fans attended the show, with the first casualty being found more than three hours before the group took to the stage.

A spokesman said most of the injuries were caused by 'the effects of the cold and over-excitement'.

He said: 'The band didn't come on stage until just before 8pm, but the first casualty was found in Lichfield Street at 4.45pm with a head injury. After treatment she was discharged on scene.

To the rescue: Security guards pull out over-excited fans from the crush of people who turned out to see One Direction

It's all too much: Two burly bouncers lift one faint-looking fan out of the crowd to give her some air

'Another five casualties were dealt with about half an hour later. Three hadn't eaten or drunk all day, one had felt faint and the fifth was hyperventilating.

'The latter two patients also had insufficient clothing on for the conditions. After treatment, getting warmed up and eating something, all five were discharged.'

The spokesman added: 'Just before the band took to the stage there was a surge in the crowd.

'A total of 28 people were lifted out over the barriers at the front. Eight were assessed by ambulance staff but did not require hospital treatment and went back into the crowd.'

Safety first: The boy band and Cowell are backed up by police as they arrive at the free concert to a throng of screaming fans

We love you! Screaming fans hold up home made banners as they loudly declare their dedication to the boys

Reports also said that fans started arriving three hours before the free gig and were stood outside in freezing temperatures of -7 degrees.

Earlier, Wolverhampton Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Gwinnett, said they were prepared for thousands of fans turning up to the gig.

He said: 'This is a massive coup for Wolverhampton. There could be up to 15,000 fans. We will have lots of security in place.'

Welcome home: Zayn Malik is greeted by fans as he attends a signing in his home town of Bradford

The gig in Wolverhampton - where member Liam Payne grew up - is part of a homecoming tour for the boys ahead of this weekend's final.

The day before, the boys had visited Bradford, where Zayn Malik grew up, and met fans at a signing session at the city's HMV store.

And they also performed a special gig at Hall Cross School in Doncaster - where Louis Tomlinson attended - and were greeted by hundreds of very happy school girls, who snapped pictures of the boys on their mobile phones.

Their fellow finalists - Cher Lloyd, Rebecca Ferguson and Matt Cardle - have also performed in their home towns this week ahead of this weekend's finale.

Pens ready: The boys smile for the cameras as they prepare to meet their fans in Bradford

Hello there! Liam Payne and Zayn Malik wave to their adoring fans as they walk into the HMV store

Yesterday, as he proudly accompanied his band, Simon Cowell, who has been mentoring them throughout the competition, took the opportunity to deny that last weekend's semi-final had been fixed.

Writing an open letter to the Mirror, he said the semi-final sing off between Mary Byrne and Cher Lloyd was brought in to 'stop it from being boring'.

He added: 'I think it’s appropriate because of some of the stories this week that I personally explained why we made certain decisions on The X Factor this year.

It’s always our sole intention to try and make the show as entertaining and hopefully exciting every week. Our main focus is to ensure that the contestants are given every opportunity to benefit from being on the show and show their talent.

Special assembly: The boys send hundreds of schoolchildren into a frenzy as they perform at Louis Tomlinson's former school in Doncaster

Getting a better look: Schoolgirl fans stand on their chair to snap pictures of the boys

We decided for the first time some weeks ago to put four people into the final and this meant having five semi-finalists. We also felt it would be fairer that there would be a sing-off rather than automatic elimination as there were more contestants.

'I understand new decisions are seen as controversial by our viewers but it stops the show becoming boring. As the excitement heats up, debates begin but I do want to assure people that the show is definitely not fixed.'

Meanwhile, heavyweight showbiz names are being touted to accompany the finalists in the showdown this weekend. Rihanna, Christina Aguilera. Robbie Williams returns and Cheryl Cole's friend Will.I.Am are all said to be confirmed to appear on the X Factor stage.

Rap superstar Jay Z, one of Cher's favourite artists is also rumoured to be making an appearance.

In with a chance: One Direction and Simon Cowell jump for joy after hearing that they have got through to this weekend's X Factor semi-final


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