Ref flees pitch after match spirals out of control

Hunterfield boys club with manager Graeme Reynolds (left) and assistant David Samuel

A REFEREE was forced to stop a stormy under-14’s football match over fears for his safety, it has been claimed.

Tensions rose amid controversial refereeing decisions during a cup-tie between Hunterfield Boys Club and Leith Athletic in Edinburgh.

The bad-blooded game between the youth teams was abandoned with just 15 minutes of the match remaining.

Both sides have been accused of hurling foul-mouthed abuse and launching dangerous tackles.

Hunterfield manager Graeme Reynolds stormed on to the pitch to confront the referee following a bad challenge on one of his strikers.

But Leith Athletic players allege that opposition fans had been screaming abuse at them throughout the first half.

An eyewitness at the game said trouble “began to brew” towards the end of the first half when the referee spoke to Mr Reyonlds and spectators for questioning his decisions.

“Things came to a boiling point when, in the space of a few minutes, two horrendous tackles were made by players from each side,” said the spectator.

Mr Reynolds agreed words had been exchanged between both sets of fans, players and coaching staff during the heated last-16 match in the Sportsassist South-East Region Cup.

“It was a typical cup tie but the atmosphere wasn’t that bad”, he said.

“All parents and coaches on our sideline were really well behaved and I was the only one to crack up after seeing that tackle.

“It was a really bad one on a 13-year-old kid that could have stopped him playing football. It was just horrendous.”

The coach said he was incensed the player who committed the foul threatened his striker moments before the challenge.

“I have been involved in football at a high standard all my life and never seen a tackle as bad as that – it made my stomach turn,” he said.

“I ran right on the park because I thought my player’s leg had been broken and was shouting at the ref ‘That’s ridiculous after what you have heard him say’.

“I grabbed my laddie who was screaming and got him off the park, and when I went up to speak to the ref he said he was abandoning the game because he feared for his own safety.

“There was nothing said against the referee so I was very surprised at that. All he had to do was let the game calm down, send the player off and if he wasn’t happy with me he could send me off as well.”

Asked if he felt the game should have been abandoned Mr Reynolds said: “The standard of refereeing was shocking and I think his inexperience caused a lot of problems.”

The manager of Leith Athletic and the South-East Region Youth Football association declined to comment.