By Ben Pearce
Monday, March 11, 2013
Wingate & Finchley have stressed that yesterday’s remarkable Ryman League clash with Thurrock was “a well-mannered game”, despite the Blues seeing five of their players sent off for five separate incidents.
FA rules state that matches cannot continue if a team has less than seven players, so the referee was forced to abandon the match.
It is believed to be the first time in the league’s 108-year history that a game has been called off for that reason.
That has thrust the north London outfit into the national spotlight, but the club insist that there was no malice in any of their players’ performances.
A Wingate statement read: “The club acknowledges that an unusual occurrence happened at yesterday’s game.
“However, for those who were not present at the game, it was abandoned for five separate red cards at five separate times, where two of the players were dismissed for two bookable offences.
“Both the opponents and the league have acknowledged that it was a well-mannered game between two sides battling relegation.
“The club feel it inappropriate to comment further until such time as the referee and league reports have been issued.”
Wingate defender Ahmet Rifat was shown a straight red for retaliation soon after the break, claiming he had been punched.
Osa Obamwonyi had been booked in the first half for a handball and he got his marching orders in the 62nd minute after picking up a second yellow card while conceding a penalty.
Thurrock’s Stuart Thurgood, who came through Spurs’ youth system, converted from the spot to give his side the lead, and W&F’s agony continued as left-back Ronayne Marsh-Brown got a straight red for a dangerous tackle.
Four minutes later midfielder John Christian got a second yellow card for kicking the ball away, and that was followed by a fifth red card for dissent, leaving the Blues with six men and forcing the referee to abandon the match in the 85th minute.
Thurrock chairman Tommy South said: “I think there was only one bad tackle in the game.”
Yesterday’s bizarre events were particularly unfortunate as they coincided with a special Mother’s Day promotion, with mothers being admitted free of charge, and Wingate are keen to ensure that their excellent reputation in the local community remains intact.
Chairman Aron Sharpe said: “The club’s board and volunteers have worked tirelessly in my time here over the last five years to try to create a forward-thinking ‘family club’ that has a strong emphasis on youth development and progression.
“Rather than focus on a negative that was entirely out of the realms of control off the pitch, I would like to focus on all of the positive aspects of the club that have taken place, firstly yesterday and also within the time in which the club came under the control of an entirely new board five or so years ago.
“Prior to the game we hosted a disability five-a-side tournament with many teams entered, and this saw many local people with disabilities enjoying their moment.
“We also had local school children invited to be coached by our first-team coaches and players, and they were actively involved in the squad’s warm-up. These are all regular proactive and inclusive efforts made by people at the club.”
The last time a game was abandoned due to a lack of players was when Sheffield United played West Bromwich Albion in the infamous ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’ in 2002 – but there were only three red cards.
Simon Tracey, Georges Santos and Patrick Suffo were dismissed while Michael Brown and Robert Ullarthorne were forced off with injury, and the Blades had already used all of their substitutes.