Saints and sinners - mass brawl at Roker Park
Stotfold 1 St Neots Town 0 (abandoned after 43m) Stotfold chairman Phil Pateman said the club accepts responsibility for their part in the weekend league game being abandoned. Both hosts Stotfold and St Neots will be facing disciplinary action after the m
Stotfold 1 St Neots Town 0
(abandoned after 43m)
Stotfold chairman Phil Pateman said the club accepts responsibility for their part in the weekend league game being abandoned.
Both hosts Stotfold and St Neots will be facing disciplinary action after the match at Roker Park was called off following a mass brawl.
The committee of the United Counties League said it will call in the FA to deal with the violent scenes in Mid Beds on Saturday afternoon.
And Pateman said: "Players and officials have a responsibility to the game of football to behave correctly at all times. What happened has no place on Stotfold's pitch or any other for that matter.
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"We're guilty of reacting in the way we did; we were provoked and should not have responded.
"We'll await the report from the Beds FA and will take the fine and whatever punishment we will receive."
Visitors St Neots were already down to nine men when referee Dean Appleby called a halt to proceedings following the dismissals of Tony Russell and Luigi Rocco.
Appleby described the fracas that led to the abandonment of the match as "the most violent mass brawl I have ever witnessed as a referee on a football field".
And he told The Comet: "Once the match kicked off players seemed more intent on kicking each other than playing football."
There had been two midfield melees that the referee had managed to sort out before the visitors had Russell dismissed for a second yellow card in the 40th minute and by that time the foul count against both sides had gone off the scale.
But it was when Rocco landed a punch on Stotfold's Luke Donnelly that the violence flared.
Referee Appleby dealt with the situation immediately and dismissed Rocco.
But even he could not have expected what happened next as virtually all remaining players became involved in a mass free-for-all.
Pateman continued: "I have already made my players and management team aware of my disappointment.
"I have apologised to the Beds FA and to the UCL management committee over the brawl that came about after Rocco had floored Donnelly.
"The red mist descended on the players and the ref could have sent off several more from each side."
St Neots chairman Bob Bridges said he was "appalled" by the incident and had considered resigning on the spot but would make no further comment while awaiting reports.
He added: "What happened has no place on any football pitch".
In a statement, the UCL said: "The whole UCL committee are aware and shocked at what appears to have taken place.
"I cannot say much until all the reports are with us and the FA and then we will issue a proper report."
Appleby added: "Both chairmen visited me after the match and expressed their disappointment on what had happened; they both apologised to myself and my assistants.
"The affair has not made me want to give up refereeing but I would not want to see anything similar happen again."
Title-chasing Stotfold were leading 1-0 when the trouble started.
Louis Lee had given them an early lead and goalkeeper Brad Gillham had saved a penalty awarded for a dubious handball against the Stotfold goalscorer.