Referee calls for football teams to be thrown out after mass brawl
A REFEREE has called for two football teams to be expelled from their league after they waged a 21-man brawl, forcing him to abandon a match.
Frank Cockle said "Kung Fu kicks" and punches were flying when The Park Knowle Reserves and Amana Somali Youth Forum came to blows.
The trouble started after 80 minutes of Saturday's Bristol and Avon Premier League tie at The Park Centre in Daventry Road, Knowle West, when Amana, who had been 4-2 down, scored to come within a goal of the home side. Witnesses said that as an Amana player retrieved the ball from the net to hurry up the kick-off, a Park player also tried to grab the ball to slow down the restart.
A scuffle ensued and, as more players from both sides got involved, it escalated until every player except the Amana goalkeeper was in the melee. Mr Cockle struggled to control the teams and says he had no choice but to abandon the match.
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A few minutes later police arrived, having been called by a concerned neighbour and the Amana manager.
Mr Cockle told The Post: "It was a very sad day for football. If it was up to me, I would throw both teams out of the league.
"I was blowing my whistle and trying to settle it down but there was nothing I could do. There were kicks and punches flying everywhere. I saw an Amana player run 15ft and do a flying kick into a Park player's back.
"But both teams were as bad as each other. Someone could have been seriously injured, but luckily they weren't."
The 51-year-old, who runs MC Decorators in Hartcliffe, said in seven years' refereeing it was the worst violence he had seen on the pitch.
He added: "It's definitely put me off refereeing – I won't ref either of those two teams again, that's for sure.
"I referee for the love of the game and I'm not involved in football for that sort of thing.
"After 70 minutes, the result is supposed to stand but I wouldn't want anyone to be awarded points after that has happened."
Danny Kingdon, who was acting manager for The Park and playing centre midfield, received a flying kick to his back.
He said: "There was a scuffle in the net and one of their players threw a punch at one of our players, then everyone got involved.
"We're not interested in fighting, we just want to play football. But, if something like that happens, obviously you're going to defend yourself as best you can."
Amana's manager Abdul Qani Waid said there will be discussions as to whether his team would pull out of the league next season.
Mr Waid said he had been wary of his team's safety since an under-16s game two years ago against a different team from Knowle West, when there was violence on the pitch that continued after the game. Last season, another away match was abandoned due to violence.
Of Saturday's brawl, he said: "It was an aggressive game before that. If the Knowle player didn't stop our player taking the ball out of the net, nothing would have happened.
"After the match, I told my team to get in their cars and leave straight away."
Police spokeswoman Catherine Foster said: "When officers attended one of the teams had left. No crime was reported to us."