A REFEREE was left with a broken tooth after being attacked at the end of a Sunday league football match in Sonning Common.
Barrie Angell, from Caversham, is said to have been punched by a player from New England after their game against SC United Reserves at the Bishopswood Recreation Ground.
Mr Angell, 69, had sent off three New England players for foul and abusive language as their team was beaten 6-3 in the Reading and Sunday District League Division 4 East game. Eyewitnesses said that several players approached the referee after the match and one punched him twice in the face. Tom Borrett, 26, goalkeeper and manager for SC United Reserves, said: “We had quite a few supporters there and one of the boys’ dads got angry because you don’t punch a man that age.
“It got a bit heated and I tried to calm the situation down but it took a while.
“A lot of people were quite shocked because the ref was bleeding quite a lot. It was sickening to see.”
Police were called as Mr Angell, who has been an official for 45 years, was given first aid by SC United officials. He was said to be shaken but drove himself to Royal Berkshire Hospital, where he was given stitches in his top lip.
Mr Borrett said Mr Angell had been a late choice as match official. He said: “He wasn’t the best referee but at the end of the day you don’t do that to someone. It’s only Sunday league football.
“I’d never seen anything like it. We had an incident a few weeks ago with one of our players having a confrontation with an opposing player but that was nothing compared with what I witnessed on Sunday.”
Mr Borrett said the opposition team, which comes from Earley, were upset as they went behind. Three New England players swore at the referee after he allowed a contentious goal for the home side to stand.
“We all know that if you swear at the referee you are going to get sent off and that’s what happened,” said Mr Borrett. “The referee didn’t have a lot of control over the game but he was doing us a favour and stopped me from having to do it.
“I also had a discussion with him in the second half because of a dubious penalty he gave and he booked me.
“We all say things to the referee but it’s one thing saying something and another going to attack him.”
Mr Borrett said one of his players, who had acted as linesman, made a statement to the police, as did other eyewitnesses.
League chairman Pat Hicks said the alleged offender’s registration had been withdrawn and New England’s match on Sunday had been cancelled while the club prepares a statement.
The Berks & Bucks FA will also ban the player from all football until his case is heard.
Mr Hicks said: “Barrie is well respected by not only the league but in local football. For something like this to happen is a disgrace. Nothing ever warrants punching the referee.
“If it’s a clear case of assault on a referee then he won’t play again in this league. What the county FA does is entirely up to them.
“As long as the club has done everything it possibly could have done, we won’t be kicking it out the league. This is just one player and we’ve heard his teammates are absolutely disgusted.”
Mr Angell declined to make a comment.
Police said a 20-year-old man from Whiltey had been arrested and bailed until December 17.