Players made my life a misery, says de la Fuente

By Danny Caro, January 18, 2013
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This is the moment referee Martin de la Fuente walked off the pitch and threatened to abandon a match because of unruly behaviour.

The match in Wembley reached boiling point 17 minutes into the second half after a mass confrontation between rival players, officials and supporters in Sunday’s Division One match between Camden Park and Temple Fortune A.

The situation became too much for de la Fuente who then picked up his equipment and walked off the pitch. The official said the players had made his life "a misery" and it became "almost impossible to control the players".

de la Fuente said: "It was an ill-tempered game and it all boiled over after two players came together and adopted an aggressive attitude towards one another. I can deal with two players squaring up but not all 22, the subs and fans.

"I tried to separate the teams and keep them in separate halves whilst trying to restore order, but the players just weren’t listening. The teams were trying to mask the bad behaviour and it was almost impossible to control them. Dissent was high and they just wanted to moan and make my life a misery."

de la Fuente is a Level 5 referee who also officiates in the South Midlands League Premier Division. He said: "Temple Fortune seemed not to want to play football and they challenged every decision. Their players were simply not responding to my advice. Unfortunately the players think they know the laws, but they don’t. They need to get their house in order."

Calm was eventually restored after the referee spoke at length to both captains and managers and the match was completed.

A season-ticket holder at Spurs, de la Fuente has helped out as a emergency fourth official in the Premier League at White Hart Lane twice.

He said: "I've had to abandon one match in 20 years but in the end the managers and captains of both teams apologised and we were able to finish the game.

"I'm not a lightweight or inexperienced referee but there were some players out there who were not interested in playing football."

However, representatives from both teams say it was the official's handling of the match that led to
confrontation.

Camden manager Josh Marks offered some words of consolation. "The ref did lose control," he said. "However, I had a chat with him afterwards and have to say that in fairness it was very difficult for him.

"He received strong verbal abuse throughout which is completely unnecessary as the boys should be respectful and grateful for his time rather than making his life a misery."

A statement from Fortune said: "There was a lot of arguing but no violence of any sort. It was then the referee decided to abandon the game, before then changing his mind. But Fortune player Michael Goldberg, who was booked during the game, was in no doubt about who was to blame for the unsavoury scenes. He said: "The referee just couldn’t control the game from the first whistle which resulted in the game getting out of hand at times."

MSFL Referees Secretary Martin Fox said: "By rights, if a referee walks off the pitch he should never go back on as it's a sign of weakness. The teams are fortunate he decided to continue. It's down to the players to control themselves. They must learn to accept decisions.

"Overall marks for our referees have improved this season. We've got some very good ones and the players have to play their part as people forget that referees also make mistakes, but they also want to enjoy the game. After all, we’re only human."

de la Fuente is keen to put the incident behind him, and said: "Dissent is rife in the MSFL, but I won’t be giving up because of one particular team.

"I'm being made out to be the bad one but I can live with that as long as everyone involved is able to go to work the next day with no broken bones."

Last updated: 10:46am, January 18 2013