HEBDEN Royd Red Star have hit out at the decision of Halifax AFL chiefs to order a replay of their Premier Division fixture away to title favourites Shelf United.
Player-manager Chris Garbutt has contacted league secretary Tony Hilditch asking if Star can appeal and claiming that the decision ‘rewards Shelf for getting the game abandoned.’
The match on the 3G pitch at Lightcliffe Academy on March 9 was called off after about 70 minutes by the referee, who said he feared for his safety. Initial reports said comments from home supporters were to blame.
Star had just taken a 3-1 lead, having broken quickly following loud Shelf claims for handball against Star’s James Speechley on his own goalline.
The home side also claimed the ball had crossed the line seconds later but Star say it did not.
Garbutt said after the game that his players had not been involved in actions leading up to the abandonment of the game and he expected to be awarded the points.
A referee’s report was received and the West Riding County FA was involved in the subsequent enquiry but it is thought that the match official declined to attend a hearing at which further evidence was required.
The outcome has dismayed Garbutt who said he had told the league that Star were winning 3-1, 70 minutes had been played and Shelf’s fans and players were responsible for the abandonment.
“We were not a part of it, we were on top and we feel that we would easily have gone on to win,” said Garbutt.
He thought Shelf’s involvement in the title race had influenced the management committee’s decision.
He added: “Whether the referee was right or not to abandon the game, Shelf made the referee feel uncomfortable.
“It feels like they are being rewarded for abusing an official.”
Shelf boss John Lister said that there had been no reason for an abandonment and Star had “know full well it was handball and over the line.”
He added: “Both sides lined up for a restart (after Star’s third goal) and also talked about finishing the game with a spectator refereeing.”
The replayed game is now scheduled for April 26, two days after Star’s Challenge Cup final date with Sowerby Bridge at the Shay.
Halifax AFL fixture secretary David Rattigan said he believed Red Star would not be able to appeal against the decision.