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Ref cries foul as dog mess ruins the day

PUBLISHED: 09:46 17 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:02 03 March 2010

PERSISTENT fouling caused a referee to abandon a Suffolk football match on Sunday morning – but there was barely a bad tackle in sight.

It was whoever let the dogs out – and failed to clean up after them – on football pitches in Bramford Lane, Ipswich, that prompted the official to declare the pitch "unfit for play" and bring the game to an abrupt halt.

PERSISTENT fouling caused a referee to abandon a Suffolk football match on Sunday morning – but there was barely a bad tackle in sight.

It was whoever let the dogs out – and failed to clean up after them – on football pitches in Bramford Lane, Ipswich, that prompted the official to declare the pitch "unfit for play" and bring the game to an abrupt halt.

Restless referee Richard Porter stopped the match between the Maypole 88 and Martlesham Wanderers 10 times in the first 17 minutes for the mess to be mopped up. But when more was found just three minutes later he decided it was a foul too far – and called off the match.

"In my opinion, the pitch was unfit for play," said Mr Porter. "When more dog excrement was found I decided to abandon the game."

The Ipswich Sunday League clash, at Maypole's home pitch on the Whitehouse estate, is thought to be the first time a more unpleasant sort of foul has forced a match to be scrapped.

Play was halted as Martlesham Wanderers were leading 1-0 with Maypole 88 down to 10 men after a dismissal for dissent. But now the match will have to be replayed – when the pitch is less of a mess.

Alan Warner, the Wanderers' manager, said: "For the first couple of minutes, a guy kept running on the pitch with a shovel to get rid of the droppings. It was crazy. Eventually, the referee said he had never seen anything like it and called the game off. We were all stunned."

He added: "It wasn't the best pitch but it seemed playable when we were warming up. I guess he did not want anyone falling over in dog mess but I've never heard of anything like it before."

Jok Dzundza, the league's pitch allocation officer and fixture secretary, said this was the first match he could ever remember being called off for dog fouling.

He said it was "deplorable" that Ipswich Borough Council, which owns the recreation ground, should allow a pitch to be in such a state – with an obvious risk of infection – considering the "substantial" amount of money ploughed into grass roots football.

"People who play local football know that facilities are generally quite poor, but something like this should not be allowed to happen," he said.

Mr Dzundza and George Debman, of the Licensed Trades Football League, are lobbying councillors about the state of facilities at local football level.

They claim that, apart from the major sports centres at Gainsborough and Whitton, the usual standard of pitches and changing rooms is appalling. "This abandoned game has hopefully brought the issue to the forefront," added Mr Dzundza.

Mike Grimwood, animal welfare service manager at the council, said nobody had reported the problem so far.

But he added: "We are in full agreement with the people who use the park – it is totally unacceptable. To make it worse, there are dog bins on the park. Now it has been brought to our attention, we will increase surveillance."


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