top of page

1927: Football match descends into farce - 'abusive' Cuckfield players punished...

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 08 February 1927



Alleged insulting and abusive remarks made by home players, spectators and linesman to the referee in the Mid-Sussex Football League (Division II.) match at Cuckfield between that team and Hurstpierpoint on January 15th formed the subject of an inquiry by a Commission of the S.C.F.A., at Goldings’ Hotel, Haywards Heath, last Tuesday evening.

Golding's Hotel c1920 where hearing was held

Councillor B. Dense (Brighton) presided, and the other members were Messrs. F. J. Comer (Handcross), W. A. Grainger (Brighton) and M. W. T. Ridley (East Grinstead).

The Chairman read the report of the referee, Mr. W. Davey, of Wivelsfield, who stated that, in the course of the match in question, a goal was scored by a Hurst player, which he allowed. The Cuckfield Captain disputed the goal as being off-side, and another player named W. Clarke, said to him (Mr. Davey), “I have seen better referees crawl out of ____ cheese.” He refused to give his name, and told the referee to ask the Captain. When ordered to leave the field he would not do so until the Club Secretary, who was playing in the match, advised him to. The report alleged that the Cuckfield Secretary came up to the referee and said, ” If I was not Secretary I should tell you what I think of you,” while the Cuckfield linesman also gave him a lot of cheek.

After the game was re-started Clarke again walked across the field, and the game had to be stopped for him. At the conclusion of the match the Captain poked him, and said “Are you going to report this, because we (the Club) can also send in a report?” Players and spectators made a ring round him (the referee) and there were cries of ’’Dump him in the pond,” and as he left someone said, “I don’t wish you any harm, but I hope you fall off your bike.” Mr. Davey concluded his report by stating that from the time the final whistle sounded until he left Cuckfield he had never been so much insulted in his life.

Asked if he had anything to add to his report, Mr. Davey said


to him that he (Mr. Davey) had not finished his apprenticeship yet. A statement was put in by the Cuckfield Club Secretary (Mr. F. Sendles), in which he alleged that the referee’s report greatly exaggerated the incidents. The trouble started when the referee allowed an off-side goal. Clarke never used foul language in the remark he made to the referee. Clarke never refused to leave the field, but said to him (Sendles) “Shall I go off?” and he advised Clarke to do so. What happened after the match was the referee’s own fault, he kept arguing with the spectators.

A letter was handed in from Clarke’s father, who said his son was suffering from influenza and could not attend the inquiry, but enclosed a statement. In this Clarke expressed his regret for the incident as a result of which he was sent off the field. He did say to another player that he had seen better referees crawl out of cheese, but he did not use the foul language alleged. He was not previously warned. When told to leave the field, he asked the Secretary, who said he had better go off, which he did. He did not walk across the field again but only across one corner while putting on his coat.

A further letter was read from Mr. A. T. Rapley (Chairman of the Cuckfield Club), who stated that the Committee much regretted the incidents.

Mr. Sendles acknowledged the remark attributed to him, and regretted it. It was said on the spur of the moment. There were not many spectators at the match, and the shouting came from lads. He did not consider there was any fear of the threats being carried out. He did his best to check the disturbance.

Mr. S. Rhodes, the Cuckfield linesman, said he went on the field to appeal for an off-side goal, and the referee sent him off. The spectators started “mouthing” the referee, and he (the linesman) chimed in.

Mr. J. Bennett, the Cuckfield Captain, said the referee asked Clarke for his name, and he said


and he (Bennett) gave it to the referee.

The reason why the game was stopped a second time was because he (Bennett) fouled an opponent accidentally and not because Clarke was on the field. He never remembered poking the referee with his fingers. He heard several remarks after the match, when he left the referee with the Secretary.

After deliberating in private the Commission recalled the referee, linesman and players. Mr. Denne said the matter had been considered very carefully, and they had decided that for foul and abusive language Clarke, whose absence was regretted, would be suspended for 14- days, Rhodes would be severely cautioned for insulting language to the referee, and Sendles was blamed for his indiscreet language which tended to incite others in their unruly conduct. With regard to Bennett, the Commission did not single him out for special consideration, but included him in a general caution to the Club. They considered that as Captain he should be prepared to check any misconduct. The Cuckfield Club was ordered to pay the expenses of the Commission.



bottom of page