One of Wellington's top club footballers is facing a lengthy ban after he allegedly kicked a prone opposition player in the head and body - sparking a bench-clearing brawl in front of stunned spectators.
A Stop Out club member for more than 20 years contacted The Dominion Post during the week to give his account of last Saturday's Capital Premier game between league leaders Stop Out and Lower Hutt City at Hutt Park, in which four players, two from each team, were sent off.
The eyewitness did not want to be named but said the brawl was triggered when a Stop Out player lashed out at a Lower Hutt player midway through the second half.
The witness claimed the Lower Hutt player was targeting the Stop Out player with physical play throughout the game before the Stop Out player "snapped" midway through the second half.
"He was heavily targeted throughout the game by one individual player and, unfortunately, he just snapped," the witness said. "A Lower Hutt guy came in with a bad challenge which resulted in a guy from Stop Out lashing out at him.
"There was one kick to the head, several to the upper body area and it was just all on.
"Both benches were in, it was pretty bad. I've been there over 20 years and it was probably the worst thing I've seen in my entire time at the club."
The Stop Out player did not respond to requests for an interview, while the Lower Hutt player declined to comment. The Stop Out player took to Facebook after the game to apologise in a post that has since been removed.
In the post the player admitted he had let the club down but argued he was not in the wrong and had retaliated after being punched. "What would you do if someone punched you in the face twice? I retaliated and yeah I will face the music and accept the punishment," he wrote.
"But under no circumstances, football pitch, street, library wherever, will I ever let anyone punch me in the face.
"Definitely not twice. I'm not proud and by no means happy about anything that happened today but I stuck up for myself and looked after myself when I needed to, so that's all that matters.
"As I say, I will be getting a hefty ban, and I am prepared to accept that . . . Once again sorry to the lads but I did what I had to do."
Capital Football chief executive Richard Reid said a decision on punishment would be made early next week.
The four red-carded players are automatically suspended from today's games.
"Given the reasonably serious nature of things, I want to get a bit of information from other parts of New Zealand because we haven't seen something like this in recent times," Reid said. "It's important we get that right."
Reid would not directly comment on the incidents in question but did not dispute the witness' version.
The witness said many in the crowd of about 100 were stunned by the brawl.
"I was talking to a parent after the game and he was just mortified that his son had to see all that. There was a game on the opposite field. It stopped for about two minutes and everyone was just standing there watching.
"There were people that were stunned and people that were also getting quite wound up as well - it was pretty bad."
Stop Out chairman Neil Kemp and Lower Hutt president Jim Baxter declined to comment, saying they would respect Capital Football's processes and await a decision.
- The Dominion Post
Did you celebrate at least one local sports victory at Labour weekend?Related story: Nathan Burns the key man in fine Phoenix win