One of Wellington's top club footballers has been slapped with an 11-month ban today after allegedly kicking a prone opposition player in the head and body.
Capital Football today announced that Stop Out star Joe Gaughan had been suspended from "all football related activities" for 11 months following his actions in a fiery Capital Premier league game against Lower Hutt City on August 9.
An eyewitness - a Stop Out club member for more than 20 years who did not want to be named - claimed that a Lower Hutt player was targeting Gaughan with physical play throughout the game before he "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."
Referee Bryan Botha sent four players off in the game at Hutt Park, two from each side.
Englishman Gaughan is easily the competition's leading scorer with 24 goals - the next best player has 11.
Stop Out are on track for promotion to the top-tier Central League on the back of his goals.
Gaughan took to Facebook after the game to apologise in a post that has since been removed.
He 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," Gaughan 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."
- The Dominion Post
Who was the best player in the NRL this year?Related story: (See story)