It was all supposed to be so different. Phoenix club AFC Croydon Athletic making its debut in the world’s oldest and most historic football competition, the FA Cup, a sign that the club had really come back from beyond the brink of extinction.
The Rams were already 5-2 down and on their way out of the cup when the referee called over one of their players, a substitute who had recently been brought on, asking him to remove his black cycling shorts which did not match the maroon AFC kit.
The player duly trotted off the pitch to do so. When he asked to return to the field of play, the referee told the player that he needed to see that he had indeed removed the offending items.
Again, the Croydon Athletic player obliged, this time dropping his shorts. This was the sort of tackle that the ref did not want to see. The red-faced referee duly flashed his red card for the indecent exposure.
There was a second red card a moment later, when the referee ordered the Rams’ manager, Anthony Williams, from the dug-out, apparently for using foul and abusive language. Those that were closest to the incident reckoned Williams was merely describing what he had just seen.
The game ended, with Croydon Athletic down to 10 men, and losing 6-2. Historians at FA headquarters this morning were unable to confirm whether this is the first instance in the FA Cup’s illustrious 141-year history of a player being sent off for indecent exposure.
Those dreams of the Wembley final will have to wait for another year.
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