Mesh the tunnel
By STEVE SPINKS
ITALO Stars Soccer Club treasurer John Deconti believes the ugly scenes that resulted in a half-full beer can being thrown at referee Luke Mackney following Saturday night's Football Far North Coast premier division grand final at Lismore's Oakes Oval could have been avoided.
Deconti, who was one member of the Stars club who tried to settle down the more unruly spectators, is upset the incident has tarnished his club's image, but he is adamant a proportion of the blame should be attributed to Football Far North Coast, ground security and the match officials involved.
We don't condone anything like that (beer cans being thrown)," Deconti said.
And we'll be trying to find the person responsible, but the situation could have been handled better."
Deconti believes the referees should have stayed on the field after the match, allowing some time to go by before approaching the crowd.
He also believes alcohol should have been more strictly controlled at the event and that more security should be made available for matches at Oakes Oval and that they be utilised in a way to protect the match officials.
There were eight security guards employed by Football FNC.
Deconti also said Lismore Council should completely mesh the Oakes Oval tunnel to avoid the possibility of an incident like this happening again.
Mackney, who was officiating in his first grand final, was called a f------ cheat by a player in the Oakes Oval tunnel at half-time and was later harangued by some Stars players as he left the field.
Two Stars players had to be restrained by Rovers players at the conclusion of the match.
However, it was as Mackney walked down the Oakes Oval tunnel that things turned ugly.
A section of the crowd yelled abuse at the 23-year-old referee, sprayed beer and a spectator threw a beer can at the referee. In footage seen by The Northern Star, the spectator was holding an Italian flag.
The events unfolded after Mackney had red-carded two Stars players during the match and awarded two penalties, one of which was converted for the 1-0 scoreline.
Mackney will be submitting two misconduct reports to Football FNC to investigate from the match.
Sport can become emotional for some people," Deconti said.
Not everyone has the same temperament.
You can't ask every spectator that comes into a ground if they are going to be good or bad.
We try our hardest to control our crowds but in the end the actions of one person is up to him."
Deconti also said that the referees needed to be more approachable for players and clubs and that he would like to see further education resources put into the FNC Referees Association.