Ncobo reacts

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

First it was a ball-boy who felt the wrath of a referee when he was given marching orders for delaying play at the Rand Stadium in a match in the 1999-2000 season.

The boy was sent off by Ian McLeod for his delaying tactics in fetching the balls to benefit his team, Moroka Swallows, who were leading Ria Stars in that match. The move was unheard of in local football and "many viewed it as 'historical'.

Soccer enthusiasts had to wait for eight seasons for history to be rewritten at a local soccer match.

This happened on Sunday when renowned referee Ace Ncobo was officiating in an awe-inspiring Nedbank Cup last-32 phase tie at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town.

Ncobo, who is also on the Fifa and CAF's referees' panel, left spectators at the stadium and television viewers thunderstruck when he sent off a paramedic in the second half of the encounter.

The likeable middleman yesterday described the move as its own first. But he was quick to point out that he did not give the paramedic the marching orders in order for him to write about in football history records.

"I was forced by his action to send him off. He was always remonstrating with my assistant (Simphiwe Jibiliza) and I reprimanded him after Jibiliza complained about it at half-time. But he continued to verbally abuse my assistant and I was left with no alternative but to send him off," Ncobo explained.

He added: "That paramedic is a staunch Santos' supporter and he wanted to see his team win the match. I told his supervisor not to allow him at soccer matches again and he should rather be assigned to accidents on the roads."

Edries Burton, Santos' chief operations officer, laughed when Sowetan reminded him about the incident regarding the overzealous paramedic.

Burton would, however, not admit that the paramedic was their fan.