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It's Been 21 Years Since The Fastest Red Card In Football History And We Found The Man Responsible

Jack Kenmare

Published 

It's Been 21 Years Since The Fastest Red Card In Football History And We Found The Man Responsible

Lee Todd is still in disbelief, 21 years on from the infamous Sunday League incident that made national news. "I thought he was just joking but no. He was adamant. I was off the pitch after two seconds...I just couldn't believe it."

It remains one of the most bizarre moments in football history, but what REALLY happened on that memorable weekend in Somerset?

On this day in 2000, during a clash between local rivals Cross Farm Park Celtic and Taunton East Reach Wanderers, the fastest red card since records began was brandished by no-nonsense referee Peter Kearle, just seconds into the game.

"You've got to be kidding me?" said a stunned Todd after the card was given. Looking back, It was a completely fair reaction.

Image: South West News Service
Image: South West News Service

The incident played out just moments after both teams entered the field of play.

"We were about to kick-off and the referee reminded us about swearing like he normally did," Todd told SPORTbible. "And as he walked past me, he blew the whistle for kick-off but blew it right in my ear.

"I bent down, muttered "fuck me, ref, that was loud!" and the next thing I knew, I had a red card in my face."

Just two seconds in and Kearle had given the Cross Farm Park Celtic striker his marching orders, citing 'foul and abusive language' as the reason behind his early bath.

The 22-year-old was fined £27 and banned for 35 days for the "Fuck me, that was loud!" comment.

"I let him know that he nearly burst my eardrum." Lee, now 42, says. "I was like, 'are you are taking the piss' and he said 'no, you're off. You've just sworn and I told you not to.'

"Before the game, he said any swearing was unacceptable but all I did was bend down, with my head in my hands, and just shouted. That's all I did. It wasn't directed towards him. I was just swearing to myself.

"I thought he was just taking the mick."

Image: PA
Image: PA

As Todd left the pitch, his teammates were "laughing their heads off", according to the full-time builder.

"They thought it was a joke too but it soon hit us when we realised we were down to ten men. I had to stand there for an hour and a half and just watch the game."

Mark Heard, who was manager of Cross Farm Park Celtic at the time, was also in a state of shock.

"Of course, players should be sent off for swearing directly at the referee or another player," he said. "But referees are supposed to use a bit of common sense. Lee was obviously swearing to himself."

Despite the early exit of their star striker, ten-man Cross Farm Park Celtic strolled to victory with an 11-2 win against their opponents.

It still wasn't enough to put a smile on Lee's face.

"The result pissed me off even more, to be honest. It was the only Saturday night I'd stayed in for 12 months!"

Image: PA
Image: PA

The next week or so would be a whirlwind few days for Todd, who was all over the news for his unfortunate and, quite frankly hilarious, Sunday League dismissal.

"The next thing I knew it was all over the papers," Lee says.

"Sky Sports came down and did a re-enactment at the football club. I was also on the building site when a reporter came down as well. It was all over the place."

To this day people still talk about the famous two second red card. "Dad's mention it to their kids when I'm watching the kids play football.

"But for some reason, everyone thinks I've been sent off loads of times. That was actually the only time. I haven't been sent off since either. Never before and never since!"

Reports even suggested Todd visited the doctor with a hearing problem believed to have been caused by the referee's whistle blast, but we can finally confirm that wasn't the case.

"No, that's not true." he laughed. "Someone is taking the piss there!"

Image: Google
Image: Google

Ten years on and, despite the record receiving a huge amount of coverage in the press and on television, The Guinness Book of Records have never properly recognised it in their official books.

Lee's wife did try and get in touch with the publisher a few months back, asking why it has yet to be included, but they never responded.

"I mean, it doesn't bother me. It should be classed as a record though," Lee, who now plays for Taunton District side Alcombe Rovers, says.

"People keep asking if the record will ever be beaten. I don't know how someone would beat it, to be honest."

Featured Image Credit: South West News Service

Topics: Sunday League, Football

Jack Kenmare
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