In a pre-season 'friendly' between the first teams of Hamiltons and SK Walmers at Hamiltons' ground in Seapoint on 5 March, matters got nasty.
The player in question injured his leg and went off at half-time. With the volatile atmosphere at his own home ground, he went into the changing room to have a shower before departing for an X-ray. As is a regular occurrence with SK Walmers’ matches, there was much hostility in the crowd, and eventually this sparked off events.
Hamiltons' 14-year-old ball girl somehow became the scapegoat and was verbally abused by one of the SK Walmers player's father (the player, Ashieq Wise, played scrumhalf for SA U21 and the Pumas). Noticing what was going on, another Hamiltons player – who was watching that day due to injury – got involved to try and halt the mistreatment of the girl. At that point, the father allegedly punched the supporter, who then retaliated. From there, matters spiralled downwards, with a fight breaking out between the fans.
Wise – whose father initiated the incident – noticed what was happening, ran off the field, allegedly removed his boot and started hitting people with the studs. The SK Walmers supporters, enraged by the incident and baying for the Hammies supporter’s blood, went on what can only be described as a man-hunt.
In the process of attempting to lynch the fan who tried to stop the abuse of a 14-year-old girl, they went down the corridors leading into the changing rooms. Hearing the screams of his girlfriend outside the changing room (she was in tears after being cornered by the SK supporters), but being locked inside, the injured player went to the door and tried to look through the keyhole to work out what was happening.
As he put his head to the door, the supporters kicked it down and the door handle struck him on the forehead. That left him with a wound which required 37 stitches for the skin, and internal stitches which were present months after the incident.
The SK supporters had achieved their 'goal' of finding who they believed to be the supporter, and were still intent on physically abusing the injured victim, even though it was the wrong person (not that the supporter deserved to be attacked either). With much convincing against what was clearly an intoxicated crowd, they were eventually held back, but the damage had already been done.
This mob mentality is not what one would expect from a leading club in the Super League 1A. The force they used to barge open a locked and padlocked door showed their intentions, and that a club had to lock one of their own players in their changing room typifies the reputation SK Walmers have.
The reason it's taken so long to write this after the incident is because the clubs were initially hoping to resolve the matter 'internally'. A hearing was set up for 29 March at Newlands, but because the referee didn't pitch, it was postponed 'until further notice'.
After many attempts to reach some closure and have the hearing, it eventually took place on 8 July. By this stage, SK Walmers had already played over 10 league matches without sanction.
To read the outcome of the hearing CLICK HERE
By Grant Ball
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