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SENT OFF AFTER TWO SECONDS; Lee swore over ref's loud blast on whistle.

FOOTBALLER Lee Todd told yesterday how he was sent off just two seconds after the referee blew his whistle to start the game.

Lee, 22, was right beside the ref when he gave what seemed a super-shrill blast to get the Sunday League match under way.

Deafened by the noise, bricklayer Lee doubled up in shock and muttered to himself: "F*** me, that was loud."

Referee Peter Kearle instantly pulled out a red card and ordered off six-footer Lee for swearing.

Lee, now almost certainly the record holder for the fastest sending-off in football, said yesterday: "Anyone else would have done the same - he nearly blew my ear off.

"I was gobsmacked. I wasn't swearing at the ref, or anyone else. I'm surprised he even heard me. I was just muttering to myself.

"Football is a man's game and players swear all the time.

"The other players stood in silence...it was just unbelievable."

Lee, from Minehead, Somerset, has now been fined pounds 27 by a local disciplinary body and banned for 35 days for using "foul and abusive language". The star striker for Cross Farm Park Celtic vows not to pay the fine and is planning an appeal to the Football Association.

Lee, whose side was playing Taunton East Reach Rovers, was at the edge of the centre circle when Mr Kearle ran up behind him and blew his whistle to start the game.

Team-mates confronted the official about Lee's dismissal, but he refused to explain his decision.

Club boss Mark Heard said: "Of course, players should be sent off for swearing directly at the ref or another player. But refs are supposed to use a bit of commonsense."

Lee's team won 11-2. He has since seen a GP about hearing problems.

The FA and the Guinness Book of Records think it is the quickest dismissal. Whether it stands remains to be seen. Ref Mr Kearle said: "It is in FA hands."
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Author:Savage, Richard
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2000
Words:323
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