A REFEREE was forced to abandon a football game when a player brandished a knife after a fight broke out.

The incident took place at a match between Heroes and the Railway Academicals which was held at Southend High School for Girls on Saturday.

The referee was forced to abandon the match after a scuffle resulted in one player bringing a knife onto the pitch.

A witness who was at the game said: “There was a minor confrontation between two players.

“After play had re-started, one of them went to the touchline briefly and came back onto the pitch.

“I didn’t see the knife at first - there was a lot of shouting from both players and spectators and he was quickly surrounded.

“Somehow the knife ended up on the ground.”

The referee was handed the knife by a spectator who was forced to give the player a red card, abandon the game before it finished and call the police.

A spokesman for the Essex FA said: “We are investigating a misconduct report submitted by the referee of a match which took place on Saturday, March 9 in the Southend area.

“As this report was specific regarding the abandonment of the match, we are raising a charge against the individual involved and will be placing an Interim Suspension Order against them until such time as the case is considered.”

It is not known which team the player played for at this time.

Essex Police confirmed they were called but are appealing for witnesses as the suspect had left the scene before they arrived.

A spokesman added: “We were called at around 4.15pm on Saturday, March 9, with reports from a third party that man had been threatened with a knife outside Southend High School for Girls, in Southchurch Boulevard.

The incident took place at around 3.45pm and the suspect, who has been described as being black and aged in his late 30s, left the scene.

Anyone with information is asked to call Southend police station on 101 quoting 42/38647/19 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The Railway Academicals declined to comment on the matter and Heroes were unavailable for comment by the time the Echo went to print.