Published: 15:53, 27 September 2019
| Updated: 20:33, 27 September 2019
A cricket team was knocked for six after they were relegated for accusing rival players of mocking their one-handed batsman.
Father-of-two Adam, who was born with no fingers on his left hand, claimed opposition players asked mocking questions like: "Do you want a hand with that?"
Swanscombe and Greenhithe abandoned the match and put in an official complaint with Kent Regional Cricket League Management Committee.
But the team were horrified when a counter-complaint from BOCA accused them of cheating by abandoning the match - to avoid losing.
Both teams were docked ten points after officials said "both clubs condone sledging and cheating", but the ruling left leaders BOCA at the top of the league - and Adam's team - Swanscombe and Greenhithe - to be relegated.
Adam, a finance manager, said: "I'm fed up with the sheer hypocrisy of the whole situation.
"It started when having to use my teeth to put my batting gloves on. It was unpleasant, and a really horrible feeling.
"I hadn't been spoken to like that since I was a 12-year-old boy."
He claims that during an away game at Dulwich in August opposition players "howled and jeered" at his disability.
He claimed a player taunted "we'll be fine, he won't be able to bat it" and "if he doesn't hit it with the bat, he may as well try hitting it with the club."
"Some of them didn't even try to hide the fact they were laughing... I kept having to stop because I was so angry and so upset" - Adam Harding
Adam, who has been playing at the club since he was 15, said things got so rowdy the umpire intervened to warn BOCA its behaviour went "above and beyond the spirit of the game".
He said: "Everything they said to me felt like it was directed at my disability. It was okay at first, because I thought it would stop. But it just kept going and going.
"I could see them talk between themselves, looking at me, some of them pointing - and all the while smirking at me.
"Some of them didn't even try to hide the fact they were laughing. I kept having to stop because I was so angry and so upset."
But BOCA said it was just a misunderstanding - due to a poor choice of words.
A spokesman for BOCA said a player heard Adam state he couldn't hold the bat during innings - and retorted "we can see that" - referring to his standard of batting.
BOCA claimed that a Swanscombe player then pointed out that Adam was "performing with one hand" and claims the player hadn't realised, and apologised.
He said: "No further mention was made in reference to Adam's disability.
"They chose to abandon the game to boost their points tally, and use that incident as their reason for abandonment.
"At no time did any of our players wilfully mock any players because of their disability.
"The truth is that Swanscombe were clearly being beaten, and looking desperately for points to avoid relegation" - BOCA spokesman
"A comment made during was completely misrepresented, even though the BOCA player apologised as soon as it was pointed out that the player was disabled.
"The truth is that Swanscombe were clearly being beaten, and looking desperately for points to avoid relegation."
During second innings, Adam's team abandoned the match and filed a complaint to the leagues management committee where their secretary slammed the bullying as "going far beyond what is considered to be sledging within the spirit of the game".
However, the committee ruled on Thursday, September 5, that both teams had "breached the League Constitution" and took 10 points from each.
Since the match was abandoned "well into" second innings, and bullying was said to have occurred during the first, they disputed the cause of abandonment, they claim.
The committee also said there were other issues such as 'poor' umpiring decisions that led to the Swanscombe players leaving the field of play.
Swanscombe and Greenhithe appealed the decision - so the committee advised the club resign its club membership instead.
He said BOCA finished top of the league with a score of 278, but his team was relegated with a score of 199, second last in the 10-club league
A spokesman for Swanscombe and Greenhithe said the club has "never encountered such abhorrent attitudes toward" Adam's disability.
They added: "We are disappointed the League have taken action so far that punishes us with relegation but does not really affect our opposition's position."
The KRCL management committee said it treated allegations of bullying "very seriously".
A spokesman added: "There were other issues which led to the match being abandoned, and this is a completely separate incident."
"It is clear from the reports received that both clubs condone sledging and cheating and this is one of the reasons why both clubs have been penalised.
"Both clubs have bought the league and the game of cricket into disrepute.
"Due to this incident and a number of other issues at the end of the season, the League is currently in lock down."
More by this authorSean McPolin