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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 21:12 GMT
Darts league bans 'anti-gay' team
Stag players say they were the target of homophobic behaviour
A pub darts team in Brighton has been banned for life for alleged homophobic behaviour towards an opposing gay and lesbian side.

Players from the Bevendean Hotel are alleged to have insulted gay players based at the Stag pub, in December.

The team, banned from the Sussex United Darts League, is said to have refused to shake hands or eat at the pub.

But the Bevendean players deny the claims and say they were not given a chance to tell their version of events.

We cannot tolerate homophobic behaviour of any kind
Peter Crook, league secretary

The Stag players say the other team refused to shake hands or eat food "in case they caught anything".

One female Stag contestant said the Bevendean women taunted her in the toilet and asked her if the was "in the right loo".

The league has barred the Bevendean players for life and told the Bevendean Hotel it cannot enter a team for three years.

Secretary Peter Crook said: "We cannot tolerate homophobic behaviour of any kind."

He said he had been sent a letter claiming the Stag used their sexuality to complain because they lost the match.

wooden spoon trophies
The Stag players are proud of their two wooden spoons

Stag landlord and team player Derek Henderson said: "We did not use our sexuality or anything else to gain points.

"We have won the wooden spoon for coming bottom twice now, and every year we have gone along to the awards ceremony to happily pick it up."

Mr Henderson said his team would play the Bevendean again if the players apologised.

Stag captain Fran Bailey said: "There was nothing physical, but it was all verbal and very unpleasant and very unnerving for other team members."

'Sour grapes'

Penny Priest, Bevendean landlady, said: "We cannot believe it has happened, that they can do that to people without letting them defend themselves.

"I was never offered a hand to shake, otherwise I and all my side would have done.

"I never heard any of my side make any anti-gay comments. The lads in the side are placid and certainly not homophobic.

"The only conclusion I can make is that it is just sour grapes."

The team has been banned under the league's rule 11 covering sportsmanlike behaviour which states that any player misconducting themselves at a league venue will be expelled, without any right to appeal.

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