Hornchurch boss ‘stunned’ by charges against former stars

Joe Woolley (L) and Reiss Noel both left AFC Hornchurch in July to move to Australia. Pic: Gavin Ell

Joe Woolley (L) and Reiss Noel both left AFC Hornchurch in July to move to Australia. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

McFarlane shocked after Woolley and Noel arrested in Australia

Hornchurch boss Jimmy McFarlane has expressed his shock after discovering that two of his former players – Joe Woolley and Reiss Noel – have been charged with betting-related corruption in Australia.

Goalkeeper Woolley and defender Noel, who now play for Southern Stars in the Victoria Premier League, have both been bailed to return to Melbourne Magistrates Court today (Friday).

Another four men have also been charged – two of whom are also believed to be British – following the probe into an alleged match-fixing ring.

Woolley and Noel both left Hornchurch in the summer, much to the annoyance of their manager who felt his pre-season preparations had been undermined by their sudden departure.

But he admits he was absolutely stunned to hear of the allegations made against the players and the charges they face.

McFarlane said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard the news.

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“The chairman rang me when I was out having lunch with my wife.

“I just couldn’t believe what he was telling me – I was just stunned.”

The news broke on Sunday that 10 men had been arrested following an investigation known as Operation Starlings into alleged match-fixing.

A statement from Victoria Police said: “Detectives have charged six men following a multi-million dollar match-fixing ring.

“Ten people were arrested on Sunday morning in a series of warrants across Melbourne.

“Two 23-year-old Preston men faced the out-of-sessions hearing and were both charged with four counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome or event or event contingency and four counts of facilitating conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome or event or event contingency.

“Reiss Michael Noel and Joe Nigel Woolley have been bailed to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on September 20.”

Hornchurch acknowledged the story with a club statement that said: “The board of directors of AFC Hornchurch are aware of recent developments in relation to alleged match-fixing in Australia’s Victoria Premier League.

“They were surprised and disappointed to hear that two former Hornchurch players had been connected with these allegations and hope that they will in due course be cleared of any involvement.”

Hornchurch chairman Colin McBride told Sky News: “They were with us for two seasons and they did very well. They were among our best performers, they were decent lads.”

Manager McFarlane is reluctant to draw any conclusions about the case until the full facts are established.

He said: “They were great lads when with me and, until we learn the true facts of the case, it’s hard to know what to make of it all.”

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