A referee called off a New Zealand secondary schools premier football match because he felt it was unsafe for a player to wear spectacles, even though they were specially made for football.

The game between Napier Boys' High School and Wakatipu High School (Otago) in Napier was abandoned even before it started.

Midfielder Leslie Taylor, 16, has been playing soccer with glasses on for the past decade. The NBHS fifth-former said a Napier optometrist had designed a custom-made pair for him to wear for sport.

"I got them made four months ago," said Taylor, who wears glasses as an inter-city representative cricketer as well, although he dons a helmet when batting.

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"The ball has hit me on the face many times before and dented the frame but it never broke."

A distraught Taylor, who has played for the Napier City Rovers first division men's team and various Hawkes Bay age-group teams over the years, thought "it was pretty harsh".

In the second game against Shirley Boys' High, of Christchurch, he played without his glasses.

"I was pretty gutted because I couldn't see the ball properly and my eyes started to hurt," he said after the sides were locked 0-0 before succumbing 8-7 in a penalty shootout.

With officials awarding Wakatipu a 2-0 win for the abandoned game, NBHS, who are seeded 13th in the national tourney, were relegated from the top 16 play-offs to a lower tier where they can finish 17th at best.

Napier lodged an appeal against the abandonment but lost. Their coach, Rob Gunn, was livid with the referee.

"In my opinion this referee should put the whistle down and do something else."

Taylor wore his glasses for other games.

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Optometrists have said they are unable to prescribe disposable contact lenses for him.

"I might have to sit out games now because my eyes are sore when they start straining."

Central Football general manager Phil Holt said: "The referee can allow them to play or not so he was within his rights [to abandon the game]."

Football refs do not allow players to wear jewellery, including rings and necklaces.

Former New Zealand cricket captain Daniel Vettori wore glasses in international and domestic games for many years.

- APN

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