WHAT was supposed to be one of the sweetest victories for Labasa in the domestic soccer tournament, turned sour following the walkout in the 1999 Fiji FACT final at Subrail Park.
The hosts took on Lautoka in the showdown and were on track to win their second Fiji FACT title before the drama unfolded, bringing down the curtains to what was an exciting weekend of soccer.
Lautoka officials claimed their goalkeeper Iosefo Vosaboto was stoned by the Labasa fans in the extra-time play.
The westerners had earlier reported their players getting stoned by Labasa fans following the team's win over the northerners in the pool play.
The Nasoni Buli-coached Lautoka booked its place in the final after beating Tavua 1-0, thanks to the goal from Josevata Malakai.
Labasa overcame Ba 10-9 via penalty kicks after both teams were locked 1-all following extra-time.
All 11 players took the spot kicks and it was the individual brilliance of goalkeeper Maikeli Sakeo that gave the Babasiga Lions the historic win.
Yours truly was in Class Five then and was part of the 9000-plus crowd that attended the final.
Lautoka marched into the game as the favourites after beating Labasa 2-1 in pool play but Labasa, with the home crowd behind them, looked equally good.
Labasa scored the opener in the fourth minute through their 'saint' coach/captain Taniela Tuilevuka after his free kick deflected off the crossbar into the goal.
Lautoka replied with the Jope Namawa stunner in the 13th minute to level the game 1-1.
Both teams tried to score the winner in the second spell but superb performances by the goalkeepers Vosaboto and Sakeo saw the match ending in 1-all draw.
Labasa scored through Solomone Seruiratu's header in the opening spell of extra-time to take the 2-1 lead.
The Labasa fans went frenzy and security officers had to step in to stop them from throwing empty plastic bottles into the field.
Lautoka did not return into the field for the second spell of extra time play claiming Vosaboto was hit by a stone which took his focus from the match resulting in the goal from Seruiratu.
Referee Intiaz Shah abandoned the match and gave it to the Fiji Football Association to decide the outcome.
Tuilevuka claimed the walkout was part of dirty tactics by Lautoka. "I spoke with the spectators at ground and they said there were only Coke bottles and no stones," Tuilevuka said after the match.
"What Lautoka did was unprofessional. They could have scored a goal in the remaining 10 minutes. Anything could have happened."
Lautoka coach Buli said they were concerned about the safety of their players.
After studying the submissions from both teams and referees report, Fiji FA board of control handed the title and $7000 prizemoney to Labasa.
Lautoka Football Association, however, took the matter to court.
The Lautoka High Court restrained the Fiji FA from awarding the title and prizemoney to Labasa but later lifted its orders.
Lautoka won its first Fiji FACT title a year later in 2000 after beating Nadroga 2-0 at Prince Charles Park in Nadi.
But for Labasa, the controversial win in 1999 was the last time they held the FACT title.
1999 FACT final team list
Lautoka: Bakalevu Moceimereke, Vilikesa Bola, Joji Rasila, Tama Vosuga, Amenatave Sova, Kartik Kumar, Vosaboto, Josevata Malakai, Maika Waqa, Jope Namawa, Shalesh Sami
Labasa: Sanaila Bera, Viliame Lauitki, Epeli Levaci, Gordon Lee Wai, Jovilisi Duguca, Seruiratu, Buli Cama, Tuilevuka, Boko Bainivalu, Maikeli Sakeo, Jope Lomu, Solomone Catarogo