It was supposed to be a pre-season friendly, a chance to build match-fitness and try out tactics ahead of the new campaign.
But when Spennymoor Town felt their match with fellow non-leaguers Newton Aycliffe was taking an "aggressive direction", they refused to play the second half.
Spennymoor, of the Northern Premier League Premier Division - the seventh tier of English football - said in a statement that it was "a risk" to continue the match, which was abandoned at the break with Aycliffe leading 1-0.
The club said that they considered "the welfare of our staff and players as a top priority".
"In over 40 years as a player, manager and chairman I've never seen anything like it," said Allan Oliver chairman of Northern Football League Division One side Newton Aycliffe.
"Neither team's physio set foot on the pitch and no players left it through injury so I was as gobsmacked as everyone else, including several Spennymoor players, when they chose not to come out for the second half.
"I am disappointed for our supporters who were enjoying watching us lead against a team two divisions higher than us."
Durham FA told BBC Sport that it would be investigating the incident between the two non-league sides.