Alex Jack Cup – Club Secretary’s statement

Many of you reading this will by now be aware the East Of Scotland Football Assocation have taken the decision to debar the club from next season’s Alex Jack Cup, following an infringement of competition rules in last Saturday’s Millfield semi-final against Bo’ness United, which our visitors won with an injury time winner which took them through to the final, in which they were due to play Camelon Juniors on Sunday 25 November. It’s subsequently come to light that a significant administrative blunder on my part resulted in our fielding two ineligible players – Ali Simpson and Shaun Hill ought to have sat the tie out through suspension. It transpired also that our opponents too had been guilty of a similar offence, in that second half substitute Craig Comrie ought not to have played. The management committee of the East Of Scotland Football Association having discussed the matter also took the decision to expel Bo’ness from this season’s completion, effectively declaring Camelon the winners of the competition.

There’s inevitably been much online speculation and discussion already this morning following the Association’s announcement of the news, in the interests of transparency I’d like to make clear the background. In the Bo’ness case, Craig Comrie was newly registered to play for them following his recent return from a spell overseas – he ought not to have featured on Saturday however, on the grounds he’d incurred a two game ban while playing for Sauchie Juniors last season. That suspension not having been served, he wasn’t eligible to play for Bo’ness – it’s assumed an administrative oversight on the part of their secretary resulted in the unfortunate situation they now have to contend with. Our errors, from the viewpoint of now, appear inexplicable – as the guilty party I can only offer my sincere apologies to all affected by my errors, which must be put down to sheer inattention. It’s been stated in some quarters this season that the transition from Junior football to the new environment of the East Of Scotland League has caused clubs administrative confusion, given the different disciplinary system we now must adhere to – I’m afraid that’s not remotely an excuse I’d care to fall back on, as it’s simply not reasonable to do so. Individual clubs’ and players’ disciplinary records are clearly detailed on the SFA’s extranet, and unfortunately there’s really no reasonable explanation behind my failing to adhere to expectations. It might be easier to explain how this has happened if there were mitigating factors but ultimately my brain simply didn’t process the information available to me in plain sight. It’s a painful lesson for myself and the club, not without considerable embarrassment. There was absolutely no intention on anyone’s part to gain any advantage by fielding ineligible players – to have done so intentionally would be beyond reproach, and incredibly stupid given there are systems in place which highlight breaches of regulations.

Not much more can be said on what’s immediately an infamous episode. I’m not the first to be guilty of an administrative error in Scottish football and I won’t be the last. We move forward now with the rest of our season and look to put this incident behind us.

Tom Thornton, Secretary