Boldon Shack manager Brian Johnson has defended his club after they were reinstated into the Durham County Sunday Cup.
Shack, who lost on penalties against Peterlee Catholic Club in the quarter-final, were reprieved when their opponents were booted out by Durham FA for fielding an ineligible player.
Shack have come under attack from several quarters, who claim they knew the Peterlee player – who wasn’t registered within seven days of the tie being played – was ineligible but didn’t tell Catholic Club until after the game, and then reported the incident to Durham FA.
However, Johnson says his club have done nothing wrong.
He said: “We told Catholic Club before the player came on as a substitute that we thought he was ineligible, but they didn’t take any notice. They thought they were in the right because their league had told them so.
“The lad came on and was booked, and scored one of the penalties, so it was always going to get flagged up to Durham FA.
“This wasn’t poor sportsmanship from us. We went back to their pub after the game and we had conversations with them, saying that something could come of it. We haven’t stabbed them in the back.
“It’s an honest mistake by them but we aren’t responsible for them being removed from the competition, that is Durham FA’s decision.”
A tweet from Peterlee Catholic Club said: “We signed a lad and after checking with our league officials were told he was eligible, he played 20 minutes Sunday and was named on the teamsheet so not a ringer. Club was unaware of 7 day rule, paid the price for an honest mistake.”
There had been suggestions that the game should have been replayed but Durham FA made the decision to follow the rules and kick Catholic Club out of the competition.
Shack will now face Sedgefield St Edmunds in the semi-final on March 3.
Johnson added: “It’s a lifeline for us. We didn’t deserve to go through as we were poor on Sunday and we’re not happy with the way it has happened.
“Myself and the lads would prefer a replay but that’s the decision taken by Durham FA and they have already kicked another team out for similar.
“Rules are rules, and we’ve had the same thing happen to us in the past. It’s unfortunate but we need to take this opportunity now.”