NON LEAGUE: THE Grays Athletic goalkeeper who was banned from football for a year has officially appealed against the Football Association’s controversial decision.

Keeper Lamar Johnson who was banned following an after match incident, believes he has a strong case against the decision.

Grays stalwart and former chairman Andy Swallow, says that he thinks that the club let down the player by giving him the impression that he did not need to attend the original investigation.

Swallow said: “As a club, I think that we did not take as much notice of this as we should have done. “We thought that there would be a six to eight week ban – we had no idea that they would go for 12 months.

“We know Lamar and he’s a good lad. If half the things he was accused of at the investigation were true I’d have got rid of him. But they weren’t. There will be a new panel for the appeal and we hope this will be in about three weeks time.” Johnson has branded the investigation process as flawed as he thought that he was looking at a short ban. But Johnson has praised the support he has received from both players and management at Blues who are battling to stay in the Ryman Premier League.

“I’m still in training with the team and with the lads and everyone is being brilliant about it,” he said. But the Newham-based 21-year-old keeper, who has been at Grays for two years, feels that he has been let down by the FA’s system.

Johnson was banned after an investigation into the incident which took place when Blues played Bury Town in September.

Johnson admitted the charge of “exhibiting violent conduct or threatening behaviour” in the tunnel area, after the game. He was fined £550, on top of the 12 months suspension which rules him out of football until 2015.

But Johnson, who did not have the £200 needed to attend an investigation into the incident, says he had been advised not to go and that the whole thing would lead to only a four or five match ban. Instead – and without hearing his verbal account of the incident – the FA slapped the punishment on the young footballer.

“I feel that I have not had the chance to put my side of the story properly. “It was done through letters and I feel angry at the way that it was done,” he said.

Johnson said that had he known that the investigation could lead to such a lengthy ban he would have found the £200 necessary and had the time off college to attend. But instead he believes that the Bury footballer involved in the incident – central defender Adam Bailey-Dennis – attended and had his chance to have his say. Johnson said: “Andy Swallow has been helping me compose an appeal and said that he would speak to them.” And Johnson has the backing of Blues manager Ryan Kirby too.

Johnson said: “The boss thinks that the severity is stupid.”

Johnson claims that Bailey-Dennis, who had not even been on the pitch for the match said something to him in the tunnel.

Bailey-Dennis had been in the stand during the match, but he went into the tunnel after the final whistle.

Johnson says that after some initial comments from Bailey-Dennis, Johnson said: “Yeah, whatever.” But Johnson claims there were more comments and that a certain amount of ‘trash talk’ took place on both sides before the altercation became more physical and eventually police were called.

For all the borough's non league see Thursday's THURROCK GAZETTE