King’s Lynn midfield duo not guilty on racism charges

King's Lynn midfielders Luke Thurlbourne and Kieran Doherty have been cleared of racism charges at a Norfolk FA hearing on Tuesday night.

A five-member county disciplinary panel found the duo not guilty following allegations made by UCL champions St Neots relating to the clubs' defining league meeting back in April.

A trio of Saints' players alleged they had been racially abused by Thurlbourne and Doherty during the champions' 4-2 league win at The Walks. Saints goalscorers that day, Stefan Moore and Dan Jacobs, were present at the Norwich inquiry along with their manager Dennis Greene and the St Neots' secretary. The third player involved from St Neots, Shane Tolley, was not present.

The referee, Mr S Barry, also gave evidence in a two and a half hour hearing attended by Town's management Kevin Boon and Gary Setchell.

'Our boys had to prove their innocence and they did it comfortably,' said Setchell. 'The lads were found not guilty on the weight of evidence. They said they were innocent from the off but even so it has been a horrible thing to have hanging over them. Now they can concentrate on playing football.

'We have to sit down and speak to Docs now as he is a non contract player whereas Luke is on a contract. He is a young lad and it was well documented if they had been found guilty they would have had to leave the football club. I think it had hit home to him he could be leaving King's Lynn, but now this is behind him I think we might have a big season from him.'

Fellow joint boss Boon represented the players at the hearing.

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'Boony went in as club representative and I was a witness,' said Setchell. 'They went in to hear Docs' case first and then Luke, but there were discrepancies between the two cases which Boony was able to point out. There was some confusion over when the statements were signed and so on. The referee was also present and he gave his statement in which he said he hadn't heard the comments.'

Town still face an FA Vase hearing on June 23 relating to incidents from their semi-final, second leg defeat against Coalville at The Walks.