“I had tears of joy in my eyes when they told me the decision,” says Jordan Turner, the local amateur football who has been handed a ban reprieve by the FA.
“It still hasn’t sunk in - I’ve finally get my life back and can do what I do best again.
“Scoring goals and playing the game that I love.”
Turner hit the headlines in these pages when he received a five-year ban from all football, after an altercation with a referee.
But after another disciplinary hearing, Turner’s ban has been reduced to 21 months - meaning the talented striker can now begin playing again from October.
He will do so at Hallam FC, after Ryan Hindley - who supported Turner through the appeal process - acquired his services.
The 25-year-old was overcome with emotion following the verdict, which was overseen by a five man panel including Mark Ives – the FA’s London-based discipline manager - and two members of the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA, who handed out the original sentence.
“I was preparing myself for the worst so when the answer came there were tears of joy in my eyes, I was absolutely gobsmacked,” said Jordan.
“Now I can get my life back and I have something amazing to focus on. It’s been such a difficult time but I just can’t wait to get back to full fitness and get on the pitch again - it’s a dream come true for both me and my family.
“Football really helps with my ADHD diagnosis, and so getting this result will help me in so many ways. I’m so grateful for all the support and help I’ve received through this process.
“I’d especially like to thank Mr Ives and the FA. I believe the right decision has been made and finally I have been treated fairly and the right justice has been served for the mistake I made.”
The FA had previously refused Jordan a second appeal against his sentence, of which he had served 14 months.
But a media offensive, which saw football figures including ex-referee Mark Halsey support Turner’s claim that the ban was too harsh, led to an FA rethink.
Turner was banned after being sent off in a Meadowhall Sunday League match against Devonshire Arms last December, for foul and abusive language whilst playing for Handsworth Turf Tavern.
The situation turned when the then 24-year-old grabbed referee John Reeves’ cards whilst the official was attempting to caution another player, and threw them - with one hitting the referee on the nose.
Jordan fully accepts he was in the wrong - but the severity of the original punishment split opinion. Some deemed it necessary in order to protect match officials in exposed positions, whilst others - including Hallam boss Hindley - called it “extreme” and “excessive.”
“It was a silly thing to do and clearly Jordan deserved to be punished,” said Hindley, who previously coached Jordan at Arbourthorne EA FC.
“But the first ban was ridiculous. It’s superb news about the change of heart and I want this talented player to learn from his mistake.
“Jordan is the sort of player you want in the dressing room because he’s a winner who will give his all on the pitch. I will advise him to play to his own game and not to get drawn into stupid situations again.
“He now needs to let his feet do the talking and I believe he can fit in really well at Hallam because I want him to be part of what we are building at the moment.”
Jordan added: “I was in the wrong and I’m very sorry for my actions but now I want to focus on the future and give my all to my next club.
“My main objective is to get my head down. It was like living under a prison sentence before... I was heartbroken.
“But now that black cloud can be lifted; I can’t wait to get those boots on and find the back of the net.”