Wisbech Town’s ex-bad boy gets football lifeline after three-year racism ban

FORMER Wisbech Town bad boy Tom Gosling has been handed a footballing lifeline after serving a three-year ban for racially abusing an opponent.

The hot-headed striker, who has previously played for Spalding United and was kicked out of Holbeach United in 2006 because of a poor disciplinary record, has been rescued by Peterborough Premier League side Pinchbeck United.

New Pinchbeck boss Ian Dunn believes the striker deserves a second chance, even though he was banned from playing in the Ridgeons League for two years for a string of disciplinary offences.

Gosling was charged with hurling abuse at black Felixstowe and Walton United centre-back Danny Ebanks in November 2007 while playing for the Fenmen. Cambridgeshire FA gave him a 42-day ban and �50 fine for the alleged comments before the racism charge was reported to Suffolk police.

Magistrates found him guilty of using racially aggravated threatening behaviour and handed him a three-year football banning order, ordering him to pay �100 compensation to Mr Ebanks, a �100 fine and �105 court costs.

Gosling’s criminal record meant he was banned from entering any football ground in England for three years and had to surrender his passport whenever the national side’s football team played abroad.

Cambs FA also gave Gosling a 182-day ban and �150 fine at a hearing for a separate charge of assaulting referee Stephen Artis after being booked for a late tackle in Wisbech’s 2-1 Boxing Day win over Swaffham Town in 2007.

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Gosling was found guilty of pushing the official - who sent the troubled striker off for a second bookable offence - despite insisting he did not make contact with the man in the middle.

Fenmen boss at the time, Roy McManus, said about the incident: “A lot of people told me that other managers had failed to handle Tom, but that did not concern me. He is a handful and that is exactly what I was looking for when I signed him.

“He had done very well for the club but the referee said he was threatened by Tom’s actions on Boxing Day and felt it could have escalated if a team-mate had not pulled him away.

“Tom is a lovely lad - a grafter on and off the pitch. But he has a hot temper which flares up occasionally and he let himself and the club down.

“He is paying the price with missing so long and has to undo the damage by returning to the game with better discipline.”

Gosling’s shameful record in five years of senior football included 34 yellow cards, 16 separate suspensions and a total spell of 72 weeks on the sidelines. He was also ordered to pay �540 in fines.

During his three-year spell on the sidelines Gosling has spent much of that time playing rugby for Spalding Rugby Club.

However, he was hauled in front of a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing in Coventry on 2008 to see whether his football banning order should prevent him from playing rugby.

Despite declaring his disciplinary record made for “sobering reading” the panel - which included RFU chairman John Loughton at the time - allowed him to play citing he had “obvious sporting talent”.

Gosling was warned that particular notice would be taken of his behaviour, and was urged not to let those down “whom have sponsored his entrance into the game of rugby and want him to succeed.”