BRADFORD Dudley Hill have suffered an administrative disaster, missing out on the end of season play-offs in the National Conference League (NCL) having being docked four points for fielding a banned player.

First-team manager Steve Wright questioned the communication from the NCL, claiming a vital email about the incident never arrived into chairman Lee O’Connor’s inbox.

The ruling, upheld last week, saw Hill drop to fifth in the Division Two table.

Even worse, wins for Hull Dockers and Barrow Island on the final day, coupled with Hill’s defeat to Bradford rivals West Bowling, left them one place and one point outside of the play-offs in seventh.

The player concerned was centre Martin Southwell (pictured inset). He had actually served his two game ban before taking to the field for Dudley Hill’s 22-16 league win at Shaw Cross Sharks in June but there was a problem.

It transpired later that the club had not paid the relevant fine that came with Southwell’s ban, meaning that he had not been cleared to return to action by NCL bosses.

The Bradford side appealed the ban but found out ahead of their crucial final-day clash at West Bowling that it would stand.

This meant Dudley Hill had to win on Saturday to stay in the play-off spots, but despite leading 16-10 with less than 20 minutes remaining, they collapsed in the final quarter to go down 32-16.

Speaking about the end of season drama, Wright said: “We were hoping to get it down to a two-point deduction on appeal, but the league have told us it has to be two points for playing the banned player and two for winning the game.

“In my 13 years at the club this has never been a problem. I’d sent a form in detailing the games Martin had missed but when the NCL admin rang back I was dealing with a personal issue, so I asked them to contact Lee about the fine.

“I thought it was sorted but Lee told me he never received an email from the NCL. We went through his inbox and there was no evidence of it and the NCL couldn’t prove they’d sent it to him.

“I feel that the NCL could look at changing the rules. You have 28 days to pay the fine but if you don’t maybe that could be doubled or you could re-ban the player, rather than docking points.

He was surprisingly upbeat though, saying: “At the end of last season, we only had £72 in our club accounts and were fighting just to stay in the NCL.

“But we’ve had a reasonable time this year (13 league wins from 22) so things are looking pretty rosy for us ahead of next season.”

Unfortunately one of their eight defeats (they had one draw) in 2019 came against West Bowling in that crucial final game.

Asked about the match, Wright said: "I don't think it was just the last quarter where we had problems. We were 10-0 up but they pulled it back to 10-4 right before half-time, which knocked the stuffing out of us a bit.

"We then went in front but in the last 20 minutes they just had more fitness from there. They're a young side, without many other commitments, and it showed."