A Harryville Homers player had to go on a “liquid diet” for six weeks after his jaw was fractured by a rival when they met in a Ballymena street.
The injured party, Darren Campbell, plays for Harryville Homers - current holders of the Junior Cup and Junior Shield - and also lead the Ballymena Saturday Morning League ahead of All Saints Old Boys.
Paddy Hudson (30), of Bamber Park, Ballymena, is a player/coach with All Saints Old Boys, and after he contested the charge at Ballymena Magistates Court he was convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Campbell during an incident in 2015.
Sentencing has been adjourned until the end of April and District Judge Peter King told the defendant he had in mind a “community disposal” and financial compensation to be given to Mr Campbell.
In court both players said they knew each other through football and gave conflicting accounts, claiming each had been the aggressor in the case.
Judge King said it was an unusual case and he had a “very clear version of events” from Mr Campbell. He said the incident was “quite frankly handbags at dawn” and had the serious injury not emerged he was sure the case would not have gone any further.
However he said he was “just about satisfied” Hudson, who had a clear record, had caused the injury, whether he had intended to do so or not.
Mr Campbell told the court he was drinking in the Fountain Bar in Ballymena watching sport on TV and left at 5.45pm on October 31, 2015, after having one drink to go and get cigarettes.
He said when he was in the William Street area he heard somebody shout his name and when he turned round Hudson hit him on the face.
Mr Campbell said he knew Hudson though football and asked why he did it and claimed the defendant replied: “You know what it’s for”.
Mr Campbell said he was “not the aggressor”.
Mr Campbell said William Street was a “bad area” and he left and had a few more drinks before going home but early the next day he awoke in “absolute agony” and went to hospital where it was established his jaw had been fractured.
He said he did not need surgery but was put on a “six-week liquid diet”.
Mr Campbell said he and Hudson had an argument about five years previously in the Countryman’s pub but said they shook hands after football games.
Mr Campbell said he continued drinking because he was on “adrenalin” and didn’t know his jaw was broken and after he discovered the injury he reported the matter to police, saying: “I just didn’t want him to get away with it”.
Hudson told the court he left the Slemish Bar after probably having two pints and was walking along William Street to meet his wife in another pub when he saw Mr Campbell approach.
He alleged Mr Campbell was “being loud” and boisterous before alleging Mr Campbell lunged at him and “grabbed me by the throat”.
Hudson said he was scared as Campbell “is quite a bit bigger” and he “wrestled” him to try and get him off and added: “I definitely did not, 100 per cent, punch him”.
The defendant said he did not report the matter to the police as he did not want to “involve something like this through the football team” as it would have made the situation a “lot worse”.
He claimed Mr Campbell, was “the aggressor the whole time” and he did not know how he had been injured.