A FOOTBALL thug has been spared jail after smashing a rival player’s face when violence erupted on the pitch.
David Paul, 24, left victim Chris Locke with permanent injuries after he launched his attack during a cup game between Peterlee Town and Percy Main Amateurs FC last year.
Chris today hit out after Paul, of Polden Court, Peterlee, was allowed to walk free after admitting assault at Newcastle Crown Court.
“I have been playing football for more than 20 years and never known anything like it,” said the Percy Main team captain.
“It’s the type of thing you expect to happen on the Bigg Market in Newcastle, but for it to happen in a football match is just bizarre.
“We all play football to enjoy ourselves.”
PE teacher Chris’s team were up 4-0 at home when the 25-year-old noticed trouble started to flare between Paul and one of his team-mates, so Chris went over to calm them down.
“It had been a really good-natured game until then,” he said.
“I could see he was aggressive, so in my role as captain, I just asked him to calm it.”
But next time Paul got close to Chris on the pitch he elbowed him in the face, knocking him out.
“He said he was going to ‘do me’ and within 30 seconds the ball was in the air and he looked back and just elbowed me in the face.”
Chris, from Newcastle, was taken to North Tyneside General Hospital with a dislocated jaw, fractured eye socket and two broken cheek bones.
He had to have two metal plates inserted to hold his face together and was housebound for four months while he recovered.
“I pretty much lost four months of my life.
“While everyone else was at work or going out I was stuck in the house.”
A crown court judge gave Paul a six-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, as well as 120 hours’ unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay £2,000 compensation and banned from playing football by Durham FA until the end of this year.