Sunday league game ended in extreme violence when Kieran Kimberley, having already been sent off during the game and violently head butted referee Craig Ward causing Ward to be knocked unconscious.
The game involved Kimberley’s team, Stockingford White Lion, and Grendon FC in the Nuneaton and District Sunday League.
Kimberley attacked Mr Ward moments after the final whistle of the match on October 1. He was knocked unconscious from the headbutt – and needed medical treatment for a gash on his nose.
In a statement read in court, Mr Ward said: “I could see the man come towards me, and his head moved towards my eyebrow.”The next thing, I woke up on the floor bleeding from the bridge of my nose.”It has left me feeling gutted. It was just a game of football. “It wasn’t even a bad-tempered game. I may not referee again in the future.”
Chair of the magistrates, Vanessa Marvell, said: “We have considered this carefully, and we do find that this was so serious that it has to have a custodial sentence, but we are going to suspend that sentence.
“This was serious because you used your head as a weapon to cause injury, and it was an unprovoked attack on someone who was carrying out their duties as a football referee.”
Prosecutor Jez Newsome said: “The victim was the referee of a game on Sunday October 1, in which the defendant was issued two yellow cards, which resulted in a red card.
“At the end of the game Mr Ward was trying to explain it to the team manager, and Mr Kimberley approached them, talking to the referee about the repercussions of the red card.”
Mr Newsome said that when Kimberley was arrested later that day and interviewed, he made a full admission to what he described as “a moment of madness,” but claimed he felt the ref was laughing and winding him up.
He said he had not meant to cause the injury, and he suggested the ref had “moved his arm and I thought he was going to hit me” – which was rejected by the prosecution.
Mr Newsome said: “He says the victim has a reputation as being a wind-up who is known to provoke players. “The Crown in no way accept that” “This is a referee who gives up his time at weekends to enable people to play on a football field.”
Paul O’Keeffe, defending, said: “He described it as a moment of madness, and that he should not have done it. “Mr Kimberley accepts his action was completely unwarranted, and out of proportion to anything that happened at the time.” He didn’t wish to cause injury.
Paul O’Keeffe, defending, said: “He described it as a moment of madness, and that he should not have done it.
Kimberley was handed a four-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay his victim £300 in compensation, £185 court costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
We spoke directly to the RDO from the Birmingham County FA who confirmed that they were aware of the incident, had been in contact with Mr Ward to offer support during the court proceedings. A local county FA investigation will now begin.